TEN SIGNS for NEW ASL LEARNERS (Free download)

Happy Holidays!

As a present from me to YOU please find in this blog a FREE download of my 10 FAVORITE SIGNS intended for beginner or  novice sign language learners.  The ASL photography are for sharing and printing.

**  FREE DOWNLOAD  – Click the link below **

SIGNING FAMILIES – 10 Favorite Signs

The same signs found in the downloadable document also are included in these open captioned sign language videos from my YouTube Channel (Please go check out my channel and many other sign language videos!).


These career women bring inspiration to the South Bay of LA


For nearly three years I have left my home on Thursday mornings at 6a.m to attend a women’s networking group that meets just as the sun is rising.   The Beach Cities Breakfast Club aka BCBC is a diverse group of hard working entrepreneur who hail from the south bay area of Los Angeles.

I have participated in many networking groups where the goal is for “leads” to be given and received by members. Lead generation is considered the “golden egg” for building a business. Many lead groups don’t foster a sense of collaboration or cooperation but offer an environment of being “cut- throat”. Not BCBC as we are a supportive group of women who cheer and champion each other’s successes!

First some background about BCBC

Maria West and Anita Garcia started BCBC nearly 12 years ago. Their warmth and compassion are the backbone of the group. Maria has been a mortgage broker for many years with a dedicated clientele who rave about her meticulous and kit glove service with  Platinum Mortgage.

Anita may be the most senior sales rep for Tupperware! Over 40 years she has sold this housewares staple.  I for one have quadrupled my Tupperware since getting to know Anita.  By the way the children’s toys are timeless! (Who doesn’t love the Shape-O ball or Noah’s Ark!)

It is my pleasure to spotlight many of the women who offer health, wellness, business and financial services to the southern Los Angeles area.

Selling homes with integrity is what makes Michelle Velasco of Keller Williams a success.  Recently, Michelle cleverly used a drone to market a home in the gorgeous waterfront area of San Pedro.  Check out the video she created (and bravo got an offer on the home in record time!)

Anita and Michelle were both guests on my radio program a few years ago. Listen to our interview here.




Travel, Travel, Travel! A premiere travel agent can be found in Malaga Cove at the Travel Store thanks to Linda Kahn- Ferrell.  Her enthusiasm for traveling to the Pacific islands, such as Fiji or far away places such as Thailand is infectious. One thing I learned from Linda is that having a travel agent during these challenging times can be an insurance policy! An here is my confession- I really would love to have her job!

These women strive everyday to make you feel  healthy!


Did you know that essential oils can be a benefit to your health and wellness. DL Sweet has convinced this skeptic that lavender and peppermint can have a positive  impact on improving health in ways never imagined. Who needs an allergy pill when you can have some peppermint oil do the trick to unclog a snuffy nose!

Talking about health – acupuncture is one of my new favorite ways to keep back pain in check! Again, I was not the person to run to an acupuncturist for a fear of being ‘needled” but-  Jean Morris has me totally convinced that acupuncture can give amazing relief to those in chronic or acute pain and also help with regular wellness regimens.

Face massage

Aches and pains also are no match for Florence Datin, massage therapist. Florence is the newest addition to BCBC and originally from France. She is quickly making her mark on the group as someone with much expertise and compassion.

Sabrina Quinene is passionate about women being vigilant with breast heae25bd6_47bd4911edd8491680a650f1ce43c62blth. She offers through her chiropractic practice breast thermography.   Learn more about this very important and potentially life saving technology. It is painless and so worthwhile! (The image affixed shows what a unhealthy breast would look like on a thermography result – red areas signal need for more investigation!)

 Debbie D’Aquino wants to help you be healthy and a better you – inside and out!  Her website is charming and this dynamo wears a lot of “hats”.  From teaching meditation, swing dance or being a distributor of Kangen water – I am beginning to think she doesn’t sleep!  Debbie is quite the professional dancer and this video proves it!  ( I told you the women of BCBC are an eclectic group!)



Money, Money, Money!

I am not going to even pretend that I understand the complexities of the stock market or the insurance world. That is why I depend on the wisdom of Kelly Markowitz and Lynn Cardarelli.  They are two of the most money wise women I know! Kelly is a ball of energy and Lynn is an insurance agent by day and master knitter by night! (Not to mention that she is a cat aficionado!

