Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our Top 10 Favourited VPD/SSS/Irlen Helps

We get asked about the things we like the most in our homeschool, but something I need to clarify is that while we have curriculum that we think rocks, books we love, & tools that help make our days run smoothly many of our choices are also based on the needs my children have.

I often refer to it as a "vision" issue, but in all factuality it's a neurological problem which is why depth perception & headaches are also a huge part of struggling with VPD/SSS/Irlen. It just so happens that because we process things differently we see more intently, we hear more loudly, & some of us even have an extremely heightened sense of smell & touch. Below is our list of favourite items that help us through our days with a VPD/SSS/Irlen diagnosis.

1. Audio Books. In all honestly we've been using audio books since well before my children were even born. I'd check them out of the library & pop them on the tape or cd player in the car as I drove my husband to & from work. Our top favourite source for Audio books is, of course, The selection of books is not only amazing the narration done on the audio book they have is phenomenal.  I'm not going to say every audio book is a winner, but in 10 years of being a member we've only had 2 that we weren't particularly keen on the narration of.  Other sources for audio books are: ScribD & Learning Ally {see below for more details}.

2. iPad/iPod. If someone were to ask who is most opposed to electronics in our home there'd be a resounding answer of, "Mum!" It's true. I'm often asking people if they have a timer running while they are using a device, or asking what they are doing {playing or learning}, or any one of a million other questions. Funny thing is, 2-3 years ago I lobbied for my son to get an iPad for his birthday. Crazy, right? I thought so, especially considering his age. Truthfully, though, I knew he needed it. Yes, needed. He needed it for audio books, text to speech ability, Siri Capability, & a vast array of other things that help him navigate his day. I'm not gonna lie I've never been a big Siri's fan. She's annoying, she never understands anything I say, & it seems I always activate her when all I want to do is check the time or my step count for the day. However, my boy has learned not only how to navigate Siri's unusual temperament, but her vast ability to help him. He's no longer ashamed ot play word games with anyone, he's no longer afraid to play games that require him to read or write in front of others, & he's no longer intimidated by books that take him 500x longer to read then most people. If he can't figure out how to spell a word, or he wants to verify that he's read a word correctly, or he wants to know the meaning of a word, he simply asks Siri. Sure, he can ask Mr S or I, & he knows it. He asks us all the time, he asks us so much there are times when I have to say, "I want to help you, but I'm so tired I'm not even sure if I've called you by your real name, your nickname, or some name I made up without even realising I did it. Ask Siri."

3. Calculator. Our eldest has VPD/SSS/Irlen on the extreme side & this means that when he's doing multi-step math problems he knows exactly what he's doing, but it's not uncommon for him to write a number backwards, upside down, or simply align them wrong. A calculator helps him not only survive math, it helps him thrive. This kid is crazy smart & the use of a calculator allows that ability to shine. He was terrified the first time I instructed him to use a calculator! "No way that's cheating, & I'm not going to cheat no matter how long it takes me!" I had to explain that a calculator can't give you the answer if you don't know how to find it yourself. There are times when he'll opt out of using a calculator for fear of getting rusty on his basic facts, days like that we split the difference & he does half the problems with a calculator & half without. It's helped rebuild his confidence in math.

4. Coloured Paper. I've mentioned it a few times over around here, but our specialist has the kids using coloured paper. The difference between my kids writing on white paper vs the colour that works best for their VPD/SSS/Irlen is amazing. I've shared photos & stories over & over of the difference with my kids & it never ceases to amaze someone who sees it. In fact, there are times when it amazes the culprit as well.

5. Glasses. Okay, so I know I stated that VPD/SSS/Irlen is not a vision problem, & it's not, which might make you wonder why glasses are a big deal. Did you know that of the 3 people in our home who have tested positive, none of us wear glasses? Two of us have been told forever & a day we have perfect vision while the other one has an underdeveloped ability to read small print, but it wasn't worthy of reading glasses. Our glasses look pretty snazzy with fancy tints in them in an array of colours, & while we're often asked if we're wearing sunnies we aren't. The objective of the tints is to help channel out the colour we are over processing. Yellow & red for all of us. Without our glasses we are grumpy, irritable, mean people who can't see straight & are often walking around rubbing our eyes & our heads.

