Learning Disability

Introducing the Possibilities Clinic Assessment Award

By Edward Donnell Ivy, MD MPHDirector of Community Outreach and EducationPossibilities Clinic It is my pleasure, as Director of Community Outreach and Education at Possibilities, to introduce the new Possibilities Clinic Assessment Award. Each year, three students will receive the clinic’s most comprehensive psychoeducational assessment, called a Signature Assessment, at no cost to their families, to help support learning. Students with learning challenges who are unable to access an assessment privately due to financial need while on a waitlist for a publicly-funded assessment can be nominated jointly by a school principal and social worker. Principals and social workers from public schools across Ontario are eligible to nominate up to two students per school with family permission. I am proud to be part of this initiative—and to be a part of the Possibilities Clinic where science, support and synergy are the guiding principles. These principles have helped me tremendously in my own life, and I hope they can help students eligible for this assessment award, too. I grew up in rural North Carolina. My family was very poor—our lives shaped by poverty more than possibilities—and my parents warned me that the world could be very cruel to those who looked like us. My school picture,...

Dear Possibilities, My child is struggling to read.

Dear Possibilities,My son is going into Grade 4 and struggles to read. I’ve worked hard to get him extra help, and his teachers have been really understanding. Right now he has some accommodations, like extra time to do his work. Sometimes he uses a computer for homework which helps. At the end of Grade 2 he was having a hard time sounding out words. So I got him a tutor and we haven’t stopped. He’s been seeing his tutor every week for over a year now. But my son’s reading hasn’t improved much and he’s getting more and more frustrated. The school wants to add modifications to the accommodations. Is this the next best step? What more I can do to help my son read? Signed,Searching for Solutions Dear Searching, These are great questions—and worth spending some time on! Of course we could start with a general definition of accommodations and modifications, but that sounds rather dull for us and for you. And if we start and end with definitions, we’ll probably fail to address the most important information—like the real implications of accommodations and modifications for your child’s learning in the long-run. So let’s start with a story, then swing back and...

INTRODUCING OUR TELEMEDICINE SIGNATURE ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING DISABILITIES, ADD/ADHD AND MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSES

How did COVID-19 affect services at Possibilities? When the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting Ontario, Possibilities transitioned all in-person appointments to secure video sessions to protect the safety of our clients and our community.  We were able to continue most of our assessments and treatments over secure video appointments, providing uninterrupted help throughout these difficult times. Video sessions have allowed most of our services, such as ADD/ADHD assessments, coaching, medication consultations, clinical therapies and tutoring services to continue to be provided, right from the safety of your home. Learning Disability testing—the portion of our comprehensive Signature Assessment that examines learning and cognitive abilities—has not been offered in the last few months, as the usual protocols for this type of assessment have typically involved in-person testing over many hours and sessions. Over the last few months, we have consulted peer-reviewed research, and clinicians involved in the development of standardized tests, to determine how Learning Disability tests and associated cognitive measures could be adapted for secure video sessions while maintaining accuracy and safety. Some clinics are doing in-person psychoeducational testing. Why isn’t Possibilities doing this yet?  We recognize that some clinics have started providing in-person psychoeducational testing. However, because of the extended time needed for the psychoeducational...

DEAR POSSIBILITIES

Your questions about ADHD and Learning Disabilities answered byBrenda S Miles, PhD C Psych, Clinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist and Dr. Doron Almagor, MD MRCPC, Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist Dear Possibilities,  I’m a 34 year-old father and lawyer living in Los Angeles. Recently I was diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been working with a coach and making progress. I’m really happy to know that it was ADHD (and not me) that has given me trouble all these years! I’m still working through lots of shame and guilt about some major mistakes in my life, but I think it’s time to finally try medications and maximize what I can get from coaching. But I want only the best medication and I don’t want to take any chances. What’s the best medication available right now in 2020?  Signed,Wanting the Best in LA Dear La La Lawyer, Ah, Los Angeles—sun, surf, celebrities and, of course, the biggest botch-up in Oscar history! We remember it well. It’s 2017 and Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are announcing Best Picture of the year. Beatty examines the card, hesitates, and then says, “La La Land!” The cast and crew run to the stage, hug, cry, and celebrate. Warm feelings all around, right? And then...

CALM, CARING, CONNECTED. How We Are Helping You and Your Family During COVID-I9

The world is in the midst of an evolving COVID-19 situation. These are unsettling times.  On March 17, 2020, we made the decision to delay all in-person testing and therapy sessions at the Possibilities Clinic until the public health situation subsides. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right decision to make. Your physical health and safety are of utmost concern to us. Your mental health, and the mental health of your family, are important, too. And so, we are still here for you. As mental health professionals, our guiding principles remain unchanged. We remain calm, caring, and connected in everything we do for you. We are adhering to social distancing measures, but remain connected in our caring. As we move forward, all therapy, medical appointments, coaching and consultation sessions, as well as specific testing assessments, will now be offered to you and your family through secure video connections. As long as you reside anywhere in Ontario, we can offer our medical and mental health expertise through Telemedicine over a secure video connection. All you will need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer with internet access. We've worked with clients from Toronto to Ottawa, from Oakville to London, from Windsor to Kingston,...