About Medicare

And protect your money and family with a good Estate attorney! Heather Miller Law   heIMG_3767.jpglps people plan for the inevitable by creating sound wills, estate and trust plans and more.  Heather is uber wise when it comes to the legal system and has an interest in helping with adoptions (coming soon – we hope!)

Helping our furry friends…

e0a52b_518e554b37b64cba8123fb369f43ee59.jpg Country Hills Animal Clinic (CHAC) in Torrance, California.  I am such a fan of Dr. Jennifer that I bring both of my shepherd mixes to this clinic.  CHAC recently started a great set of techniques to give animals a calmer experience while be examined. FEAR FREE is great! Don’t just trust my recommendations, see their YELP ratings

Also, helping animals and their owner is Anne Jones, aka Anne the Pet Nanny! Busy career keeping you at the office late at night? No worries Anne will take care of your pet! Coming soon will be an expansion of her business. Connect with Anne and her pet care services here.

When life gets rough…

It is a privilege to know Janet Dion, Linda Benecke and Tiffany Kane. These remarkable ladies help put back together lives of people who have experienced difficult challenges in life.

Janet is a therapist who specializes in helping people find their true direction.  She recognizes that the first step in helping is to listen. She is an excellent communicator and as a Psychologist,  I am duly impressed with her abilities to help others feel safe and comfortable.  Connect with Janet here.

51bsHaqvjoL._UY250_Tiffany Kane knows that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. She had to learn this lesson the hard way when she became a young widow and a single parent with the unexpected death of her husband.  Tiffany took her emotional turmoil and persevered. She began Widows with Kids  to help others. She also became a best selling author.   Find Tiffany’s trilogy series here.

Linda Benecke knows first-hand how to be a survivor, too! As a past victim of abuse, she wants to educate and empower others via her business Damsel Pro Gal, a subsidiary of the Damsel in Defense franchise.  I truly admire this woman who gives 200% in order to make sure that women (and men) are safe from predators and abusers. Listen to her story during an  interview with Margaret McSweeney of Kitchen Chat TV.

Linda, knowing I was writing a blog about BCBC,  wanted me to share this information in order to help others.

Via Damsel Pro Gal – Bruises of the heart take a lot longer to heal. If your internal flags tell you that you are being abused, you are; regardless of who it is. Abusers love to demean, criticize, direct and control you and find every reason to judge and orchestrate your every move to invalidate you. Rarely will they tell you something positive. If you try to express your feelings, they will see this as a personal affront to them, and attack or reject you for their own inability to see themselves. They interrupt you when you speak because their words are more important; they don’t care to take time to listen to you, nor do they have patience with you; especially if you’re an elder parent or a special needs person. This is not love if someone treats you this way; it’s their guise of ‘loving you’. It is their problem, acted out on you, being abusive and rationalizing their behavior toward you, and blaming you. Sad irony is that their love typically comes as a present, in a box, as a gift, but not one of the heart; patience, compassion, and simply accepting you and loving you for who you are. Sociopathic and narcissistic behavior is prevalent in our society.  I hope their mirrors don’t break as they gaze upon their own imperfect perfection telling themselves how wonderful they are.


Our BCBC group is growing in numbers and presence on social media.  Find us on TWITTER, FACEBOOK and NING!

 It is very hard not find inspiration on Thursday mornings with this group of amazing women! If you are a women entrepreneur in the LA area and interested in learning how to join BCBC please go to MEET UP for information.

Coming soon – part 2 will be a way for you to  meet more service providers and women with creative and talented businesses! 














These Clever Gadgets are Worth a Look!

Today I spent the morning at the LA GADGET EXPO in downtown Los Angeles.  I was expecting an exposition chocked full of entrepreneurs showing their newest creations and devices.  The reality was more an intimate gathering of students with cool ideas and small businesses showing their unique gadgets.

While smaller than expected, the LA GADGET EXPO  did offer a few a very impressive companies that I feel are worth mentioning this holiday season.




Let’s start with my FAVORITE of all the gadgets at this show.  FINALLY, someone has solved the problem of the power strip that is cumbersome.  Meet ALLOCACOC an award winning idea that is a  multi- prong power cube!  Offers USB, international and US standard plugs. I LOVED IT! Simple and sleek.  The cubes can be singular or connect to stack! Offers much versatility and the problem of “is there an available outlet here?” is solved!

