Looking for LINKS Volunteers

Our LINKS literacy program is looking for volunteers interested in helping children become competent, independent learners through the experience of good books and opportunities for good writing.  For more information please contact our Links Coordinator, Shaunna Wall, at (204) 774-1821 Ext. 5 or by email at ldamanitoba6@mymts.net

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Holiday Tips for Parents of ADHD Kids

The holiday season is potentially a wonderful time of the year for fun and special times.  School is out, routines are relaxed, there is more leisure time, more treats to eat and there is more time to spend with friends and family.  But it also comes with potential pitfalls such as increased worry, frustrations, sad memories, disappointments and fear.  This is true for most families but it is particularly true for parents with LD children such as ADHD.  The following are some ideas that might reduce stress during the holiday season.  Please join the conversation and if you have a tip please tell us and we will post them on our web site.

1.    Maintain Structure and Rules:  It is understandable to relax the house rules during the holiday season.  After all when school is out every day is a “Saturday”.  It is okay to bend the rules but make sure that your child clearly knows what is expected, except able and what is not.  Children operate best when they understand the rules and expectations at home as well outside the home.

2.    Review Behavioral Conduct:    Before you go out with your child, whether it is to the mall, going to a movie or going  out to a friend’s place or visiting family always review  what the plan is including   your expectations and the rules of conduct.   Be specific rather than providing general comments.  Do not assume your child know what is expected of him/her.

3.    Anticipating Triggers:  Know the situations that can be hard for your child so intervene early to avoid a meltdown.  As one parent suggested, have an “escape plan” that you can activate when things are not going well.  This is especially relevant during the holiday season when high demands are placed on you and your child.

4.    “Visiting Both Parents”:  The holiday season poses unique issues for children whose parents do not live together.  It is critically important that children (where appropriate) are given ample opportunities to see both parents.  Therefore, agree on a “visitation plan” and convey this plan to your child.  Yes, it is difficult, awkward and even emotionally painful, but focus on your child and make it a pleasant experience for him/her.

5.    Medication Changes:  If you are contemplating changing your child’s medication by either increasing or decreasing the dosage please do so only after consulting with your family physician and or mental health professionals.  Be certain that you are aware of the benefits and disadvantages of your decision.  It goes without saying that both parents have to be in agreement with this decision.  For older children asking for their opinion is extremely important and they need to be part of the decision making process.    However,   remember that ADHD doesn’t take a holiday and given the many challenges children with ADHD face during the holiday season, this may not be the best time to take a break from medication.

6.    Develop a Resource List:  Make a list of programs and make inquiries of programs and other community resources that might be suitable for your child during school break.  While you are at it, make a list of trusted and understanding friends and family members that can assist you with chores and child care.  It may come in handy and besides you and your child may welcome the break from each other.

7.    Live Within Your Means:  The biggest stressors during the holiday season are money (or lack of) and time (or lack of).  It is hard but these are two things within our control.  It is important to live within your budget, operate within your time limitations and more importantly keep your expectations in proper prospective.  Keep things simple.

8.    Practice patience.  Bad things happen!!  Arguments, meltdowns, misunderstandings, frustrations, conflicts etc. are going to occur.  These things happen in every family so you are not alone.  The best advice is to practice patience and tolerance.  What you don’t want to do is get emotionally stuck in anger and resentments.  Sometimes you just have to let things go and stop letting let bad events define who you or your children are as people.  Embrace the good moments.

9.    Ask For Your Child’s Opinion.   Parents should always have the final say on important matters but children should also be allowed to express their opinion or matters that affect them.  It is a sign of respect them you ask them for their input.  Let them participate in the family holiday plans.

10.    They Need Exercise:  If children had their way they would sit all day and watch T.V. or play video games.  These activities have their place and all children need some “down time”   but don’t let these things consume their day.  Children, especially children with ADHD need a healthy dose of physical activities every day.  Children need to burn off lots of energy so plan their day around physical activities.  Keep them busy!  Having said this, remember that they also need structured quiet down time.  So do you.

11.    Transitioning Back to School:  Holidays are going to come to an end and just like you had to plan for holidays you also have to plan to help your child successfully transition back to school and the return to the typical routines of home.   It might be helpful to think of a creative ritual to saying good bye to school.  A family supper or a conversation about the best moments of the holiday season comes to mind.  It is also an opportunity to get them excited about returning to school.

PS. There is a new Facebook resource for parents.
And Happy Holidays from the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba!

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Teaching a Student with a Learning Disabilities

The importance of the teacher in helping a child identify and overcome a learning disability can’t be overstated. An educated and understanding teacher can ease many of the hurdles a child with a learning disability experiences in the classroom. A teacher is often the first person to identify a learning disability in a child and is often called upon to help find resources and a learning plan to help the child succeed.

