Browsing articles in "Special Needs"

Research Tested, Parent Approved

Feb 23, 2016   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Research, Special Needs, Technology  //  No Comments

by Kurt Dragomanovich

Almost every day, we here at CLC overhear a parent talking about their child’s struggle with reading, inability to pay attention, or difficulty listening to and understanding what their teacher is saying in class! Little do these parents know that an online-based program backed by over thirty years of independent research could make a difference for their child in as little as 30 minutes a day.


Fast ForWord targets the foundational skills for learning.

Fast ForWord does what no other intervention can do: it starts with cognitive skills like memory, attention, processing speed, and sequencing and works from the bottom up, using the principles of neuroplasticity. Fast ForWord aims to remediate the underlying difficulties that keep struggling readers and English language learners from making progress.

The Center for Communication Skills is proud to be a private provider for the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs developed by Scientific Learning. Recently, we came across three parent success stories that we thought were too good not to share. Check them out!


Amanda VanDeWege’s story about her daughter: “Fast ForWord® User Review Journal Entries”
4 weeks into Fast ForWord: “My DD is READING!!!  She is reading over my shoulder as I type. She is reading sentences in books. She is reading labels in the stores as we walk by.  This is amazing!  She has been learning to read for over two years…Her working memory capacity is also noticeably increased in that she can play the sound memory game now without difficulty.  This is evident in her reading in that she can now read a whole 5-7 word sentence all the way through once and remember the beginning words.”

Samantha Taylor’s story about her son, Joey
Between 3-7 weeks of Fast ForWord: “We see it in the classroom,” his teacher said. “He’s paying more attention because he is processing more of what we are saying.” I remembered that Joey’s private speech therapist had recently noticed that the past few weeks he was more relaxed, cracking more jokes, and flying through exercises that he had struggled with. “It’s just going to get better from here,” the teacher exclaimed.

Tess Messer’s story about her son: “Fast Forward Review, Central Auditory Processing Disorder and ADHD”
“My son has been using an CAPD software program called Fast ForWord that has helped him tremendously. It works to improve and increase language skills and it also works on auditory memory and on reducing detailed information to a more basic representation. He has completed his second module and his auditory processing and language skills have improved tremendously.” 

A large number of the parents who have had their children complete Fast ForWord with us over the years have excitedly written testimonials of their own. We are always happy to hear about how the program has helped so many struggling learners become successful students!

To learn more about Fast ForWord, visit the Online Programs section of our website, or call us at (559) 228-9100 for a free demonstration of the program!

About the Author
Kurt Dragomanovich is a Speech-Language Pathology graduate student at California State University, Fresno. He also serves as the Program Coordinator of the Center for Communication Skills’ Learning Academy and Online Programs.

I Want to Say….

Apr 20, 2012   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Special Needs, Speech, Superstars, Technology  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

Kayla Takeuchi is no stranger to starring in feature films. “I Want to Say” is a new film about Kayla and others who use technology in new and exciting ways to move past their limitations and take their place in the world.  Hewlett Packard started the project to find new markets for their TouchSmart technology.  From their efforts emerged Hacking Autism, an initiative to develop and deploy technology to give people with autism a voice.  You can read more about the movie and watch a trailer at the link below.

The Power Of An Insight Poignantly Comes To Life, Sparks Social Good

The Mysterious Case of the Unhappy Learner

Feb 5, 2012   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Health, Special Needs, Speech  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

What happened to that well-adjusted, smart child who had a great summer away from school? Are you seeing homework meltdowns, hearing from the teacher that there are behavioral concerns, or getting progress reports that are dismal? You wonder why your once well-adjusted child is now unhappy, distracted or acting out. If only your child would “try harder” to pay attention in class. Tears, anger, frustration and withdrawal now replace the happy well-adjusted behavior that was the norm all summer long. If this scenario sounds familiar, it may not be so mysterious: your child may have dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a genetic, language-based learning disability present in 10-15 % of the population. It is a condition resulting in difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading and spelling. Over time there is often an emotional, behavioral cost that may influence personality over a lifespan.