I can envision these at airports, restaurants and hotels! Not to mention when social media correspondents gather for events!

Price point is VERY reasonable at $12.95 for the basic cube.

 Muku Labs Camera Shutter  @MukuLabs  

IMG_0081Muku Labs made a very nice camera shutter that is used with iOS and Android devices.  A standard bluetooth mechanism, it is perfect for taking group or selfie photos without having to hold on to a phone.  Must say that the streamlined look, feel and ease of use is much preferred over others I have tried.

Retail: $39.99  Link to purchase


DOTT- Smart Dog Tag is an VERY intriguing device that is well worth a look. Imagine letting FIDO off leash at a dog park.  This multi-function dog tag both helps signal through a small dog tag worn on your dog’s collar to signal to return as well as house technology to locate a dog that has wandered off. In addition the tag is paired with an app that offers services such as community alerts to find a missing animal.


From their website is this excellent description:

DOTT provides with you digital tracking of latest technology. DOTT tag sets up a virtual leash, connects your pet to your mobile phone. If it wanders off, DOTT will let you know immediately. And, our social GPS network actively tells you the last seen location and help locate it continuously.


I couldn’t help but think that this technology would also be good to interface with other community based apps such as BOP or ROVER.com.

Dog rescues and veterinary services should give DOTT some consideration.  Price point is a very easy $30 online



Two companies offered  eco friendly ideas. The first is My Open Road – an app for both IOS and Adroid that allows users to document how they are saving making a carbon imprint on the world by  taking alternate forms of transportation – such as walking, riding a bike or carpooling. I love to see companies that are eco friendly and even their t-shirts were made with eco-sustainable products.  They also had a coveted spot at the expo and were a joy to speak with!

Their motto:  Tiny Changes- Big Rewards is very clever.


URB-E is a very clever eco-friendly bike – motor scooter.  I can imagine this being a huge hit on college campuses, for urban dwellers and even those who want to explore large cities but not on foot.  Price is the most of all the gadgets seen today starting at $1699.

URB- E gets my personal kudos for having the best online marketing.

They have a decent social media presence for a start-up and the most CLEVER holiday campaign going.  Check out their video for the 21 days of URB- E Christmas (and if you enter their contest you may win one of their bikes!)


I should also mention a few other gadgets that caught my attention. Sound Brake was an interesting device to help alert headphone users of environmental noises, such as a doorbell ringing.  Here is my periscope interview with the founder.  And, MOTI app is a healthy – lifestyle application for iOS and Android to help people register their level of exercise, healthy habits (such as water consumption), etc.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed speaking to these creative minds who invented fun and functional products.  However a word of wisdom to those who are vendors/ displayers at booths that are seeking investors, distributors or publicity – have a PR KIT FOR YOUR PRODUCT!  Only a handful of the gadgets had any information about their product. Some had postcards with their websites. Others had only business cards.  A PR kit for press, etc. with information, easy to find social media “411” and if possible a sample would be FABULOUS!

Do you have a gadget that you can recommend or created? Feel free to add your information in the comment section below!

COMING NEXT:  How can synergy be so good when two dozen women join a women’s professional networking group that has HEART?  Meet Beach Cities Breakfast Club in my next post.


disclaimer:  No renumeration was received for any of these products.





Too Close To Home… #SanBernardino

Little child crying with tear on face

Too close to home. San Bernardino is too close to home.  

As a psychologist and the owner of an educational company that focuses on matters of communication and safety, I have trained First Responders on how to engage and communicate with those who have unique circumstances – such as Autism or Deafness. I have trained thousands of emergency responders how to help evacuate people who don’t communicate verbally, use sign language or don’t speak English as their first language. Most of the practice scenarios were in case of an earthquake. tornado or vehicular accident.

But yesterday it wasn’t a practice scenario. It wasn’t a workshop video.

Yesterday it was REAL LIFE.

 Real people. Real suffering. Real blood. Real tears. 

Yet unreal.  Surreal.

