In This Issue
  • A Word from the President
  • Announcing: Rick Lavoie is Coming to Indiana  
  • "The Impact of Learning Disabilities on Social Skills" by A. Hussey, T. Bosse, L. Stevens, K. Wuebker, O. Miller, and L. Draper
  • Award Winners

A Word from the President  

Happy Spring! I think that it has finally arrived in Indiana and I am safe to send this greeting!
Spring is always a time of renewal and of looking forward with optimism and hope. Many of you parents are sitting in case conferences, assessing the past year and planning for the next; it can be overwhelming, full of stress. And, alongside, you teachers and clinicians are working with these parents, helping to set goals and objectives that fit the individual student and fit the resources you find within your grasp. It is that last part, about resources, that I would like to bring to the forefront.
Over the past thirty-plus years, I have sat in more than my fair share of meetings where Individualized education programs (IEPs) are being created and modified. There are many people seated around this IEP table: student, parent, regular education teacher, special education teacher, resource room teacher, advocate, educational consultant, diagnostician, transition specialist, therapist, and head of school. I have sat in many of those spots, and it has become quite evident to me, that each person comes to the table with their own unique perspective along with their own set of priorities. The factor that seems to be emerge as the limiting factor, so to speak, is the availability of resources. These school resources include not only direct services, such as speech and language (SLP) and occupational (OT) therapies, but also materials and time.
The shrinking availability of therapies for special education is nothing new. School corporations continue to have a hard time finding personnel and then the funds to increase the therapy hours for students. Many parents find themselves wanting to use personal health insurance. But, in reality, if the team identifies a need for a therapy, it is the school's obligation to meet that need, not the parent's pocketbook.
Another resource area that needs to be examined is the materials used to work towards the student's IEP goals. Sometimes, the materials used by the school are well chosen, taking into account a student's strengths and weaknesses. Other times, it is the only program the school has on its shelves and, therefore, is the program that will be used regardless if it "fits" the student. The school often doesn't allot the money needed to buy materials that may be better suited to the student's strengths and weaknesses, his/her educational needs.
At the case conference, there may seem to be no initiative to find/develop anything else. Here, the limiting factors may be time and money. It takes time and energy to continue to build teacher's strategies, providing them with the necessary knowledge base. Teachers need to attend conferences like LDA's to expand and reinforce their theoretical and practical classroom knowledge. Such professional development provides them with a necessary knowledge base, helping them to continue to be effective with their ever-changing special education population.
So, as you all sit at those IEP meetings, remember to continue to have progressive goals for your students. Time is of the essence and we have to act now. We cannot wait until next year to make gains, to get closer to grade level on skill and ability development. My advice? Demand growth; plan with urgency; be flexible; work in collaboration; be accountable. And most of all - Keep the student and his/her needs at the center of the table. Everyone needs their focus to be on working with that student, helping him/her maximize the potential.
Again... Happy Spring!

Best wishes, Patty Useem

Rick Lavoie is coming to Indiana!

LDA of Indiana is excited to announce that Rick Lavoie will be the Keynote Speaker at our 2018 Annual Conference on November 2nd at the Ritz Charles Conference Center in Carmel. Read about him at

Participation Request from a Doctoral Student

Dear Valued Parents,
You are invited to participate in a research study! If a school psychologist, within the school setting, has ever evaluated your child, your opinions are sought regarding your child's most recent psychological report.
The purpose of the study is to help make psychological reports more parent- friendly. Your feedback may help improve reports in the future for parents of children in special education. The survey you will complete has 16 questions about you and 35 questions about your child's report. Some of the questions include: "I understood ____% of the report." and "What things were most helpful in your child's report?" The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and you can complete the survey on any preferred device such as a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. If you choose to participate, you can enter into a drawing for one of eight $25 Visa gift cards. The survey is at the following link: 
Your responses will not be linked to you in any way and are totally anonymous. Therefore, we ask for you to be open and honest in your opinions. 
If you have any questions about participating in this study, please contact Whitney Burke at  or at (424) 218-6480.
Your participation in this study is greatly appreciated!
Whitney Burke, Ed.S., NCSP, PhD Candidate
School Psychologist and Doctoral Student
The University of South Dakota"