ADD and ADHD in College: Are You Ready?

With summer in full swing, you probably prefer to think about hitting the beach rather than hitting the books. Heading back to high school is one thing, but heading to college or university is something else entirely. Are you ready? It’s exciting to think about new friends, new experiences, and new possibilities. There is so much to be positive about. Being optimistic helps you look forward and dream big!  But your new Psych 101 professor will probably tell you this: the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. So, if you’ve always left your assignments until the last minute, that’s probably going to happen when you hit campus, too. If you’ve lost your wallet, cell phone or keys over and over again, that’s probably going to happen at college, too. If you‘ve struggled to follow your high school teachers—because taking notes and listening at the same time seemed impossible—that’s probably going to happen at university, too. And university or college means new and tougher challenges will be thrown your way, as well. Bigger classes, more reading, more deadlines. Okay. Enough said. You get the idea. If challenges at school are part of your past, they’ll probably be part of your future. And...

Busting the Priority Myth: Stop Prioritizing and Start Succeeding

You want what’s best for your child. You always have. So, when worries arise, your inclination might be to prioritize—to target the problem immediately, and exclusively, before it escalates. In prioritizing, other concerns may become secondary in your mind, relegated to “let’s deal with them later.” Intuitively, prioritizing makes a lot of sense. But it might be working against you. Challenging behaviour? You go to a doctor and seek treatment—and for a while, things settle. Failed exam? You talk to the teacher—and for a while, things settle. Adolescent heartbreak? You enlist a therapist—and for a while, things settle. You prioritize again and again and again, at every turn, at every heartbreak, at every challenge. But development is a moving target, and the priorities keep shifting. You’re exhausted, hopeful, frustrated, confused.  Why aren’t your priorities yielding more success? Maybe because you’re doing just that: prioritizing. And maybe it’s time, once and for all, to bust the Priority Myth. Priorities, listed from highest to lowest and given attention as needs arise, are simply not sufficient for best outcomes. So this notion that priorities are your best bet when it comes to helping your child is a myth.    How do you prioritize when it comes to...

FREE LECTURE! Making Memories Stick: Study Skills for School Success in ADHD

A Free Lecture for parents and professionals who work with children and teens with ADHD and Learning Disabilities, or who may struggle in school. Based on their observations that students with ADHD who study hard for tests and exams still struggle to remember the information at test time, Drs. Almagor and Miles will discuss effective memory strategies that are fun and creative, and that will make information more memorable for students with ADHD and Learning Disabilities. In the Q&A session, the experts will answer your questions about memory, ADHD and Learning Disabilities strategies inside and outside the classroom. Speakers: Doron Almagor, MD, FRCPC and Brenda Miles, Ph.D., C.Psych. When: Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 7pm Where: University of Toronto’s George Ignatieff Theatre 15 Devonshire Place, near Bloor & Bedford Avenues Registration is FREE (sponsored by Camp Kennebec), but you must register in advance at https://www.campkennebec.com/adhd-experts-talk/  ...

Possibilities Pick

Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities Author: David Flink Publisher and date: William Morrow/ Harper Collins Publishers 2014 Readers: Parents, teachers, clinicians, secondary and post-secondary students Category: ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Advocacy Link to purchase: http://amzn.to/2ANye0f Let me be honest from the outset. Often books for parents are text-heavy, uninspiring, and do little in the way of clearing a path for action (at least in my opinion). So, when I stumbled upon this resource that promised to be inspiring—with the word “inspiring” right in the title—I thought maybe this book might be different. Keyword: might. Guess what?  David Flink delivers, and I love, love, love this book! Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities is a book that crept up on me. The first few chapters are straightforward and informative. In Chapters 1 and 2, Flink covers the basics of Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and explains the danger of well-intentioned but misguided pleas to “just try harder.” Chapter 3, appropriately called “Take Action,” is a call for advocacy as Flink outlines, very concretely, how to support students with learning needs from all sorts of angles—by becoming familiar with education and accessibility laws, exploring interventions...

FOUR WAYS TO MAKE ANY TOY EDUCATIONAL
Four Ways to Make Any Toy Educational

Seems to me there is a whole lot of pressure on parents to buy toys that are “educational.” With the holidays around the corner, you might be looking for that perfect educational toy to complete your shopping list. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know what the heck an educational toy is. Really, I don’t. But from the looks of it, a toy is “educational” because 1) someone says it is, 2) it’s sold in a fancy store with other “educational” products, and 3) you’re told, more or less, “buy this toy and you’ll stimulate your child’s brain.” Sadly, these toys aren’t cheap, especially those backed by experts selling fun-tastic fertilizer for growing brains destined for the Ivy League. Thankfully, I can forgive my parents for failing to buy me fancy, educational toys. Instead (how dare they?!) they bought me, well, toys. Plain old regular toys. And sometimes they didn’t buy me toys at all (the nerve!). Sometimes I played with pots (gasp!), yarn (yikes!), and, wait for it, sticks (noooooo!). All these items were toys, if I chose to impose my imagination on them, and my parents made sure I did so by granting me free, unstructured time...