 While my eyes were affixed on CNN and the reporters – I couldn’t help but notice the people in the background. The First Responders I trained were there. On TV.  Helping so many of the helpless who had been shot by two or more assailants. There they – my students –  evacuating those with functional needs and their caretakers. WOW!

Everything seemed to be going according to protocol.  I was so impressed!

But then I realized that there was a question gnawing at me.

WHY did the First Responders have to practice what they learned at all?

Oh wait… let me answer my own question…

First – We don’t address mental health needs in this country. We often have programs in place that are less than effective. We don’t staff mental health centers with enough service providers. We often don’t use multi-modal treatment plans. We don’t have enough resources to help those who need help. Ask anyone who works in public mental health if they have enough of what they need to help their clients and I bet they say. “no”.

Secondly – We have easy access to guns and copious amounts of ammunition. Please don’t quote me the right to bear arms stuff. I know all of that. Any 8th grader who has taken an exam on the US history knows that. What I am asking is WHY do we need to have as many guns in homes as we have cars? Why don’t we have stricter laws about guns? Why can’t we find a solution vs. spinning our proverbial wheels about guns?


Lastly – We don’t teach people in life that disappointment is part of LIFE and not a reason TO TAKE A LIFE.
So a HUGE thank you to ALL First Responders who risk their lives everyday. And to their families who know that when the alarm sounds their loved one is going towards the disaster vs. away.

Now folks- let’s stop talking and start doing! Demand constructive changes that SAVE LIVES.  Let San Bernardino not be another example of the “new normal”.

Enough is enough!


Paying tribute to the Red Cross during the Asian World Film Festival


A teen with a rare blood type receives a transfusion. A shelter is opened for families who lost everything in a tornado. A parent learns CPR before the birth of their baby.  An earthquake hits Nepal a few years after another has devastated Japan. What do all of these scenarios have in common? The Red Cross .

I have seen firsthand the work of the Red Cross.  It was during Hurricane Agnes while I was living in a small town in Western New York. One day we had a beautiful village with several schools and a hospital. The day Agnes stalled over our village we were left with only half of the schools and lost much of the hospital as it collapsed in to the Genessee River. Who came to help those who watched their life savings float away? The local chapter of the Red Cross. As a young “tween” I was in awe as the dedicated volunteers assisted those who were displaced and in need of items that usually we take for granted – such as drinking water.

Photo credit: regionalnewsnetwork.blogspot.com
Jones Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes.Photo credit: regionalnewsnetwork.blogspot.com

Related story: Red Cross- How they respond to disasters

Fast forward to just a couple of years ago when raging tornados tore apart areas surrounding Oklahoma City. Ironically, I was scheduled to speak in that area on disaster preparedness, but instead found myself in the center of a response and relief effort. Again, the Red Cross played a huge role in the helping families almost instanteounsly after the tornado dust had cleared. What many don’t know is that people who come in to shelters are out of their element and find it extremely challenging.  Much more is the case when the family is not English speaking, Deaf or has a family member with disabilities or challenges, such as Autism. Bravo to the Red Cross and other groups who provide assistance for recognizing the need for training their staff, including volunteers, to help people with access and functional needs.

Read about the Red Cross response in Oklahoma

Now let’s play a round of RED CROSS TRIVIA?

(Yes, I just made that up) 

♦ Did you know that the Red Cross has pre-made disaster preparedness kits that are available online or via retail stores such as Target? The reason is to make it easy for families to be prepared with the correct items needed for most disasters.

♦ Did you know that the Red Cross has created an app known as Safe and Well to let you alert and notify your families after a disaster, such as an earthquake or tornado, that you are OK and where you are located?

♦ Did you know that the Red Cross is made up of over 90% volunteers?

♦ Did you know that  the Red Cross responded to over 140 large disasters and thousands of smaller ones in the United States during 2013 alone?

♦ Did you know that your donation(s) is what helps sustain the Red Cross?

Related story: The international services the Red Cross provide

Time to Give Back!

Now it is time to give back and acknowledge the amazing work of the Red Cross during a very special cross-cultural event being held in Culver City the week of October 26, 2015 – The Asian World Film Festival. This melding of film and philanthropy is the culminatation of months of preparation. On November 1st a special event will be the  Global Change Gala being held  in Culver City. There internationally renowned actor and musician Miyavi, who hails  from Japan – will be one of the three honorees and performers of the evening dedicated to spotlighting the global works of the Red Cross.

