Language-Expanding Exercise for my Hyperlexic Boy

We have been busily preparing for our new school year, and I have not had much time for blog posts, but I want to post something that may help others of you that have hyperlexic (or even not reading yet if you just do this exercise out loud) children that need to expand their language.

You can’t really say that P is non-verbal.  He can definitely talk.  If he thinks you may have a cookie hidden somewhere, he will break out in one of his most common lines: “[Mom], Can I have a ____ (fill in sugary snack here), please.”  That is not a problem.  He can also read anything you put in front of him (although you may not understand well because of his articulation issues and he may not understand the meaning of all the words).  What I am trying to help him do, is to EXPAND his communication.

Lindamood-Bell uses the Talkies program for just this purpose, but he is really still at the very beginning levels because of some receptive language issues, so we needed something to help him understand how to describe what he sees (concrete and then later images brought to mind).  They use a modified version of the “structure words” in Visualizing and Verbalizing.

In V/V, the structure words are: What, Size, Color, Number, Shape, Where, Movement, Mood, Background, Perspective, When, and Sound.  Talkies simplifies it to: What, Color, Number, Shape, Size, Where, Movement.  I also have cards that I got here, that give a visual cue when needed. We use the nice, simple pictures in the “Picture to Picture Book,” to describe images, but I have also been using videos that P loves and making questions that get at those same ideas in the Talkies structure words.  We have a subscription to Amazon Prime and we use videos that are free with Prime, but you could use whatever videos you have.

Here is an example of one that we used this week:

Super Why: The Gingerbread Boy
Minute 0:00 through 2:05

0:08 What is the boy’s name?
The boy’s name is _____________________.
0:10 What size is the boy?
The boy is _____________________.
1:00 How many Super Readers are there?
  There are _______________________Super Readers.
1:10 What are the Super Readers doing?
They are _________________________.
1:41 Where are the children?
The children are at the ___________________________.
 
1:54 What color is the question mark?
The question mark is ____________________________.
 
2:05 What is the weather in Storybook Village?
The weather is ____________________________________.

We read the questions together and he fills in the answer.  If he is unsure what a question is asking, we looks at our structure word cards for a clue.  We started this last year, about mid-year and he had a tough time with most of the questions and needed lots of help.  Now he almost never needs help and I have seen him watching the video more closely, instead of passively.  He is excited to fill in the correct answers and I have made them just a little more difficult, but he has kept up.  I usually make one sheet of questions for each day of the week (from just one episode per week), so that one episode will have about 30 questions.

I have been so excited about this exercise and wanted to share it because it uses something he is interested in, helps him observe and describe (rather than using language for requesting all the time), increases his attention, and models proper questions and sentence structure.  I am hoping to soon be able to leave more blanks for him to form the sentence more independently.

If you would like to see the whole week’s questions, I am including it here: Super why gingerbread boy season 3 episode 5.
Feel free to try it yourself or modify it for your own lessons.  Sorry for any typos!  These are usually done at 11 or 12 at night!

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Lindamood Bell Programs General Overview: Using Gander Publishing Resources at Home

Since I had a very hard time trying to figure out if I could do the Lindamood-Bell programs at home when I was searching on the internet, I am posting this here in hopes that it will benefit someone else.  There is no way that I could explain every step of each program, so you will need to get the manual (some libraries even have them), but I hope to give you an overview so that you can get an idea of what the programs are all about and see if you would like to try them at home.

I think I started hearing about LMB programs in about 2007/2008.  I was so excited to hear that this “Reading Clinic” addressed hyperlexia as well as dyslexia.   You can read about hyperlexia in a former post, but basically it is decoding skills (sounding out the words) that are far above comprehension skills, accompanied by a fascination with letters and words.  It is said to be the “neurological opposite” of dyslexia.

Lindamood-Bell has four main reading programs.  The ones used most frequently are:

  • Seeing Stars®:
    The Seeing Stars® program develops symbol imagery—the ability to visualize sounds and letters in words—as a basis for orthographic awareness, phonemic awareness, word attack, word recognition, spelling, and contextual reading fluency.*
    This would be for dyslexia/decoding problems.
    I will summarize all the Seeing Stars steps in my next post, so stay tuned!
  • Visualizing and Verbalizing®:
    The Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) program develops concept imagery—the ability to create an imaged gestalt from language—as a basis for comprehension and higher order thinking. The development of concept imagery improves reading and listening comprehension, memory, oral vocabulary, critical thinking, and writing.*
    This would be for hyperlexia/comprehending problems.
    I summarized the steps and have videos here.