Having a learning disability is no indicator of intelligence. Children with learning disabilities often have average or above average intelligence, but their ability does not translate into certain aspects of their work. The Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba encourages teachers to help students with learning disabilities by researching and understanding the disability and providing instruction and accommodations to address the student’s needs.

For example, depending on the child, he or she may have trouble processing certain types of written or verbal instructions. As a teacher, you can help by breaking tasks into small steps and giving direction in the way most accessible to the child. If possible, also use pictures to illustrate the lesson. A student with a learning disability may need more time to process problems than other students. If possible, allow the student more time to finish a project or a test and provide him or her with well-designed, and intentional practice lessons to do at home. Some students will have trouble writing their own notes. Letting them borrow notes from a classmate, or letting them use a computer that will correct spelling and grammar can go a long way in helping them learn. Some students may wish to use a recording device during class so they can listen back to your instructions, or they may prefer to listen to an audio textbook instead of reading it themselves. One of the keys to success is to be flexible.

Another thing an educator can do is to teach organizational, study and learning skills. This will help all students but will be particularly helpful to the student with a learning disability. Helping the student adopt the proper strategies for learning will have a huge impact on him or her, both in your class, and throughout his or her life.

We provide support and resources to teachers across Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba, giving them what they need to better handle learning disabilities in the classroom. We also offer children’s literacy tutoring to provide an option for extra help outside of class time. Some children may need more help than others and our Arrowsmith Program  is an option for children that have cognitive deficits that are preventing them from benefiting from, utilizing, and building their areas of strength. These children, while working hard, continue to fall further and further behind. Arrowsmith is an intense cognition-building program that is offered half time in collaboration with school or full time in collaboration with home schooling. To find out more, please contact us at (204) 774-1821.

Posted in Arrowsmith, Resources

Six Decades of Learning Disabilities in Manitoba

If you or someone close to you have a learning disability, you know how much it means when somebody lends a helping hand. At the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba (LDAM) we have been helping young people and their parents, as well as adults, identify and work with their learning disabilities and attention disorders through information, support, programs and services.

There weren’t always services available to help those with learning disabilities in Manitoba. LDAM was formed in the 1960s by a group of parents trying to help their own children as they struggled with schoolwork and social progression. Little was known about learning disabilities at the time, so the first task of those parents was to research, learn and spread the word. LDAM’s founders worked with professionals to gather information about learning disabilities that would help their children move past the often rudimentary reading or math problems they were struggling with in the classroom. They knew the problem wasn’t about intelligence and they set out to prove that to the education system.

Since then, we at LDAM—along with our sister LDAs across Canada—have been working in collaboration with families, psychologists, doctors, and educators. Today we see more people than ever receiving the attention and support they need to deal with their learning disability, but there are still thousands more that are going undiagnosed and untreated.

As we move into our sixth decade, we remain relentlessly passionate about reaching every individual in need of our assistance as we provide services such as literacy tutoring, youth mentorship groups, parenting and employment programs and more. It’s thanks to our supporters that we have been able to make the difference we have, but there are still so many people falling through the cracks.

With your help we can reach more children, teens and adults with learning disabilities.

If you would like to make a donation to support us in our important work, please visit the Donate Now section of our website.

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Posted in Resources

What Jeffrey Moore’s Story Means for Children with Disabilities

Gavel in Courtroom Any parent who has a child with a learning disability should hear the story of Jeffrey Moore. It is a story of parents who fought for their child’s right to have access to the educational support he needed to learn in public schools. Though Jeffrey is now past school age, his parents’ tenacity, with help from organizations that stand up for those with disabilities, caused the Supreme Court of Canada to make a decision in 2012 that will have a profound impact on other students who are experiencing the same kind of difficulties.

Diagnosed with severe dyslexia when he was young, Jeffrey had difficulty learning to read. For the first years of his education in the public school system in B.C. he received a range of support services. However, after funding cuts from the Province, the North Vancouver School District eliminated a program important to his education. Jeffrey’s parents were advised by school officials to enroll Jeffrey in private school—which they did at significant financial sacrifice.

Jeffrey’s father filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the school district and the Province claiming the school district had failed to provide the special education supports that Jeffrey needed in order to get meaningful access to general education. The Tribunal determined that both Jeffrey individually and students with severe learning disabilities in general had been victim to discrimination.

The Tribunal’s decision was later overturned by the B.C. Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal for B.C. The courts said that there was no evidence Jeffrey had been treated worse than other students with disabilities but the Moores were granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

On November 9, 2012—approximately fifteen years after the original complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal—the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Moores. The decision signals that individuals have a deeply founded right to access a meaningful education. The ruling concluded that “adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury. For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia.”

