After the Diagnosis: The Next Steps

After the Diagnosis: The Next Steps

After the Diagnosis:  Next Steps

If your child was just diagnosed with a learning disability or a special need of any kind, there can be a myriad of feelings, to deal with such as shock, concern, fear, relief, confirmations, anger or sadness, to feeling overwhelmed with further questions-the biggest of which is, “Now what?”…

After receiving a diagnosis, following these next steps can be helpful for you and your child.

Learn all you can about your child’s diagnosis, while recognizing that your child is more than the particular diagnosis or label.

Nobody loves your child more than you or wants to see him succeed and meet his full potential more than you.  By learning about your child’s diagnosis and different abilities, you can grow in understanding how to better support him, as you continue to be your child’s fiercest advocate and loudest cheerleader.

Investigate treatment options, such as therapies, interventions, and possible medications.

A great place to start is your child’s pediatrician or the diagnosing professional.  You may also want to consider seeking holistic treatments by working with an integrative physician.  There are more and more types of therapies available for various disabilities and special needs.  Many therapy treatment options exist–from art and music therapy, pet and equine therapy, to behavioral and cognitive therapy, in addition to more “traditional” or standard speech/language, vision, physical and occupational therapies.

Seek support for your child and the family.

You can find parent and children support groups, such as Decoding Dyslexia and Eye to Eye Mentoring, as well as national charitable organizations, such as Scottish Rites, Easter Seals and the ARC that offer parent and family resources, supports, directories, grants/scholarships, etc.  Also, non-profit organizations such as Joni and Friends, provide resources, a directory for disability ministries across the country, and family camps.

Talk with your child about his diagnosis and teach him to self-advocate.

Your child needs to understand that his diagnosis does not define him. There are many bright and successful people with disabilities.  In fact, it is estimated that 1:5 people have a learning disability.  Help your child come to understand what his difficulty or disability is and how it may impact him, but also teach him ways to work around it.  Also, help your child recognize the ways he is smart and what are his areas of strength.  The book, 8 Great Smarts, by Dr. Kathy Koch is a great resource.  Self-advocacy is an important, empowering life-skill.  Resources such as The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss, Yale Center for Creativity and Dyslexia, LDAdvisory, and are a few examples of places to find resources to educate your child and teach him how to advocate for himself.

Make a plan for reasonable accommodations for the student and discuss these with your student and other adults/teachers, such as those in your community of faith, coaches, music teachers, and co-op leaders/teachers.

Accommodations level the playing field and help students to take in information or show forth what they know.  Some common accommodations are extra time, use of audio books, dictation or oral assessment, or frequent breaks, to name a few.  It is a good idea to keep a written record of the educational accommodations you will be providing to your student, in your home school file.

Be encouraged that you are your child’s best teacher, and home education is an excellent individualized educational plan.

While home education, due to its very nature, is an individualized educational plan, for homeschooled students with special needs, drafting a written, student education plan can be wise.  True North Homeschool Academy Special Needs Advising and HSLDA’s Special Needs Educational Consultants,, can help families with this and provide templates for how to do so.  Additionally, their special needs consultants can help make sense of the diagnostic assessment reports and help you the parent-teacher come up with a customized educational plan.  Lining up classes, such as those offered through True North Academy, can be a great way to customize your child’s specialized home education.

Helpful Links:

  • Kathy Koch, Celebrate Kids,
  • Yale Center for Creativity and Dyslexia,
  • 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential, by Zan Tyler,
  • “Parent Pep Talk:Dealing with Your Child’s Diagnosis”,

Faith’s own learning struggles and diagnosis of dyscalculia compelled her compassion for other bright but struggling students. A fifteen year teaching career before she became a homeschool mom included both public and private schools, tutoring, and working as a reading specialist. Her specific area of expertise is the identification and remediation of reading difficulties.