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The Impact of Learning Disabilities on Social Skills
By A. Hussey, T. Bosse, L. Stevens, K. Wuebker, O. Miller, and L. Draper
Taylor University
No hitting, no yelling, no kicking, and no throwing. These are just a few of the many explicit rules which all students are expected to follow while in the classroom. It seems reasonable enough to expect students to follow these four simple rules. Although a teacher, parent, or anyone who interacts with children may say "You only need to follow these rules," That statement is not a true reflection of reality. Within our society there are hundreds of unspoken social rules which most people naturally follow without being explicitly taught. Most people have an understanding of how to engage with one another on a daily basis whether at home, at work, or at play. Neurological learning disabilities, including ADHD, affect an individual's ability to cognitively make sense of societal social rules. For example, when two people pass each other and one person asks "How are you doing?" the expectation is for the other person to say "Good. How are you?" and continue walking.   People with learning disabilities may struggle to see that this is an alternative way of saying "Hello." In addition to casual greetings and small talk, this article will aim to define what social skills are and how they can affect individuals with disabilities in everyday life, specifically in relationships, at school, and in future careers.
What Are Social Skills?
While there are many different definitions of what social skills are and can be, social skills are generally described and understood as the skills which people use daily to interact and to communicate with each other. The skills encompass a wide range of verbal and nonverbal communication features including speech patterns, tone of voice, physical gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Additionally, social skills can also be described simply as displaying good manners, being able to communicate effectively with others, and being considerate of how others feel, as well as being able to express one's personal needs. Today, someone who has strong social skills would be described as an individual who is able to manage social situations in ways that are "expected" or "appropriate," demonstrating an understanding of societal rules (both written and implied) when communicating with others. Social skills allow humans to make personal connections with one another; for some, these skills come easily, but for others this can pose a challenge. It is important to remember that, just like any other skill, social skills can be taught and learned!
Social Skills in Relationships
Because social skills are the basis by which individuals understand how to interact with others in various settings, one's abilities can strongly impact interactions with those around them. Given that social skills tend to come less naturally to individuals with learning disabilities and ADHD, these social interactions are, understandably, more difficult. The lack of usage is not intentional on the child's part; it is simply a skill that must be taught explicitly and developed intentionally.
            Without effective social skills, individuals with learning disabilities may struggle to understand the behaviors of those around them, face difficulty in developing healthy peer relationships, and may lack interest or enjoyment in interactions with others (Kavale & Mostert, 2004). These challenges often result in an avoidance of social situations due to a lack of understanding as to how it is most acceptable to act. Though children with exceptionalities generally desire positive social interactions, they often find greater rejection and loneliness than their typically-developing peers (Maag, 2005).
            To counteract potential rejection and loneliness, parents, friends, and educators should then desire to help teach and develop children with learning disabilities abilities. Although teaching and developing these skills takes time and explicit instruction, it is possible and highly beneficial. Stronger interpersonal skills can allow children to engage in positive interactions and friendships. This can also lead to a more effective generalized knowledge of how one may appropriately respond and act in a variety of contexts, enabling the child to become more confident in social situations.
Social Skills at School
            Social interactions are vital to a flourishing school setting. In schools, students develop awareness of their identity, and they begin to communicate with peers who are at similar stages of life. These school-based settings may involve communicating with peers during group projects, handling conflict with classmates, managing reactive behavior, expressing personal needs to teachers, listening in class, or controlling verbal impulses when a lesson is being taught. Students are also asked to regulate their social behaviors in settings such as in the lunchroom, in classrooms, at recess, on the school bus, or during extracurricular activities. All of these differing expected social behaviors across a variety of contexts may seem overwhelming for a student with learning disabilities. Therefore, students must be given the proper tools to equip themselves for these challenging social interactions.
Many teachers are using the school-based settings to teach social skills to students. Some topics that teachers may include are appropriate classroom behavior, anger management, manners, and conflict-resolution. McIntyre (2006) suggests several strategies for each of these categories. For classroom behavior, potential topics that could be taught involve implementing positive work habits such as listening, staying on task, following directions, accepting consequences, and seeking attention appropriately. Anger management may be taught through redirecting student behavior towards engaging in a prefered activity, counting to ten before reacting, or using positive self-talk and reflection to relax before responding with hostility. Strategies were also given for teaching manners, including polite ways to approach others, ask for permission, manage friendships, or share materials. Lastly, conflict-resolution may be taught through replacing aggressive behavior with using words to express one's feelings, or through encouraging students to seek the teacher's assistance, when necessary. Teachers and parents can collaborate to teach social skills that develop students' competence for the school environment.
Social Skills in the Work Environment
Meeting the educational requirements for a position are no longer enough to help an individual obtain and maintain a paying job in our modern world. The ways in which a person interacts with others in the workplace setting is likely to influence their future retention of the job, possible promotions, and the overall social relationships among coworkers. To this end, students with disabilities, must be well prepared to enter the workplace. Promoting positive future employment experiences begins with how parents and teachers prepare students for life while they are still in their classrooms and homes at a young age. This is a starting point for developing social skills for the workplace.
Young adults with disabilities are facing unemployment struggles at high rates today. Direct social skills instruction centered around the workplace setting can lead to individuals having a better understanding of themselves. It can develop a higher sense of self-awareness due to activities and exercises related to social skills necessary for the workplace. This connection to the workplace can lead to application to future workplace settings and generalization across community-based contexts.
Chu and Yang (2015) explain that some of the common social skills that most impact an individual's workplace performance are "proper attire and hygiene, proper behavior, punctuality and attendance, verbal social skills, and job responsibility," (p. 632). This list is not all-inclusive, nor is it exhaustive, as parents, teachers, and employers know that each individual has different strengths and weaknesses related to social skills. In most workplace settings, strong interpersonal skills are crucial and non-negotiable in order to carry out the day-to-day operations of businesses and organizations everywhere. If parents and teachers do not provide individuals with disabilities with opportunities to learn, practice and develop the necessary skills that will prepare them for entrance into the workplace, they may miss opportunities in employment and adult life.
Social skills affect students with ADHD and learning disabilities in their relationships, in their schools, and in their future work environments. It is most important for parents and teachers to remember that challenges with intrapersonal communication do not need to define students or prevent them from developing their abilities. Through explicit instruction, social skills can be taught to students with exceptionalities in order to make the unspoken conventions of human interaction concrete, accessible, and achievable. To learn more about social skills, hear Rick Lavoie's speak during the Learning Disabilities Association of Indiana's Annual Conference in November of 2018.
Chu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2015). Are our special education students ready for work?
An  investigation of the teaching of job-related social skills in northern
Taiwan.  International  Journal Of Disability, Development And Education
62(6), 628-643. 
Kavale, K. A., & Mostert, M. P. (2004). Social skills interventions for individuals
with learning disabilities.  Learning Disability Quarterly, 27 (1), 31-43.
Maag, J. W. (2005). Social skills for youth with emotional and behavioral
disorders and learning disabilities: Problems, conclusions, and
suggestions.  Exceptionality 13 (3), 55-172.
McIntyre, T. (2006, June 23). Teaching social skills to kids who don't yet have
them. Retrieved  April 10, 2018, from

