Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide by Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide   by Dr. Jeanne Beckman
Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties! ISBN 978-1-60264-089-4

How to purchase my book

To purchase through Virtual Bookworm (my publisher) you can click Virtual Bookworm Publisher: Tech Psychologist's Guide or
Amazon no longer allows Illinois professionals to get credit for referrals to Amazon due to a sales tax dispute. I will be referring to Powell's in the near future.

What is that TinyURL notation that you see in my blog? For those who use a screen reader, the link that is hidden behind words like Tech Psychologist Guide remains hidden. However, screen readers can read aloud the website address, or URL, if it was produced by Also, sometimes these addresses are so long that they wrap around several lines or overlap into colored areas of a website that obscure the actual address. Intrigued? You can create your own tinyurl's at

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking ownership of disabilities in learning?

Frequently, I have heard school personnel state that students should “take ownership” of their reading or writing disability and “do it the regular way.” However, the law states that students should receive accommodations to allow them equal access to their regular curriculum. Thus, books on computers that read the words aloud, dictation software so that students can write by dictation, and human note-takers in class are all examples of accommodations.

Remediation is specialized tutoring to improve the skills of the person with disabilities. Multi-sensory reading tutoring, manuscript or cursive instruction, and instructions on how to organize your written work are examples of remediation.

Accommodation, without remediation, will destine these students to a truly handicapped life. However, if a student cannot walk to class, we don't say they cannot attend a regular class until they can walk independently, nor do we tell them they should take ownership of their disability and walk like their peers because they'll need to later in life. We provide a wheelchair as an accommodation to get to class, and provide adequate and appropriate remediation of physical and occupational therapy so that they can become increasingly independent. They may never be efficient enough to walk everywhere, but to be able to walk a few steps toward a library shelf would be a reasonable goal. The same holds true for those with invisible disabilities. Because it would impede their ability to access, learn, and demonstrate acquired knowledge of the regular curriculum, we cannot require them to use an inefficient method to access the full curriculum because of a value system that says they "should," rather we need to provide them fully accommodated access to the full, regular curriculum while providing enough research-validated remediation that they will make reasonable progress at acquiring the skills for independent reading/spelling etc. "the regular way." A benefit of using Dragon is that they will be able to use this tool throughout their lives, as non-disabled individuals use Dragon in the business world, while using a method such as Co-Writer is so slow and tedious that many students find it frustrating because it hampers the speed and quality of productive output of many of the students with learning and other hidden disabilities.

For more on this topic, see my book, Tech Psychologist Guide, at

Do you need help in getting reasonable accommodations and remediation?
Dr. Jeanne Beckman is available to assist you in determining what you need to learn and thrive. Please call her at 847-446-1251
or email her at

Monday, February 8, 2010

Vision problems and dyslexia?

In an article about the role of vision and learning disabilities, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Council on Children with Disabilities issued a joint statement:

Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision

By: Reading Rockets (2010)

Thanks to advances in imaging techniques and scientific inquiry, we now know much more about learning disabilities (LD), dyslexia, and the role of vision problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Council on Children with Disabilities, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology published a joint statement that summarizes what is currently known about visual problems and dyslexia. The statement also covers what treatments are and are not recommended when diagnosing and treating vision problems, learning disabilities, and dyslexia.

The eyes play an important role in sending visual signals to the brain, and a lot of information presented at school is presented visually. For these reasons, it's important to make sure your child is able to see well and correctly. Schools often do vision screenings at the beginning of the year, and your pediatrician's office can refer you to an ophthalmologist with experience in caring for children. However, vision problems are not the cause of dyslexia or learning disabilities. The federal definition of learning disabilities is careful to state that the learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily due to visual difficulties.

Because vision problems do not cause dyslexia or learning disabilities, treating LD or dyslexia through approaches such as eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses won't help a child struggling to learn to read. Therapies and treatments like those described are not supported by scientific evidence, and are not recommended or endorsed. [emphasis added]

If your child is struggling with reading or other learning issues, it is important to have him or her evaluated by a licensed clinical psychologist who also has an expertise in the technologies that can provide equal access to the regular school or college curriculum. To learn more about this topic, please contact Dr. Jeanne Beckman at 847-446-1251 or visit her at

Friday, February 5, 2010

The power of Mother as Advocate

In the Wall Street Journal today, I read Dorothy Rabinowitz's review of the upcoming program, "Temple Grandin," which is about a woman with autism who has been able to develop her tremendous talents to make our society a better place.

The story of Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism at age 4 and in time a symbol of hope for the afflicted, has made its way to the screen with spellbinding results. The way wasn't destined to be smooth. Symbols of hope and inspiration don't easily translate to drama, at least any worthy of the name, particularly when they come burdened, as this one does, with emphasis on achievements touching on matters that make the blood run cold. Ms. Grandin became an expert inventor of constructions designed to soothe cattle headed for the slaughterhouse...

...the Grandin character is far more complex, an accomplished woman who is an author, who has a Ph.D. in animal science and a full professorship at Colorado State University. In Ms. Danes's portrayal of her youth, that complexity comes blazing to life at every turn—the ever-present state of alert against the world's countless threats (a human touch, a sliding door), the fierce if selective curiosity, the search for modes of comfort and protection...

"Temple Grandin" (Saturday, 8-10 p.m. EST, on HBO) ...


So many times, mothers are castigated as being either an over-controlling "helicopter parent" or indifferent "refrigerator mother" to a child's needs. Rabinowitz's review states
Not that Temple lacked a dynamo of a mother of her own, one who refused to give up on her child or allow her to be institutionalized as doctors suggested. Eustacia is an exquisite mix of delicacy and force in Ms. Ormond's superb portrayal.

Thomas Edison's mother, Nancy Elliott Edison, also refused to accept the school's diagnosis of her son as "addled" and she home schooled him. Due to her efforts to teach him to read as well as to constantly read to him, Thomas Edison grew up to become the record holder of the greatest number of patents issued in one person's name. This record still stands today.

LEGACY OF BULLYING: When children and their mothers are bullied, are shamed, about their learning differences, depression, discouragement, failure, and reduced productivity often results. This legacy gets passed on, so that the child who suffered this shaming grows up to shame his or her own children, to shame his or her students. This is how bullying is passed on through the generations, to the detriment of our communities and country.

So mothers, do not accept that you should back off and leave the education of your children to others who claim to know better. Do not accept the pejorative comments about being a helicopter parent or worse. It is in our genetic wiring to "provide pertinent parenting with a push" for greater independence for all of our children.

Do you need assistance for your efforts at "P-Cubed" (Provide Pertinent Parenting with a Push)? Please contact Dr. Jeanne Beckman at
or visit

Our children, our communities, our country depends on mothers