As an extroverted-introvert who is a lifelong learner and an avid reader, her 2008 transition to homeschooling her own two children was a natural one. Faith currently applies her passionate advocacy for special needs students as she speaks at homeschooling conferences across the nation and internationally. She also serves as a Special Needs Consultant for Home School Legal Defense Association in addition to having her own in-home, private practice as an educational diagnostician.

Faith holds the following credentials

  • B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from West Virginia University
  • M.Ed. in Reading from Shenandoah University
  • certification as a trained dyslexia intervention specialist through the National Institute of Learning Differences (NILD)
  • certification in Equipping Minds Cognitive Curriculum

Faith’s articles have been published in several national homeschooling magazines, and she has been the guest of several homeschooling podcasts.

Are you a special needs homeschool mom with a brand new diagnosis?  Let me guess, you feel an acute sense of heartbreak, grief, and so overwhelmed that you feel like you are drowning?  We've been there.  Now is the time to take a step back, examine your options, and form a plan.  Check out the steps we think are necessary after the diagnosis.  #homeschool #specialneedshomeschool #specialneedsmom #TNHA

Executive Functioning & Why it Matters in Your Homeschool

Executive Functioning & Why it Matters in Your Homeschool

Executive Functioning a big “buzzword” in education right now.  If you have a child diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Autism, Aspergers or a Learning Disability, you have probably come across the term Executive Functioning.  

So, how does Executive Functioning affect your child? Have you seen any of the following?
  • Easily frustrated – fights or quits tasks easily, melts down easily.
  • Anxious – worries about things out of their control, or about making mistakes excessively.
  • Worried or bothered by seemingly “little” things –  could by physical things or academic things.
  • Frustrated by sitting still – constantly on the move, needs to have hands/body moving
  • Following directions is arduous labor – can follow one direction at a time (well, maybe sometimes?), may have difficulty with more than one direction at a time.
  • Difficulty completing tasks – may start things and not finish, or gets frustrated and stops rather than ask for help.
  • Struggles with getting started in tasks – even seemingly simple assignments (or larger ones) are difficult to get started because they don’t know where to begin
  • Strains to keep track of the processes of math and reading – forgets to go back to the passage to help find answers or reread, loses their place in a multi-step math problem or with long division/multiplication type processes.
  • Easily bothered or distracted by light levels (high or low) or noise (too loud or too quiet) – textures, sounds, lights, cold, heat, blue skies, gray skies, dogs barking, someone says something unexpected – these and more distract and bother our kids at times.
  • Flexibility is an issue; may struggle greatly with being able to “switch gears” when life demands it.
  • Planning and prioritizing are difficult or impossible to the chagrin and frustration of the person.
  • Working memory can be faulty and frustrating.
  • Response inhibition (ability to control one’s own emotions) is a struggle or lost battle.

What is Executive Functioning?

The official definition from LDONLINE (LD Online) is: “The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.” This means that a lot of the above behaviors that are sometimes considered “careless” and “willful” can be traced back to issues with Executive Functioning.

In the course description for True North Homeschool Academy’s Creating Priorities Class for Executive Functioning, I describe it as it looks at my house… Perhaps your child struggles with executive functioning skills, as mine does. When it is time to do his schoolwork, my son loses his pencil, loses his worksheet, will solve the problem with blocks but forget to write the answer, disappears, jumps up and runs around the house, find a million other things to do, and then will finally sit down, solve two questions, and then he’s off again…. My son, like many others, struggles with executive functioning skills.  He doesn’t MEAN to be unorganized and distracted, but his brain just can’t help it. Like many people with a diagnosis, he also struggles with time management, self-control, memory and other cognitive issues; common for those whose brains are developing differently. As a family, we are working on many things to help him learn how to better manage his time and his work.

What can be done to enhance and teach Executive Functioning Skills?

