Adolescents: Web-based Resources

21st Century Skills

Alliance for Excellent Education

Alliance for Excellence in Education

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Center on Instruction

Classroom Modeling with Anita Archer

Dylan Wiliam and Formative Assessment

The Education Alliance at Brown University

The Education Trust

Marzano’s Instructional Strategies

International Reading Association

International Reading Association’s Position Statement on Adolescent Literacy



Learning First Alliance

Literacy Matters

National Center on RTI

National Staff Development Center

NCTE Adolescent Literacy\

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

PA Standards Aligned System

Reading Next

RTI Action Network

Scholastic Adolescent Literacy Resource Center

SEDL: Building Reading Proficiency at the Secondary Level

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory


Challenging Behavior

Behavior and Lagging Skills

All kids with ADHD have some executive dysfunction, but not everyone with an executive-function deficit has ADHD (Russell Barkley, “ADHD: Executive Funtioning, Life Course Outcomes & Management”). However, almost every student with an executive-function deficit will exhibit some oppositional or defiant behaviors (Barkley).

When you think about it, it’s totally normal: humans are highly adaptive, and we’re going to try lots of ways to avoid doing things that are hard and frustrating. Ross Greene (Lost at School) describes this as:

“. . . demands being placed on a kid exceed his capacity to respond adaptively. Of course, that’s when all of us exhibit maladaptive behavior. The problem for kids with behavioral challenges (and those around them) is that they’re responding much more maladaptively than the rest of us, and much more often. You see, there’s a spectrum of things kids do when life’s demands exceed their capacity to respond adaptively. Some cry, or sulk, or pout, or whine, or withdraw—that would be the milder end of the spectrum. As we move toward the more difficult end of the spectrum, we find screaming, swearing, spitting, hitting, kicking, destroying property, lying, and truancy.”

  “Challenging” Behavior  (from Greene, Ross W. Lost at School. Scribner, 2008.)

    • Difficulty handling transitions, shifting from one mind-set or task to another (shifting cognitive set)
    • Difficulty mustering the energy to persist on tasks that are challenging, effortful, or tedious
    • Difficulty doing things in a logical sequence or prescribed order
    • Poor sense of time
    • Difficulty reflecting on multiple thoughts or ideas simultaneously
    • Difficulty maintaining focus for goal-directed problem-solving
    • Difficulty considering the likely outcomes or consequences of actions (impulsive)
    • Difficulty considering a range of solutions to a problem Difficulty expressing concerns, needs, or thoughts in words
    • Difficulty understanding what is being said
    • Difficulty managing emotional response to frustration so as to think rationally (separation of affect)
    • Chronic irritability and/or anxiety significantly impede capacity for problem-solving
    • Difficulty seeing the “grays”/concrete, literal, black-and-white thinking Difficulty deviating from rules, routine, original plan
  • Difficulty handling unpredictability, ambiguity, uncertainty, novelty
  • Difficulty shifting from original idea or solution/difficulty adapting to changes in plan or new rules/possibly perseverative or obsessive
  • Difficulty taking into account situational factors that would require adjusting one’s plan of action
  • Inflexible, inaccurate interpretations/cognitive distortions or biases (e.g., “Everyone’s out to get me,” “Nobody likes me,” “You always blame me,” “It’s not fair,” “I’m stupid,” “Things will never work out for me”)
  • Difficulty attending to and/or accurately interpreting social cues/poor perception of social nuances Difficulty starting a conversation, entering groups, connecting with people/lacking other basic social skills
  • Difficulty seeking attention in appropriate ways
  • Difficulty appreciating how one’s behavior is affecting other people; often surprised by others’ responses to his/her behavior
  • Difficulty empathizing with others, appreciating another person’s perspective or point of view
  • Difficulty appreciating how one is coming across or being perceived by others

Kids do Well if They Can

“If you know what thinking skills a kid is lacking, you’ll be in a much better position to teach those skills. You’ll also be in a better position to anticipate the situations in which challenging behavior is most likely to occur. If you don’t know what skills a kid is lacking, they probably won’t get taught, it will be much harder to anticipate his worst moments, the kid’s challenges will linger (or get worse), and he will become increasingly frustrated, hopeless, and alienated, just as most of us would if we had a problem no one seemed able to understand and were being treated in a way that made the problem worse.” (Ross Greene, Lost at School)

Treated in a way that made the problem worse? Here Greene is referring to the common adult mis-perception that kids will do well “if they want to.” An assumption made by most teachers, parents and administrators at one time or another. In other words, he is not doing well because he “doesn’t want to.”