The Moore case is a victory for students with disabilities across Canada. It gives students with learning disabilities the right to access the special education programs they need to learn. With the proper programs in place, students with learning disabilities will have better tools to help overcome their disabilities and move on to achieve their dreams—and that’s something we can all be proud of.

If you’d like to find out more about the case, read the full Supreme Court of Canada decision.

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Managing Learning Disabilities with LDAM

child learningThe Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba helps people who have learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders reach their goals and live better lives. Located in Winnipeg, we work with people of all ages and backgrounds from children to prison inmates and also provide educational and networking support for the family and friends of those with a disability.

One of the most popular services we offer is children’s literacy tutoring. Children up to age 11 come to learn about their disabilities along with their parents. Through one on one tutoring with our trained instructors, children improve their reading and writing abilities while mastering new learning skills and strategies.

We also provide training for parents on how to support their children so they can more confidently approach their schoolwork and various social situations.

Our organization is the only one of its kind in the province. We are dedicated to providing learning disability and attention deficit disorder information, programming and services for individuals, families and professionals.

The good news is that once diagnosed, accepted and treated, most people with learning disabilities can overcome their conditions and enjoy satisfying, productive lives with their families and in our communities.

We are affiliated with the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, and its other provincial and territorial branches as well as the Manitoba chapters of LDAM in Portage La Prairie and Brandon.

If you would like to support us in our important work, visit our ‘Ways to Donate’ page to see how your gift could make an impact. A donation of only $10 will support one hour of children’s tutoring, while a gift of $150 could help that same child for 10 weeks! We appreciate the tremendous support we have already received from those in Winnipeg and beyond and look forward to expanding our services even more in the coming years.

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Overcoming Learning Disabilities with Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

The Women Who Changed Her Brain

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was born with multiple learning disabilities that made school, work and life incredibly challenging. She read and wrote everything backwards, couldn’t grasp the relationship between the little and the big hand on the clock, had trouble processing concepts in language, continually got lost, and was physically uncoordinated. The challenges she faced, and the methods she learned to succeed, are the basis for her best selling book, “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain” and the innovative Arrowsmith Program which originated in Toronto in 1978 and today is implemented in 38 schools in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

Today Arrowsmith-Young holds both a B.A.Sc. in Child Studies from the University of Guelph, and a Master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Toronto. She began the initial research on what would later be the Arrowsmith Program when she was a young graduate student in psychology, frustrated with the amount of energy required to work around her disabilities. She came across the work of Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, who studied soldiers who had suffered head wounds.

“Using Luria’s detailed descriptions of the functions of various brain regions, I identified 19 unique learning dysfunctions,” she writes. “And after reading the research of Mark Rosenzweig who demonstrated that stimulation could improve the brains of rats, I theorized that a person could transform weak areas of the brain through repetitive and targeted cognitive exercises. With much reading and an intuitive understanding of the brain’s functioning, I invented a series of cognitive exercises to “fix” my own brain.”

Her findings led her to create brain exercises designed to improve the learning capacity involved in logical reasoning. After experiencing positive results, Arrowsmith-Young dived deeper, and developed more exercises to strengthen specific learning capacities.  This is the ongoing work of Arrowsmith School which currently identifies and strengthens 19 cognitive areas.

“In the past five years, the idea that self-improvement can happen in the brain has caught hold and inspired new hope,” Arrowsmith-Young wrote. “Assessment measures and brain exercises have been developed to identify and then strengthen weak cognitive capacities that underlie specific learning disabilities. From these developments and with my vision for this program to be widely available to all struggling students, the Arrowsmith Program and School was born.”

Arrowsmith-Young is the director of the Arrowsmith School and Arrowsmith Program. She is continually developing programs, with a vision of one day making the Arrowsmith Program available to all students with a learning disability, so that they may know the ease and joy of learning.

For more information about Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, and to purchase her book, visit: www.barbaraarrowsmithyoung.com

The Arrowsmith Program may soon be available for Winnipeg children. To find out more, contact the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba.


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LDA Manitoba bringing world renowned Arrowsmith Program to Winnipeg

Helps students overcome learning disabilities and function at a high level
Special free presentation Thursday, May 23

Winnipeg, MB – May 21, 2013 – The Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba (LDAM) is bringing the world renowned Arrowsmith Program to Winnipeg for the first time with classes starting in September 2013. Created by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, and based on neuroscience research and 30 years of experience, the program has proven successful in helping students overcome mild to severe learning disabilities.

“The Arrowsmith Program has been changing the lives of individuals and families coping with learning disabilities. We are very pleased to bring it to Manitoba for the first time,” said Marilyn MacKinnon, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba. “Most programs address learning disabilities by teaching students to compensate for their weaknesses. This program is focused on strengthening weak cognitive areas.”