Miyavi will be performing at the Asian World Film Festival Global Change Gala on November 1st

Learn how to get tickets and about the festival with this link.

In addition there has been a very special online auction with many one- of – a kind experiences being offered. Dine at favorite restaurants such as Spago or Nabu. Click FIJI off your bucket list of “must sees”. Or perhaps journey to Napa Valley and be treated to the best accomodatons and fine wines the region has to offer. There is something for most on this auction site set up by Charity Buzz. Bids are now open and rules are on the auction page.



To participate in the auction (and grab yourself or family member a fabulous gift) – click here

Let’s get social with the Red Cross and the Asian World Film Festival

Follow the Red Cross and Asian World Film Festival endeavors with these social media links:






and of course you can follow me as @LouiseASL

What lessons have we learned from Hurricane Katrina?

Hurricane earthquake disaster damage ruined house

It is hard to believe that ten years ago many of us were glued to our television  sets watching a hurricane develop  in the Atlantic Ocean and then slowly but surely find its’ way to the Gulf Coast.  It was named –  Hurricane Katrina.  While no doubt a horrific hurricane that caused millions if not billions in damages, it truly was the flooding from when the levees broke that made this hurricane written in to the history books.  Who can forget the television footage of reporters on boats making their way through what were the beautiful streets of New Orleans? How can people erase the images of people crying out for help?  So many sad memories of those who evacuated, lost everything or suffered trauma that to this day may be unspeakable. It was “Katrina” that cast a dark shadow on the United States’ ability to help their own people during a crisis.  For many, Katrina will forever be remembered as a “one-two- three punch” of a storm.  First the hurricane, then the flooding and then the failure for help to arrive when needed the most.

Related: Video playlist of Hurricane Katrina footage and history

There is no question that we did not prepare nor evacuate and assist those in need to the best of our collective abilities.  Families were shipped off to different locales including sending relatives to opposite sides of the country. I recall meeting families who had been uprooted and sent to the Washington DC- Baltimore area. They simply were in shock. They had nothing.  Our local neighbors and religious organizations offered them food, clothing, toys for the kids and just about anything else we could think of!  I often wondered what has happened to them ten years later.  Did they go home to New Orleans?

Then there were those who refused to leave their homes. Many because they wanted to “ride out the storm”. Yet a good number wouldn’t leave as they couldn’t handle leaving behind a family pet.  Others were unsure of how their elderly relatives or ones with special needs would be able to endure shelters- so they stayed.

And now looking back we now know that for some of these families these were fatal mistakes.

There must be some lessons we have learned since August of 2005? But, what are they?  How did we alter the way we prepare and respond to disasters since Katrina? 

I believe that emergency responders never again want to have what happened during and after Katrina be repeated.  Never again do we want people to feel helpless and hopeless.  As aforementioned, many people failed to evacuate because they couldn’t bring their pets to shelters or  provide for their safety.  Others failed to evacuate because they felt they were “safe” only to be in dire straits when the levees broke.  Lives could have been saved if pets, the elderly and better communication were all in place. Although we cannot undo the tragedies of 2005, we have learned from them.

Thankfully now many laws and initiatives have been instituted that are a direct result of Katrina.  One is regarding the care of animals during emergencies. In some areas, no longer do people need to make a choice. (Read how Congress changed animal care during disasters by clicking here).  People are now encouraged to plan ahead and have “back up plans” for their animals in the event of an emergency.

Communication also has improved as now videos in multiple languages, including American Sign Language (ASL),  have been made available for all to access important information about preparations needed for families to be safe in case of an emergency situation, how to ready for impending disasters, and what to expect from response and recovery.  Local community response teams (CERT) have grown and are now a wonderful grassroots effort to help our citizens be safe, including our most vulnerable members – seniors and those with disabilities.  I can’t rave enough about these amazing people who give beyond measure by engaging the most during a time when many would prefer to go away from a disaster.

Read the changes made with emergency management following “Katrina” – a FEMA Document.

It is amazing how many people are now more responsive to hurricane warnings. After all, Katrina was suppose to be a Category 1 storm that quickly gained momentum and strength.  One of the lessons that many have learned is to have a disaster preparedness kit.  Flashlights, batteries and crank radios are now common place in people’s homes and cars.  The Red Cross has put together a very useful website chocked full of disaster preparedness recommendations.