While most dyslexics are happy and well-adjusted before they start school, dyslexia eventually takes its toll on social relationships because:

  1. Dyslexic children may be physically and socially immature in comparison to their peers. This can lead to a poor self-image and reduced confidence.
  2. Dyslexic children may have difficulty reading social cues. They may be oblivious to the amount of personal distance appropriate in social interactions and /or insensitive to other people’s body language.
  3. Oral language function is often affected. Dyslexics may have trouble finding the right words and may stammer or pause before answering direct questions. This puts him at a disadvantage particularly as he enters adolescence, when language becomes more critical in establishing relationships with peers.
  4. Children with dyslexia are at high risk for intense feelings of sorrow and pain.
  5. Dyslexics sometimes demonstrate greatly exaggerated strengths and weaknesses and perform erratically from day to day. Anxiety is the most frequent emotional symptom reported by dyslexics because of the large gaps in learning strengths and weaknesses that lead to inconsistent performance.

What can you do to help a child who may have dyslexia? It is very important first of all to listen to the child’s feelings. Most emotionally healthy dyslexic children have someone that has been extremely supportive and encouraging early in life. Emotionally healthy dyslexics have found at least one area where they can succeed. Successful dyslexics also appear to have developed a commitment to help others.

Dyslexia can be overcome. The first step is recognizing the condition. The International Dyslexia Association ( has many resources for parents and teachers to explain dyslexia and provide referrals to qualified professionals who can help. You can find more information or have a free consultation from the California Learning Connection to discuss your child’s learning issues, 559-228-9100.

Helping Children Interact with the World

Jan 27, 2012   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Special Needs, Speech  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

What can be done to help a child learn to interact with the world in a positive manner? Children with delayed social interaction skills frequently raise concerns for parents and teachers. Sometimes direct training is needed when good parenting and school support are not enough. At CLC, our goal for each child is to develop understanding and self-control over time so that gradually less structure will be needed from adults.

One successful method to teach self control is the ALERT program. The program teaches children to monitor their own internal body state and practice strategies for self-regulation when they are over or under responsive. Social stories offer another way to develop insight and appropriate responses. These stories are specifically written to teach and practice appropriate behavior and social understanding. Almost any situation can be portrayed in a story as the need arises.

If you have a child with social interaction needs, call for more information.

Ouch! My Brain Hurts!

Dec 22, 2011   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Health, Research, Special Needs  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

Hardly a week goes by when there is not an article in the news about a new learning method promising astonishing results, based on brain science, and supported by anecdotal evidence. It can be very confusing and seductive to read about the improvement that is seen based on a personal story and want that for someone in your life who is dealing with challenges. We naturally want good things for our loved ones.

Concerns about difficulty communicating in a social setting, academic struggles,weakened problem solving skills, or lack of ability to keep up with the flow of life are all reasons to seek answers. For many care providers or parents, the options may seem to end at school, at the doctor’s office or in special treatment programs. Others may find they have too many options to consider if they have been searching online and found ads and articles about the benefits of diet, brain training exercises or supplements. Do you have to be a neuroscientist to determine what the best approach is for your loved one? Where can you get help? There are many excellent options to choose from even though it is often hard to sort them out.

During the time it takes to identify a challenge and determine a program, people may find themselves feeling frustrated, frightened and alone. Often, it my also seem difficult to find someone to understand the challenges a child, adult or their families may face on an emotional and personal level. The main thing to understand is that you are not alone. Services are available for both adults and children who may be experiencing difficulty adapting due to auditory, emotional or brain trauma related to injury or incident. Several well established practices in the Central Valley have trained professionals equipped with traditional and advanced options for clients including the California Learning Connection.

