Q: What types of evaluations can be done at ETS?

posted Feb 15, 2017, 4:09 PM by Nancy Bell

A:   There is a wide variety of evaluation components.  We can do any of these components, or all of them for a comprehensive battery.  Evaluations may include....
* Classroom observations--ever wonder how your child behaves in class?  Is he focused?  Does he participate?
*  IQ testing--what is your child's ability level?
*  Cognitive testing--How does your child learn and think?  How are his short-term and long-term memory?  How does he process visual information and auditory information?
*  Reading skills--Does your child struggle with decoding words?  Can he decode but not comprehend what he reads?  How is his fluency?
* Math skills--what are his strengths and weaknesses?  Is he on grade-level?
* Writing skills--How are his spelling skills?  How are his written expression skills?
* Rating scales (teacher, parent, and/or self-reports)--Does your child struggle with emotional issues?  Does he have ADHD?  How are his social and adaptive skills?

If you have questions, call Dr. Bell for a consultation (843) 810-9202 

Q: How can my child be a voracious reader but have such difficulty with spelling?

posted Feb 9, 2017, 4:49 AM by Nancy Bell

A:  Recent studies using functional MRI analysis have allowed us to map the areas of the brain that we use in reading and writing.  They have shown that about 20 percent of people are chronically poor spellers due to a neurological glitch.  Typically, there are three zones of the brain used - one in the front (the left inferior frontal gyrus) and two towards the back (the left parieto-temporal system and the occipito-temporal).  For the 20 percent who struggle with spelling, it looks as if the areas in the back of the brain are less engaged during the process.  For them, the left parieto-temporal and occipito-temporal stay relatively quiet, with most of the reading activity remaining in the frontal area.  They may build up compensatory pathways, but they are not reading the normal way.  So, if his is not engaging his occipito-temporal area in particular, he is going to struggle with spelling because he is not able to visualize words.  And with so many irregularly spelled words in English, he is going to be wrong a lot of the time.  So, in other words, he may be a very capable reader, but he may be doing so in an atypical way and not utilizing the parts of his brain for reading that would also help him in spelling.

If your student needs help in spelling, instruction works best when it is focuses on sounds and letters in a systematic, explicit, and structured manner which is exactly how our Wilson program works.  Call Dr. Bell for a consultation at (843) 810-9202.

Q: My child reverses his b's and d's. Should I be concerned that he may have dyslexia?

posted Jan 27, 2017, 9:30 AM by Nancy Bell

A: Writing letter reversals is fairly common and is developmentally normal through kindergarten and even grade 1.  We become more concerned if it continues beyond about age 7.  Having said that, it does not necessarily signify that your child has dyslexia. Many people continue to have letter reversals but are not dyslexic. Dyslexia (a reading learning disability) is a complex group of difficulties and there is no standard profile. That is, children diagnosed with dyslexia can have different struggles.  Letter reversals may or may not be part of them.  Most developmental letter reversals go away with little intervention.  Our favorite intervention for b/d reversals at ETS is using the "bed trick."  Call Dr. Bell if you have concerns about your child's learning at (843) 810-9202.

Q: How is your Wilson Reading program different than other reading programs?

posted Jan 19, 2017, 2:30 PM by Nancy Bell

A:  We have had a lot of success with students and the Wilson program over the last 12 years--both children with dyslexia and children who just need a little boost and more decoding strategies.  It is different from other reading programs because it teaches sounds through a multisensory approach for both reading and spelling.  It utilizes "controlled text" so that everything the student is presented with is decodable with the sounds he has been taught, even the names in stories!  Lastly, there are no picture clues so the student is dependent on using their decoding skills--no guessing!

The "Don't Do" List

posted Dec 16, 2016, 1:35 PM by Nancy Bell

Guest Blog by Jordan Graffis, Owner of Landmark 12 Consulting

Finalize a college list?  Check.  Complete applications? Check.  Proof-read essays?  Check.