Remember to plan with your loved ones to prepare before a disaster happens! That is the lesson we ALL can take away from Katrina and apply in preparation for any other  disasters – natural and at the hands of man. As there is bound to be “something” in our future and at least we can be ready.

I am sure that many of you have many more suggestions.  As always, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading and may this hurricane season be kind and gentle and not as catastrophic as Katrina.


A Letter to Teachers of Students with ADD/ ADHD.

Multiethnic Arms Raised Holding ADHD

Recently, I penned a blog about tips for parents of children with learning disabilities and how to help with homework.  Now as a part two, I am writing an additional article to address the needs of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD if hyperactivity is part of the diagnosis.

This is a topic I know I know a lot about!  Not only am I a full fledged member of the adult ADHD “team”.  Some people may consider this a “disability”… I consider it a gift… Most days.

Related: What is Attention Deficit Disorder in Children and Adults?

As I child I  always knew that I had more energy and impulse “issues” than most.  Although not a horrible child I could stir more than my share of trouble in a very short amount of time.

In retrospect,  I wish I could have given a “How to teach a child with ADHD letter” to all of my teachers.  If I could turn back time, the letter below is what I would have sent to each of my teachers prior to my arrival in their classroom.   If his letter resonates with one of your family members or someone you know – feel free to personalize it and send it to a teacher.   And, for those of you with ADD/ ADHD who may have some other suggestions  – please feel free to include them in the comment section below.

Dear Teachers,

Despite my cute red and curly hair and wide smile I may be one of the toughest challenges you will face all year.  You see, I am a ball of energy and exude enthusiasm, but don’t be fooled, as I have Attention Deficit Disorder.  (Note: back in the “day” when I was in elementary school they didn’t really have an official diagnosis.)

Here are some suggestions that may help me to learn and make this school year more enjoyable for both of us! (And, the rest of the students, too!)

1-  I can sustain attention to task as along as you are not boring me.  I become bored very easily.  You don’t need to repeat the same information to me again and again.  Just give me a chance to write it down and hear it once, maybe twice.  

2- Give me breaks to walk around.  I will squirm and create quite a stir in my seat if I don’t get a break every 30 minutes or so.  The exception will be when there is high stimulus changing material – such as a movie or computer time.

3- Give me a nutritious snack mid- morning.  If I am hungry then I am not learning.  i also am not paying attention.  And, this would be true of all the students.  Even crackers with cheese will help sustain my attending.

4. If I am doodling or coloring a picture during lecture time know that this is a good thing.  Doodling and coloring help me to listen and pay attention.  

5. Give me other things to occupy my time.  Modeling clay is good to occupy my hands.  If not, I may end up making balls out of bits of paper. 

6. I need organization.  Color pens and markers for me to color code my work. File folders to separate the subject matter.  All of these techniques are better than no organization at all. If you doubt that I don’t need help with organization check my backpack and desk.  I am liable to lost assignments, notes from home and my lunch money.

7.  I like to show my creative side.  So, let me do work that is multi-modal.   Let me use art and music to learn other subjects such as creating jingles to memorize math facts or social studies information. 

8.  Make me accountable for my actions.  Just because I have ADHD doesn’t mean that I don’t have to take responsibility for my behaviors.  I need to follow rules.  I need to be kind and not bully.  I need to complete my assignments. I don’t get a “pass” because I have ADHD.  Remember I am not disabled – just a different kind of learner.

9.  I can get a lot done in a short amount of time.  That is because if given tools to succeed I can do so efficiently and without much problem.  

10.  Homework is just another opportunity to be bored.  If I feel bored I am more liable to get in trouble.  So, give me meaningful tasks to complete and not work that is redundant.  Homework is redundant.  Let me do reading or creative projects, not busy work.

11. Make sure that my parents know what I am doing and not doing during the school day.  Make my parents and the parents of my peers part  of the process of our learning. (For the record both my parents were truly engaged in my education – so this is more of  a reminder for others.)  Invite mentors and retirees in to the classroom to help.  