The other two programs, used less often, are:

  • LiPs®:
    The LiPS® Program develops phoneme awareness. Students learn to recognize how their mouths produce the sounds of language. This kinesthetic feedback enables them to verify sounds within words and to become self-correcting in reading, spelling, and speech.*
    Parts of the LiPs® program are sometimes incorporated into the Seeing Stars® students if they need it.
    (You can see the steps for LiPs in this link in a paper written from the person that developed this program.
  • Talkies®
    The Talkies® program is the primer to the Visualizing and Verbalizing® program for students who need simpler, smaller steps of instruction to establish the imagery-language connection. The goal of Talkies® instruction is to develop mental imagery as a base for language comprehension and expression. Talkies® instruction may benefit students with prior third-party diagnoses of expressive language delays or autism spectrum disorders.*
    Parts of the Talkies® program are sometimes also used in the V/V® program for students with less language that can read.
  • There is also a math program called “On Cloud Nine®”

*Descriptions of the programs are from the publisher’s website (ganderpublishing.com).  My own comments about the program are in italics.

Nanci Bell has made some great presentations at the UC Davis MIND Institute’s Summer Institute
(MIND = Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/

Here is a video of Nanci Bell discussing V/V® and Talkies® for hyperlexia.

The more I heard about it, the more I knew that Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V)® would be great for my older son, D, but when I discovered that instruction in the center cost over $100/hour, I knew that would never be possible for us, especially since the program is usually very intense.  Four hours a day, five days a week is not uncommon. (Twenty hours X $100 = $2000/week!!!!)  I should say that there are discounts for more hours, etc., but for us it would still always be out of reach for us.

Eventually, I was able to be trained in Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing myself, so that I could teach it to my kids.  For those of us who live in the real world and cannot afford $2,000/week for tutoring, I would highly recommend that you do it yourself.  It can be integrated into your homeschool curriculum or be done after school or over the summer.  The materials can be purchased at ganderpublishing.com and the manual goes through the program step-by-step.  If you want to be even more prepared, you can attend one of their workshops.  In the training, for the most part, they wanted  you to stick closely to the “script.” ( You say, “X” and then the students responds and you say “Y” if it was correct and “Z” if it was not.)  There are even many sample dialogs in the manuals.

Here are some general LMB-ism that apply to all the programs:

  • There is big time bribing (eh… make that “rewarding”) going on constantly.
    I am not saying that is necessarily such a bad thing.  Most of these kids are doing the program because they have had major problems in the area that they are working on (decoding, comprehension) and this is the last thing they want to do when they are finally out of school.
    – Filling your bucket with magic stones (see below) gets you five stars on your “star card.”  If it is filled, that card can be used as “currency” to get prizes (small prizes , like trinkets from Oriental Trading).
    – Something really great (maybe getting something correct that they usually struggle with) gets you another type of card.  With that card the students gets up and drops it into a box and rings a bell.  Every time that bell rings, everyone stops for a second and cheers.  There is a weekly drawing with these cards and someone will win a prize.
    -Some kids have additional rewards worked out with in conjunction with their parents.  “If you get through X number of pages or if you don’t do X (insert problematic behavior), you get that toy you’ve been wanting, etc.
  • Every response (right or wrong) from the student earns a “magic stone” that is dropped into a small metal bucket and makes an nice affirming “clinking” sound each time.
  • A big part of the program is how you handle errors.
    Every response gets positive feedback before a correction.  (The student may say, “LIT” for the word “LIFT” and the clinician would say, ” I love how you got that /l/ sound, and that vowel sound was perfect.  When you say the word, ‘LIT,’ what do you picture before the T?”
    The student may say, “I,” and the clinician could answer, “I picture the letter ‘I’ in the word “LIT” too.  Let’s check if that’s right.”  We look at the card together and the student corrects it, get more praise, and several magic stones in their bucket.
  • The clinician constantly prompts for imagery.  (What do you SEE when you picture the word?  What do you PICTURE for the sentence you read?  How do you PICTURE the man in the story?  What do you SEE for his shirt?  Do you PICTURE him with shoes on?)  You are trying to get them to make an image in their head whether it be in decoding or comprehending.
    You show them something (a letter, a word, a part of a paragraph), they read it and then you cover it up, so that their brain has to make the picture in their head.
  • You want to make the child feel successful.  When they feel like they can do it and that you believe in their ability, they feel more confident and are more willing to try harder.  Plus, they can do it!  Every human being has great potential.
  • You “set the climate” at every session.  (For example: “Today we are going to picture letters in your head”) and they use simple drawings to help.  (Draw a head with at thought bubble that has a letter in it.)

These are the general things that apply to all of the LMB programs.  I will go into greater detail about the specific programs in future posts.