With senior year in full swing, many high school students are busy juggling their classes and college admissions requirements.  It’s one of the most stressful times in their young lives.  Many of them are taking challenging coursework to better prepare them for college, actively engaging in extracurriculars for their student resumes, and trying to manage the long list of application deadlines.  The to-do list goes on and on, and many students feel like they can’t check requirements off fast enough.  It quickly becomes overwhelming.

To help during this stressful time, I thought I would provide a “Don’t-Do” list.  It’s a short run-down of the things students don’t need to worry about.

First, don’t sweat the small stuff.  It’s trite but true.  Students get so caught up in trying to earn the top grade, being the best player on the field, and being elected to a top position in their clubs that they aren’t cherishing this very special time in their lives.  True, it’s important to demonstrate work ethic and dedication when applying to college, but it’s easy to go overboard. Try to relax, and don’t take yourself too seriously.  Enjoy high school because the real world is quickly approaching.   

Speaking of grades, teams and clubs… that brings me to my second “don’t-do.”  Don’t fluff up your student resumes with a thousand extracurricular activities, many of which you minimally participated in or don’t care about.  You’re not fooling anyone.  College admissions officers know you’re exaggerating because no one can be actively, passionately involved in that many things.  So list the ones that you’re most proud of; the ones you held leadership roles in or were very involved with; the ones that best represent who you are.

And speaking of those admission officers, here’s my third “don’t do: Don’t bombard them with calls and emails.  Often times, that “urgent” question you have isn’t really that urgent, and if you took some time to really think about it, or research it, before picking up the phone, you could probably come up with the answer yourself.  Also, there’s a reason that the FAQ section exists on colleges’ websites.  Always check that first before potentially setting yourself apart from other applicants in a not-so-flattering way.

Finally, the last two “don’t-do’s” are actually “to-do’s”.  (I just couldn’t help myself.  I love a good to-do list):  Don’t forget to proof-read your applications and don’t wait until the last minute to start on essays.  With those applications, it’s easy to get into a rhythm, since you’re filling out so many, but it’s also easy to make mistakes.  You want that application to be the best representation of who you are…so always proof-read.

As for the essays, they’re a great way to show the “real” you.  They are your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants… in a good way.  So make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas, write several drafts, and of course, proof-read. Essays always take students longer than they thought they would.  So consider yourself warned.  Also, it could be argued that this part of the application is one of the most important, so give it the attention it deserves.

Still feeling overwhelmed (especially since I just gave you two extra to-do’s)?  Don’t stress.  Landmark 12 Consulting can help with everything listed above.  We’ll even manage your to-do (and your don’t-do) list.  That way, you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Hey, it’s trite but true.

To get help with your college application process, call Jordan Graffis at (843) 901-2545 or visit

Q: What is auditory processing disorder, and how would I know if my child had it?

posted Dec 14, 2016, 9:14 AM by Nancy Bell

A:  Auditory processing disorder (also known as central auditory processing disorder or CAPD) makes it hard for children to recognize subtle differences between sounds in words. They have normal hearing but struggle to process what other people are saying, especially when there are background noises.  Here are some possible signs of CAPD:
The child may have a hard time following spoke directions, especially multi-step instructions

The child may frequently ask someone to repeat what he/she said

The child may be easily distracted, especially by background noises

The child may have trouble with reading and spelling which require the ability to process and interpret complex sounds

The child may have a hard time following conversations

The child may have difficulty remembering details of what was read or heard

CAPD can affect a child’s ability to communicate, understand, learn, and socialize with others.  If you have questions or concerns, please call Dr. Bell (843) 810-9202 to discuss strategies for helping your child at home and in the class and for appropriate referrals to other professionals.  