You can focus on specific skills that may be lacking.  For example –

  • How to study – how to make outlines, study key terms, pay special attention to charts, summaries and footnotes, go over review questions
  • Using a checklist – provide younger children with a checklist of tasks (you might have to begin with 1 at a time and slowly increase), have them check off tasks as they complete them.  You can even work in breaks or “rewards” as tasks are completed.
  • Using a planner – older students can utilize a planner with assignments for the day or week to be completed.  To gain independence, allow students to complete the assignments in their own order. If needed, specify which tasks can be done on any day, and which must be done on specific days (if your child needs repetition in math, set the expectation that one math assignment must be completed each day instead of doing them all on a single day).
  • Using graphic organizers for writing, or reading – graphic organizers are great tools for analyzing fiction and nonfiction literature, and for brainstorming and organizing writing assignments.
  • Using anchor charts or a math notebook to show the steps needed to solve math problems – Math notebooks (classrooms usually also use anchor charts) are great tools to help students remember how to solve specific types of questions, and to follow step-by-step directions on more complicated math (like long division or multiplication)
  • Create vocabulary or sight word flashcards – index cards create great flashcards to review sight words, vocabulary for any subject or to create your own math fact flashcards.
  • Give choices (make sure all choices presented are acceptable to you) – A child who is easily frustrated or tends to “battle” you about schoolwork is sometimes feeling out of control of the situation.  So they work to regain control by fighting against what they see is the source of the problem (you). When you provide choices, it helps them feel back in control. The catch is, you only present choices that are acceptable to you. If it is not acceptable, it is not a choice.  If there is still an argument, write the choices down or draw pictures. You can’t argue with something that is written. If they continue to try to argue with you, you just point. Eventually, they will make a decision from the choices provided. (It might take a little while the first time, but it gets easier as you continue).

Where can you go for help?

There are a lot of resources out there to get help.  Here are a few suggestions of things to consider:

Breakthrough Special Needs Program

Breakthrough Special Needs Program

Breakthrough Special Needs/ Struggling Learners Program

Struggling Learners Special Needs

Brought to you by…

True North Academy 
The Thinking and Learning Center 
SPED Homeschool

Special Needs/ Struggling Learners require unique attention and assistance. At True North Academy, we are excited to be partnering with The Thinking and Learning Center and SPED Homeschool to help support all of our students!

Reading & Phonics through Spelling

Reading & Phonics through Spelling takes five essential components of reading

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading comprehension

and systematically teaches students  using a discovery and sound-based approach to phonics instruction.

Each week students will discover spelling patterns for different sounds.

Homework is completed weekly using A Reason For Spelling workbooks; utilizing proven methods for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

  • Level 1 is offered for students using A Reason For Spelling Level Cand Level D
  • Level 2 is offered for students using A Reason For Spelling Level Eand Level F

To determine what level your child is performing at please utilize the placement tests for A Reason For Spelling :

Math Games

  • Build and strengthen number sense
  • Build math fluency
  • Build math vocabulary
  • Build problem-solving strategies.

Who Will Benefit from Math Games?

  • Students who need to master basic number sense
  • Students who do not remember the steps or in problem-solving
  • Students who need to build their procedural understandings of math
  • Students who have trouble with math facts

Math Games Level 1 – Basic Operations – offers addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and how to learn math facts fast.

Math Games Level 2 – Math involving fractions, decimals, percent, and review of multiplication facts.

The Thinking and Learning Center

This process highlights how cognitive processes are used, under-utilized or chaotically-processed.

Struggling Learners Classes are taught by Moms you can trust with professional training!
Kelley Godwin and Amy Vickrey.  

You might also be interested in American Sign Language. Check out ourCourse Catalog for other phenomenal courses offered through True North Homeschool Academy. 

SPED Homeschool

For more information on Struggling Learners, and about what you can do at home, check out SPED Homeschool.

Need help with writing an IEP or 504 Plan for your child? Check out these articles below!

4 Things to Prepare Before Writing your Child’s IEP
How to Write IEP Goals and Objectives
Writing an IEP: Accommodations and Modifications
How to Track IEP Goals
DIY Occupational Therapy Tips

American Sign Language

Blended Leanring, It Just Makes Sense!

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