Look for practices that use the most current methods for helping those with needs. Look for professionals with experience, credentials and an approach that includes new methods and science. Without leaving town you can find leading professionals who are developing programs in cognitive learning, neuro-feedback, diet based approaches, vision therapy, communication skills and daily living activities. Look for approaches that are based on real research and evidence based practices that are shown to be helpful. Interview the provider and ask for their personal experience in treating the problem you need help with. Also, ask if there are other methods of treatment that would be helpful. Ask about insurance coverage, if you have it. A professional should be able to refer you to others who may be best suited to help you.

What makes the California Learning Connection unique is its combination of services and therapies. A combined effort of The Center for Communication Skills and Goodfellow Occupational Therapy, the California Learning Connection provides individualized attention and unique treatments. The center is designed to incorporate all styles of learning, to pinpoint the most successful way for the individual to learn, grow and succeed. You are always able to call and ask for a free consultation to discuss your concerns with our specialists. We have a referral bank of professionals outside our office that can help you as well. Do not be discouraged, help is available.

One size does NOT fit All; Especially in Learning!

Nov 22, 2011   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Events, Special Needs  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

Our brains and the ability to learn are the most amazing and highly unique characteristics of being human. We have unbelievable capacities for gathering, retaining and expressing information, emotion and creativity. What’s even more amazing is that each of us has our own pathway in retrieving, receiving and reproducing what we learn. The French say “Viva la différence!” We should embrace learning in this same way.

XS (“X”cellent Systems)

With highly trained experts in the areas of Speech-Language and Occupational Therapy as well as Tutors certified in specialized programs for academic expansion, the California Learning Connection has the ability to meet all of your learning needs. Year round we conduct free consultations to discuss the academic scaffolding for those with learning challenges.

Small (Size nor Age Matter)

No longer is it true that by a “certain” age our window for learning new things is shut tightly, and once it slams – it never opens again. Cutting-edge brain research shows us that with carefully designed programs utilizing the correct combination of individualized intensity, frequency and adaptation new opportunities for generating more learning capacity (translate this to cognitive skills) are possible. The great news is that this is true for any age; yes we are truly capable of being life-long learners.

Medium Matters

The way in which learning takes place is just as important as what is being learned! Our CLC Tutors have been certified and trained in scientific research-based curriculum such as the Barton Reading & Spelling systems for those individuals struggling in these areas. Math-U-See and Cloud 9 Math are perfect avenues for those needing assistance in arithmetic. Handwriting without Tears is a phenomenal system for penmanship. Fast ForWord and academically based games are the perfect pairing for the brain-break we all need as we learn something new. To get the most out of a learning experience it has to be relevant and engaging though excellent curriculum.

Large on Accomplishment

We’ve always been told “Practice Makes Perfect”. However, the right kind of practice is essential for making “the perfect”. When we practice correctly, an activity that may not be our first choice, our successes increase rapidly along with the enjoyment of that activity producing a satisfying accomplishment. It may not be fun initially, but having fun as part of the process and feeling rewarded is very important to the brain when learning new things. Therefore, to develop strengths, look for activities that are enjoyable as well as targeted.

XL (“X”tra Longevity)

We are a community of learners. From the youngest to the vintage of age, our brains and their capacities should be ever-challenged and increased. Medical and academic research both show us that to continue learning something new, keeps our brains functioning at the optimum level of health. How can you select the best fit for your individual learning needs? Sometimes getting help from learning professionals in making the selection is the best strategy, especially when there are specific goals in mind. The California Learning Connection is here to guide and assist individuals in every aspect of learning.

May I have your attention, PLEASE?

Nov 7, 2011   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Health, Research, Special Needs  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

It’s likely that at some time in your life you have thought about Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe you know someone who has this diagnosis and takes medication to manage the symptoms. Possibly you have experienced one or more of the symptoms (distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity) yourself and have wondered if you fit the diagnostic criteria.

Currently in medicine and psychology there is no fail-safe way to diagnose or treat ADHD so each individual becomes a test case, with trial and error as part of the assessment.

In spite of many well-meaning theories, we now know that ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar (though these factors may make symptoms worse for some people). We also know that most people with ADHD do not generally have a history of head injury. In many cases there may be multiple family members who exhibit ADHD, therefore genetic and biological factors come into play.