This common assumption (usually wrong) causes adults to believe that their strategy needs to be to make the kid want to do well. We then try to motivate him, give him incentives to do well, reward for good behavior and punish bad behavior.

By contrast, the “kids do well if they can” approach assumes our student knows right from wrong, is already motivated, and has had enough punishment. Instead he/she is lacking “thinking” or executive function skills, and our job becomes figuring out what skills he is lacking and teaching those skills.

Now go back up to the list of “challenging behaviors.” Those are the lagging skills we need to teach.

Comorbidity & ADHD

Comorbidity & ADHD

ADHD and Dyslexia

ADHD and dyslexia are distinct conditions that frequently overlap, thereby causing some confusion about the nature of these two conditions. AD/HD is one of the most common developmental problems, affecting 3–5% of the school population. It is characterized by inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It is estimated that 30% of those with dyslexia have coexisting AD/HD.

Coexisting means the two conditions, AD/HD and dyslexia,can occur together, but they do not cause each other. 

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, spelling,and reading decoding. People with dyslexia have problems discriminating sounds within a word or phonemes, a key factor in their reading and spelling difficulties. (See IDA fact sheets “Definition of Dyslexia” and “Dyslexia Basics.”)

How are ADHD and Dyslexia diagnosed?

ADHD and dyslexia are diagnosed differently. An evaluation for AD/HD is carried out by a physician or a psychologist. This evaluation should include the following:

1. complete medical and family history

2. physical examination

3. interviews with parents and child

4. behavior rating scales completed by parents and teachers

5. observation of the child

6. psychological tests to measure intellectual potential, social and emotional adjustment, as well as to assess for the presence of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

 Although AD/HD has been given numerous names since it was first identified in 1902, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition.  These subtypes are:

1. ADHD predominantly inattentive type is characterized by distractibility and difficulty sustaining mental effort and attention.

2. ADHD predominantly hyperactive impulsive type is characterized by fidgeting with hands and feet, squirming in one’s chair, acting as if driven by a motor, interrupting and intruding upon others.

3. ADHD combined type meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.

4. Dyslexia is diagnosed through a psychoeducational evaluation. (See IDA fact sheet: “Testing and Evaluation.”)

Is ADHD over-diagnosed?

The American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that ADHD is not overdiagnosed; however, increased awareness has resulted in an increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with ADHD. Girls and gifted children are actually underdiagnosed or may be diagnosed late. Girls often have ADHD predominantly inattentive type where the essential feature is inattention. This subtype of ADHD can easily be overlooked because the more obvious characteristics of hyperactivity and impulsivity are not present. Gifted children may be identified late because their strong intellectual abilities help them to compensate for these weaknesses in attention.

Can you inherit ADHD and Dyslexia?

Both ADHD and dyslexia run in families. Genetics play a role in about half of the children diagnosed with AD/HD. For the other half, research has yet to identify a cause. Regarding dyslexia, about one third of the children born to a dyslexic parent will also likely be dyslexic.

What do ADHD and Dyslexia have in common?

Dyslexic children and children with ADHD have some similar characteristics. Dyslexic children, like children with ADHD, may have difficulty paying attention because reading is so demanding that it causes them to fatigue easily, limiting the ability to sustain concentration. People with dyslexia and those with ADHD both have difficulty with reading. The dyslexic person’s reading is typically dysfluent, with major problems with accuracy, misreading both large and small words. The person with ADHD may also be a dysfluent reader, but his or her reading is not characterized by misreading words. The AD/HD reader may skip over punctuation, leave off endings, and lose his or her place. The dysfluency of both the ADHD person and the dyslexic reader may negatively impact comprehension. Both may avoid reading and derive little pleasure from it. Both the person with dyslexia and the person with ADHD typically have trouble with writing. The typical dyslexic writer has significant problems with spelling, grammar, proofreading, and organization. The ADHD writer often has difficulty with organization and proofreading. Both the dyslexic writer and the ADHD writer may have handwriting difficulties.