Parents will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the program at a special free presentation this Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. next door to the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba at 623 Erin Street. Jessica Poulin, the Managing Coordinator for the Arrowsmith Program, will describe the program and be on hand to answer questions.

“Arrowsmith doesn’t teach students to work around their problems, which is a common method of trying to cope with learning disabilities. Instead, under-functioning areas of the brain are targeted, stimulated and strengthened. It is like a workout for your brain – only unlike a muscle, brain tissue does not atrophy so there is no drop-off in function,” said Poulin. “Over the years, we have heard from many Manitoba parents looking for more information on Arrowsmith, so we’re very happy to be partnering with the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba to bring the program here.”

The program is designed to individually identify each student’s weak cognitive capacities. The program then uses intensive and graduated exercises to strengthen weak cognitive capacities. It is suitable for students with a wide range of mild to severe learning problems. It is designed to help students with average to above average intelligence who have one or more learning dysfunctions including in the following skills: reading, writing, mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, auditory memory and processing, and dyslexia.


About the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba (www.ldamanitoba.org)
The Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba helps people with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders reach their goals and live better lives. We work with people of just about any age – from school children and teens to adults – while also providing educational and networking support for their friends and families. Founded in the 1960s, the organization has grown to become a leading resource for individuals, families, educators and medical professionals seeking help in dealing with learning disabilities.

About the Arrowsmith Program (www.arrowsmithschool.org)
The Arrowsmith Program identifies and strengthens the weaker cognitive capacities that underlie learning disabilities that affect learning and the acquisition of academic and social skills. Arrowsmith is available to students in public and private schools and various Learning Disability Associations in Canada, the United States and Australia. The program has been offered in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) since 1997.

Program Contact:
Marilyn MacKinnon
Executive Director
Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba
204-774-1821 ext 14

Media Contact:
Adam Dooley
204-291-4092 – mobile



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Change your brain, Change your life

arrowsmith poster picThe Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba is proud to announce we will be offering the Arrowsmith Program beginning September 2013!

Here’s your chance to learn all about it.

Join us at our location in Winnipeg to hear our special guest speaker Jessica Poulin, Managing Coordinator, Arrowsmith School Toronto. Learn more about this revolutionary program and how you can register your child for the program.

What: Change your brain, change your life presentation
Where: 623 Erin St., Winnipeg
Who: Jessica Poulin, Managing Coordinator, Arrowsmith School Toronto

Please RSVP to 204-774-1821 (ext. 14) if you’d like to attend.

Click here to download the flyer.

The Arrowsmith Program is founded on neuroscience research and over 30 years of experience demonstrating that it is possible for students to strengthen the weak cognitive
capacities underlying their learning dysfunctions through a program of specific cognitive exercises. It identifies, intervenes and strengthens the weak cognitive capacities that affect learning.

The program offers full or half time programming to mild, moderate and severely learning disabled children. Some slots are available for youth and young adults.

Registration is limited. If you are interested please call (204) 774-1821 – extension 14 to set up an appointment prior to the Parent Night.


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Does My Child Have a Learning Disability?

Child ReadingDo you suspect that your child might have a learning disability?

If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, you’ve probably spent time researching it. You understand how he or she learns best and where he or she struggles. Maybe you even use technology, or other tools to help manage the disability. But if your child has a learning disability and you don’t know it, you won’t understand why he or she can’t master some tasks, and without understanding you’ll never be able to get the help you need.

Having a learning disability isn’t the same as being unintelligent. In fact, you can be of average or above-average intelligence and still struggle to keep up with people your age at school or at work.

Learning disabilities can affect a person’s ability in the areas of:

• Listening
• Speaking
• Reading
• Writing
• Mathematics

There are many resources online to help you. If you suspect your child has a learning disability spend some time researching common disabilities and their symptoms. For example, if your child had extreme difficulty counting by 2s, 3s or 4s, it may be that they have dyscalculia, a learning disability that makes it difficult to learn mathematics. At Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba, we’re here to support you in your search. Approximately 60 per cent of the calls we receive each year are from parents concerned about their children.

Learning disabilities don’t affect every person the same way, and though two people have dyscalculia, one may have a much more severe case than the other. If you think your child may have a learning disability, call us, or compare notes about what you’ve observed with the teachers, doctors and others in your life. If the difficulty your child is experiencing is widespread, we’re here to help you determine if your child has a learning disability and to offer support.

There is no set way to manage a learning disability. Instead, parents must try many strategies and see what works best. But realize, you are not alone: 1 in 10 Canadians have a learning disability and it is never too late to get help. In fact, at LDAM we offer many courses and programs to help children learn despite their disability. Once you’ve identified a learning disability it is much easier to take the steps you need to help your child succeed.

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