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Here are the Award Winners  from Last Year's Conference.  
Who do you know that deserves to be
recognized this year? 
Submit a nomination today below!
2017 Award Winners
Learn, Dream, & Achieve Award
This award acknowledges and celebrates the accomplishments of an Indiana high school or college student who has a learning disability or attention deficit disorder.
2017 Winner: Beverly Winters
 Cascade High School, Clayton

Amy Forshey Memorial Excellence in Education Award
This award acknowledges and celebrates the accomplishments of an Indiana educational professional who excels in the field of learning disabilities and/or ADHD.
2017 Winner: 
Dr. Beth Tulbert
Fortune Academy, 

You Make a Difference Award
This award acknowledges and celebrates the accomplishments of a community member or organization in Indiana that has been especially helpful to persons with  learning disabilities and/or ADHD.
2017 Winner: Amanda Whybrew
Kokomo Center Schools, Kokomo

Read More about the Award Winners Below!
LDA-IN is now accepting  nominations for the 2018 Awards
to be presented at the next Annual Conference.  For questions, email
You may submit a nomination for an award at any time.  See information on the LDA website:

Seeking Presenters for 2018 Annual Conference

LDA of Indiana is seeking presenters for the 2018 Annual Conference to be held on November 2 at the Ritz Charles Conference Center in Carmel.  We are looking for knowledgeable presenters with strategies and tips for teaching students with learning disabilities in these academic areas:  Writing, Beginning Reading Instruction (phonics, sight words, fluency, etc.), Reading for Comprehension in middle grades, Elementary Math, Middle and/or High School Math.  Please send proposals to by May 30. 

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LDA Board Meeting
You are invited to attend the next Board meeting on
June 2 at Midwest Academy, 1420 Chase Court in Carmel. 
See a map and directions on the LDA website. 

For information about the conference or state organization 
or go to the
for up to date legislative news or information about
Learning Disabilities, Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyscalulia,
Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Language Processing Disorder,
Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities, Visual Perceptual,
Memory, ADHD, Executive Functioning.