 Individuals with dyslexia and AD/HD may be underachieving in school even though they are often bright and motivated. The goal for them, as it is for all children, is to meet their potential. It is critical that children with these disorders be carefully evaluated because treatment for one disorder is different from the other. Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to inappropriate intervention and a delay in timely, effective intervention.

ADHD Brains

The scientific community has been attempting to define the exact changes in the human brain that lead to ADHD and dyslexia. There have been pathologic studies of a few brains from people with dyslexia after they died. While some changes in the brain have been found between the brains of people with dyslexia and people who do not have dyslexia, no consistent pattern has emerged that allows the exact “dyslexic center” to be determined. More promising techniques have been developed, which can be performed in living persons. These include imaging studies, as well as physiologic studies. Once again, interesting leads have been found, but none has given us a definitive answer regarding the underlying mechanisms of these disorders. It should also be mentioned that these tests are research tools. There are currently no biologic tests routinely available that allow an objective diagnosis of dyslexia or ADHD.

What is the outlook for children with Dyslexia and ADHD?

If dyslexia and ADHD are identified and treated early, children with these disorders are more likely to learn to overcome their difficulties while maintaining a positive self-image. Even though children with dyslexia do not outgrow their disability, they can learn to adapt and improve their weak skills. With proper remediation and needed accommodations, students with dyslexia can go on to be very successful students in colleges and universities, as well as in professional and adult life. After puberty, about 40–50% of children with ADHD will improve and develop enough coping skills so that their symptoms no longer have a negative impact on their quality of life; however, the other 50–60% will continue to exhibit symptoms of ADHD through adolescence and adulthood that will negatively affect their lives. It is important to remember that many students with ADHD with appropriate support and accommodations can be very successful with higher level academic work and in their professional lives. It is never too late to diagnose these disorders. It is not uncommon for a gifted person in college or graduate school to be diagnosed with dyslexia or ADHD. Such individuals can learn to develop their personal strengths and become not only successful students, but happy and productive adults, as well.

Resources for ADHD

ADHD Basics: ADHD: The Basics (National Institute of Mental Health) New ADHD Guidelines: 5 Things You and Your Child's Doctor Need to Know New ADHD Guidelines: American Academy of Pediatrics  ADHD-related Issues (National Center for Learning Disabilities) Everything...

Challenging Behavior

Behavior and Lagging Skills All kids with ADHD have some executive dysfunction, but not everyone with an executive-function deficit has ADHD (Russell Barkley, "ADHD: Executive Funtioning, Life Course Outcomes & Management"). However, almost every student with an...

EF Skills by Age

Developmental Tasks Requiring Executive Function Skills Children and teenagers are required to perform all kinds of skills that require executive skills. The list below describes tasks or behaviors that adults commonly expect children to be able to do in different age...




While most of our clinical practice is Direct Instruction and Remediation, we are experts in the interpretation of psycho-educational evaluations.  We can do some educational testing, screening and benchmarking for language-based problems as well as design intervention programs based on testing results.  Some of the services we offer include:

  • Review the Assessment/Evaluation you already have.  Many of our clients already have a full PsychoEducational Evaluation, and have been referred to us for Intervention.  Others may have one from another City or State.  We can review and analyze your Evaluation, help you understand what it means, and make recommendations for Intervention based on your testing.
  • Help you determine if you need an eval.  We can make recommendations for additional testing if we think you need it.  Or we can do some testing ourselves depending on our availability and what you need or refer you to a competent provider.  Read more . . . What is an Evaluation, and Do I Need One?
  • Review other testing (like Normative tests given at school, or Benchmarking results) and recommend best-practices for intervention.
  • Review your IEP or 504 Plan and recommend best-practices for accomodations and school services.
  • For our existing clients:  answer questions about school placement (or refer you to an appropriate service), summer programs, and other support services.
  • Diagnose Dyslexia