6. E-books. I'm not a fan of ebooks, I've never been a fan of them. I've tried to be a fan, I have. I've read a few fictional novels on my Kindle Keyboard & I've enjoyed the experience, but in general I'm a real book kinda person. However, our eldest's thrives on Ebooks. He can adjust the size of the font, the colour of the pages, & the brightness of his screen when using his ipad. When I have him reading most eBooks he uses the Kindle Touch which has no lit back screen & is spot on amazing for him. He can still adjust font size & feel like he's reading a book just like everybody else. Our #1 source for ebooks is Amazon merely because they have a huge amount of them, but we do use other sources like ScribD. You pay a monthly subscription fee & have access to hundreds of ebooks & audio books. The catch is you can only access 1 audio book per month without paying extra & the ebooks can only be accessed on the Kindle Fire or an iPad or other tablet. Even still this kid is plowing through books of late making our $8 subscription to the website worth it.

7. I'm not sure how available this is to people outside of the USA, but I've seen it up for grabs over on Homeschool Buyers Co-Op as well as directly through their website. An annual subscription {not on special} is $119 USD, which isn't exactly cheap in my book. However, the world of books this opens up for my boy & the ability to do the Lit portion of his school on his own is totally worth the price. Many of Learning Ally's books are narrated by volunteers & if we lived stateside we'd absolutely sign up to contribute! You do need a letter from your Dr or Specialist stating that your child has a verified vision or learning disability that would benefit from audio books before they will grant you more then a 14 Day trial to the website. If you don't have a letter or confirmation they are willing & able to help you get that.

8. DragonSpeak. The programme itself is pricey & you have to pay for updates. It takes time to figure out & train, but once you do this programme is amazing. Just because my children have been diagnosed with VPD/SSS/Irlen doesn't mean they aren't required & taught to write. Our eldest, specifically, uses DragonSpeak to write his papers, take notes, & more. If you go with this programme you're going to really have to take the time to train the computer to work with you. One way I've done this is to have my children grab a 'baby' book & read to the programme one sentence at a time & then verify that everything was spelled correctly by Mr Dragon-Breath. I used this programme, for a while, to turn some of my boy's reading books into printable copies. Insanely time consuming, but he needed his books on Blue Paper & this was a method that worked for us.

9. Epson WP-4530 Printer. We've owned many Epson printers over the years, but this one, by far, has to be our top notch favourite. When our last printer needed replacing I had a list of specifics I wanted & this printer not only cleared ALL of those, but more. The ink lasts a LONG time which is a HUGE need in our home considering all my kids school books have to be copied onto their specially coloured paper. I wanted a flat loading paper tray because in the summer, around here, the paper can get all curly & such in the humidity. Add to that I can take a kid mathbook spine off & put it in the top of this printer, click 3 buttons & it will print both sides of the paper out without me needing to hover nearby. Love. I can print out the kids PDF books 2 sided with 1 click of the button, & my boy is delighted he can print from his ipad too. This printer is AMAZING. It prints, copies, scans, & faxes. All though, we've never intentionally used the fax option.

10.  Our beloved Dr T. I know she's made it 10th instead of 1st, but in all fairness this list is in no particular order. Dr T has not only helped us figure out what's going on & find a solution she truely engages with the children & wants to know what they've been up to during all those months since she saw them last. She & our eldest got carried away for 20 minutes discussing Field Hockey, & the delights, funs, & sorrows of the game. He shared with her how he had the ability to use a blue ball in one game & how he felt his ability to play was better then when his team used a white ball. He's right, actually, not only was he more aggressive he scored 3 goals in the first half.  Our youngest, being knew to the process, was nervous about the whole thing but she made him feel comfortable & listened to him without ounce blowing off any or his silly or sarcastic comments. She knows how hard to push them & exactly when they can't take another moment of it. She never leaves me, as a parent or a teacher, feeling like I could have done more for my children. I constantly walk away knowing I'm doing all I can for my children & generally leave behind names of resources we've found incredibly helpful that she's keen to pass on to other patients.

You may not find that all of these items work well for you, admittedly we don't all use every resource above. Our eldest, having VPD/SSS/Irlen the most severely absolutely uses every single resource above, where as my youngest & I tend to only use some of them. However, every day is different & that means our needs for the resources above differ based on the day.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

That is fantastic. You have done so well in meeting the needs of your children while still keeping the beauty in your home education. I really enjoyed this post. I'm sure it will help others who are on a similar journey. Thank you.