Related: The value of grandparents in the classroom by Grandparents.com

12. I like to chat.  I am social.  If you want me to reduce my talking make sure that you follow suggestion #2 – trust me that my taking a break will make both of our lives easier.  If you want, give the whole class a break to stretch -then I won’t feel singled out.  I promise that one short break and we will all be less chatty and social.

13. Give me a job to do when I take a break.  Make me a classroom helper.  

Read related blog of a teacher who “got me” – Thank you, Miss Huntley!

14. Remember that ADD/ ADHD is often associated with learning disabilities.  

Read more about learning disabilities here.

Thank you for reading my letter and I am hoping this will be the start of a very exciting, educational and positive school year!


Tips for helping your child with learning disabilities complete homework


Welcome to the 2015-16 academic school year!

The number of children and youth ages 3–21 receiving special education services was 6.4 million, or about 13 percent of all public school students, in 2012–13. Some 35 percent of students receiving special education services had specific learning disabilities. (nces.ed.gov)

What exactly is one to glean from these statistics?  For teachers in public school it means that at least 2-3 children in the typical classroom will have more than the ordinary challenges with completing work without assistance or special programing.  And, while the public schools may have experts to assist children with learning disabilities the true challenge comes when the child arrives home and is faced with a backpack full of homework. Where are the experts to help with the homework? What are parents or caregivers to do?

Related: What are the most common types of learning disabilities?

First, I want to go on record that as a parent and School Psychologist I am not a fan of homework.  Who wants to complete hours of work after just finishing hours of work? I have a few exceptions as I do believe in long term projects that integrate multiple skills or daily recreational reading for an hour each day.  But, I understand that I am in the minority and every day millions of children come home with tons of homework.  So, with that said what is the parent of child with learning disabilities to do to make this often overwhelming situation better and maybe even painless.  Here are some tips that hopefully be helpful and abate any “homework wars”.  And, feel free to share with all parents as they are not exclusive to those with special challenges.

Tip 1:  Feed your child a nutritious snack before you begin any structured homework time.  Don’t throw a lot of sugar in to them, but give them something with substance, such as a slice of pizza, peanut butter on crackers or apples. If they are in the mood for sweets be sure to make it a healthier option.  If it comes in a sealed bag it is doubtful that it is very healthy.  (See this link for ideas of healthy snacks from Pinterest.)

Tip 2: Allow your child at least 30 minutes of exercise before settling down for homework. Play with your child and use this time to ask about their day and share about yours!

Tip 3: Have a homework box ready. Include in the homework box the following items:

Highlight pens – use highlighters of different colors. Spotlight words that are unfamiliar and underline content that is confusing.  Use different colors to help with denoting math operations by highlighting the math symbol.

Sticky Notes for a student to write questions on or use as scratch paper.

Electronic reader – such as a Kindle, iPad or Nook.  The highlighting of words and sentences for grammar and vocabulary checks are very helpful for children who have reading challenges.  Reading can be made fun with the “zillion” of options for books and magazine that are available.

Folders that are different colors and/or designs. These can be purchased for cheap.  Each subject should be placed in different colored folders. Organization is key when a child has learning difficulties.  Or just about anyone!

Voice recorder – or phone with recording feature.  A child who reads a loud or explains why they are completing problem the way they are can help for instruction or correction.

Dark piece of poster board to cover material not being worked on and too distracting for some students.

Magnifying lens bar to amplify a section of print.Click here for a sample product

Organizers to help with task identification and completion.  There are many organizers available. Please see our Signing Families resource page for suggestions.

Tip 4: Switch roles – have your student teach you.

It often is helpful to learn a concept by switching your approach from learner to teacher.  Have your child make up lessons to teach you the concepts that they are learning. Complete the homework they developed and let them grade it. This will help them understand new concepts from a different perspective. Once they have more confidence with tasks they may be more willing to tackle homework assignments.

Tip 5- Use multimodal techniques to learn.

Spelling an issue? Use the sign language alphabet to remember how to spell words.

Sign language also can help with math fact learning, too!

Click here  to learn sign language easy and fun!

Create a song to remember information that is lengthy such as for social studies or science.

Draw pictures to remember tougher concepts. Silly drawings use kinesthetic and visual memory skills.

Suggested resources



Assistive technology

Community question: What strategies would you recommend to help students with learning challenges with homework?