Q: What are some of the early warning signs of a reading difficulty?

posted Nov 22, 2016, 7:53 AM by Marlana Preston

A:  One of the myths about dyslexia, a reading learning disability, is that these children have letter reversals.  While some of them may, it is not automatically a sign of a learning disability and many people with dyslexia do not experience reversals at all.  Besides, letter and number reversals are developmentally appropriate until about age 7 and then we expect them to begin to grow out of it.  If reversals continue, look for these additional possible signs of a reading difficulty (not an exhaustive list):

Difficulty with pronunciation
Difficulty with rhyming
Talking around a word
Using vague words
Difficulty learning names of words and sounds in alphabet
Confuses the order of letters in words
Poor decoding and spelling ability
Guesses at words
Poor reading fluency and comprehension
Doesn’t recognize words previously learned
Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home)
Difficulty remembering what he just read
Difficulty concentrating when reading/writing

The average grade for a diagnosis of dyslexia is 3rd grade, but as with most learning difficulties, the earlier the detection and intervention, the better the outcome.  Your child does not have to have dyslexia for him to benefit from reading tutoring to improve their abilities.  If you have concerns about your child’s reading skills, please call for a consultation (843) 810-9202.

Q: What is the difference between bribing and rewarding my child? Aren't they the same thing?

posted Nov 11, 2016, 6:33 AM by Marlana Preston

Bribing and rewarding are similar in that your child is getting something for doing what you want him to do.  However, bribery can include interactions in which parents promise all types of tempting rewards or activities in exchange for behaving appropriately, usually out of desperation during times of stress. It often happens quickly, when all you want is to change your child’s behavior on the spot, so you offer him something that you had no previous intention of offering. As a result, kids can come to expect something extra for simply completing their daily responsibilities or behaving appropriately, which can in turn lead to a sense of entitlement.  This pattern can ultimately teach your child to act out to get what they want.  

On the other hand, the effective use of rewards is quite different, because you are compensating your child for his good behavior. Rewards then, as opposed to bribery, are a preplanned list of rewards that are discussed with the child ahead of time. That way, when your child behaves in the grocery store, for example, he knows ahead of time what his reward will be—and so will you.  Whenever possible, determine most rewards in advance and be clear with behavioral expectations.  While the goal is always to motive your child to please his parents and receive intrinsic rewards such as satisfaction, at different phases in their development and with different behaviors, children may be more motivated by external things.

So take a look at what behavior you might be reinforcing and how you are reinforcing it.  Remember that when you resort to bribery to control your child’s behavior, the price that you wind up paying is actually a lot higher than it may seem in the moment. Instead, require that your child earn reasonable rewards by taking care of his responsibilities and making positive steps toward improving his behavior.

Need to help with establishing appropriate behavior patterns with your children?  Call Dr. Bell at (843) 810-9202.

Q: When is the best time for my child to take the SAT or ACT?

posted Sep 14, 2016, 1:13 PM by Nancy Bell

A:  Both the SAT and ACT are administered multiple times per year (Sept through June).  There are several things for parents and their students to consider:  Plan on taking the test at least 2 times and begin preparing for the tests at least a year before the first deadline for college admission or scholarships.  Also, consider which high school classes have been taken –test scores will be higher after the student has taken Geometry and Algebra II.  Finally, think about how many other activities that are going on in a particular month and try to register for the test when there is the least amount of stress or distractions.  This way your student can focus on test preparation.  Keep in mind that the last chance to take them for January college admission deadlines is usually the November/December SAT and ACT test dates of his Senior year.  

What can I do for my child who struggles to read and guesses after the first syllable?

posted May 12, 2016, 9:47 AM by Nancy Bell

Summer is a great time to improve their skills! ETS is offering the Reading REWARDS program where students are taught strategies to increase speed and accuracy with reading and spelling multi-syllabic words. This program is designed for students from grades 4 through 12. 

This is what one parent said last summer: "My daughter had some vision problems that we did not discover until she was in 3rd grade. Although she was able to read, she missed some of the fundamentals that she needed to properly decode and sound out words. Dr. Bell was able to 'catch her up' over the summer on the skills that she had missed over the last several years. Her reading fluency increased and her confidence improved! She now enjoys reading and that makes this parent very happy!" 

Not sure if this program would be helpful for your child? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Bell for a FREE reading screening to assess his/her skills. Call Dr. Bell at 810-9202

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