The common first line of treatment is prescription medication designed to increase the brain’s ability to attend. While medication is helpful and sometimes necessary, it is not a quick fix to the problems experienced by those with ADHD. The optimum effect of many ADHD drugs lasts for about 11 months and gradually is reduced over time. Additionally there are side effects that need to be factored in the cost/benefit analysis.

It often takes a creative approach to manage symptoms and encourage development of skills that will counterbalance the ADHD symptoms. A more holistic approach to addressing ADHD would include:using medication possibly on a short-term basis, participating in cognitive training programs to improve attention, employing neuro-feedback training, teaching cognitive strategies for self-management, providing avenues to “use up” excess energy with exercise breaks, modifying the learning or work environment to allow standing and moving, or managing time in a more flexible manner. Different approaches and modifications work for children and adults depending on the severity of symptoms, the work environment, the family life-style and the other individual strengths and weaknesses.

At the California Learning Connection we understand that there are “different strokes for different folks” and work with you to determine the best combination to help with daily life. Our occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and certified tutors can provide you with guidance and help to continue down the road to personal growth and self-control.

Comprehensive Treatment Offers Hope for Autism

Nov 2, 2011   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Research, Special Needs, Speech  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

Autism is a neurologically based condition that affects many areas of development including speech, language, social interaction, behavior and motor skills. Parents of children with autism are often bewildered about the best choice for treatment and are uncertain of how to ensure their child receives appropriate services.

Though very little data exists on early treatment in Autism there are encouraging recent studies that demonstrate early treatment has a positive effect on the development of the child with autism. Recent studies also show that appropriate comprehensive intervention for children as young as 18 months of age can improve symptoms and reduce the severity of the disorder. While speech communication skills are often the most obvious symptom that causes concern for parents; motor skills, sensory processing, and social responsiveness are also affected and provide additional challenges as children begin to interact with the environment during the first year of life.

Little is known about the types of intervention that are most effective because studies have not focused on comparing treatment outcomes of the different types of therapy. Treatment ranges from the most structured discreet trial methods to more open-ended, child-centered methods. A critical component appears to be parent responsiveness training so that skills learned can be used in natural environments such as home and play. Children with autism benefit from multiple approaches to encourage normal development.

The California Learning Connection (CLC) provides an environment where the integration of approaches creates positive outcomes for children with autism and their families. The occupational therapists, speech/language therapists and play therapists at CLC design programs that are intensive and effective in providing a variety of appropriate interventions. Additionally, CLC therapists work cooperatively with other agencies and providers to build successful programs that increase social engagement, communication and sensory motor skills in children with autism. Most importantly, parents are given support and training in extending the benefits of therapy throughout a child’s day and across environments.

To learn more about the services at the California Learning Connection call for a free consultation (559) 228-9100 or visit

Our daughter, Emma (age 5) has made tremendous progress in the past three years and as a result no longer requires the same level of services. In fact, she was receiving  over forty hours a week of combined services and now merely requires speech a few hours a week. We attribute her progress to the comprehensive and intensive early intervention she received while at the California Learning Connection. We believe early intervention has profound effects for children with autism and Emma is proof of the same.

-Testimonial from Bethany Berube

The Importance of Play

Oct 22, 2011   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Health, Special Needs  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

As children we all enjoyed play. Through play essential communication skills, social skills, emotional skills, problem solving abilities, and interpersonal skills all begin to develop. Many children will learn these skills and behaviors from adults, which is why it is important that parents begin playing with their child at an early age. Unfortunately, children with special needs sometimes have limited opportunity for play because of behavioral or medical issues.

This is concerning given the importance of play in the development of children. At the California Learning Connection, we provide services that can assist you and your child. We provide effective interventions that allow your child to get ahead, while doing what they love…play! Your children may benefit greatly from one of our many Speech and Language Services, Occupational Therapy, and/or our Academic Enrichment Programs.

Center For Communication Skills, Speech & Language Pathologists, Fresno, CA