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Why should I seek your help?
What other Educational Consultation Services do you offer?
After the evaluation is complete, how will you help?
What is an educational advocate?
What kind of tutors do you recommend?
What is a
multisensory or
Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, or Lindamood-Bell approach to reading/language instruction?
What is a Learning Disability?
What is a Reading Disability?
What is Dyslexia? 
What are some Early Warning Signs of a Learning Disability?
What is ADHD?
What is an IEP or PPT Meeting?
What is an IEP?
What is a 504 Accommodation Plan?
Acronyms Frequently Used in Special Education
How can I contact you?


Why should I seek your help?

The most obvious reasoning is of course that your child is not successful in school and needs an evaluation to determine if there is something interfering with their ability to learn. There are many other reasons why a child should be evaluated, including:

  • My child was evaluated by the school and was not identified to receive special services and is still not doing well

  • You feel that your child is bright yet not doing as well you think they should in school

  • Your instincts tell you that your child is much more capable

  • Displays processing delays

  • Spends an excessive amount of time completing their homework

  • Struggles with attention and concentration

  • Think they might be gifted

  • They work very hard yet are always just below grade level

  • Does poorly on the state mastery tests

  • Struggles with reading

  • Displays weak writing or reading comprehension skills

  • Your child hates school

Other reasons to seek support:

  • The school district refused to evaluate your child.

  • You feel that the local school district might have made a mistake in the evaluation.

  • You are concerned that the school is not doing everything they can for your child.

  • Are you wondering if the school district made the correct interpretations involving your child's testing data

  • The modifications, accommodations, or recommendations made at the IEP or 504 meeting don’t seem to be meeting your child’s needs.

  • You felt that there were too many terms or procedures that you didn't understand at the meeting.

  • You didn’t feel listened to at the meeting are not sure your child’s needs are being met. 

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What other Educational Consultation Services do you offer?

  • Consultation to organize and implement an educational plan to meet your child’s needs

  • Assessment and testing

  • Advocacy

  • Making sure your child has appropriate access to school services and programs

  • Referrals to tutors and therapists specializing in working with challenged learners

  • Public and private primary, elementary, and high school selection assistance

  • Performing a thorough review of your child’s school records to make sure that the records are current, accurate, and understood by you.

  • Working with you so you gain a clear and comprehensive picture of your child’s learning challenges, school issues, or disabilities.

  • ADHD assessment and consultation to improve effectiveness in task and activity management

  • Performing classroom observations to assess the learning environment for your child.

  • Forming a plan with you for IEP or 504 team discussion, documentation and implementation.

  • Helping parents prepare for multidisciplinary conferences, eligibility team meetings, IEP and Section 504 development meetings.

  • Attending school meetings with parents.

  • Ongoing consultation and support, as needed.

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After the evaluation is complete, how will you help?

Most importantly, I will thoroughly go over your child’s test results and help you to understand how your child learns. I will provide you with both a comprehensive report and many detailed recommendations for home, school, and curriculum. I help people clarify problems, solve them and coach parents in applying solutions in the real world. With that information, I will teach you how to be your child’s own best advocate in order to obtain programs and services for your child in a positive manner. If needed, I can help you access school support, attend school meetings, find tutors, and so on. My support does not end with the evaluation. Families often have me review goals, attend school meetings, or seek phone or email support throughout their child’s academic career.

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What is an educational advocate?

An educational advocate is someone who assists you in many ways to change, update, and improve the process that provides you or your child with education, taking the learning disabilities into account. They can do this by reviewing your child’s goals and objectives, supporting you at school meetings, or just by providing you with a consult on different situations that may arise. Just because your child receives special education services does not mean they are getting the right kind of support. Dr. Capanna-Hodge can help you navigate the educational maze by providing you with insight into of the process of accessing school support and the federal laws that govern this.

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What kind of tutors do you recommend?

I refer to tutors that are certified special education teachers and/or specialized reading teachers. Specifically, the reading teachers need to be trained in an Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, or Lindamood-Bell approach to reading instruction. These types of tutors are trained to work with diverse learners. They have a “bag of tricks” so to speak and are great at individualizing instruction to meet the needs that learn differently. Most students with learning challenges work the times harder than their peers usually without a successful result. It is important that students learn strategies that work for them so they can learn in a more efficient manner. Specialized reading instruction and learning study skills are only two of the many ways that these tutors can assist your child.

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What is a
multisensory or Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, or Lindamood-Bell approach to reading/language instruction?

Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, both pioneers in the field of dyslexia, designed the first multisensory method used to teach individuals with dyslexia in the 1930’s. Their method is backed by years of neurological, psychological and educational research. They realized that Dyslexic students need a different approach to learning language and must be directly taught the basic elements of their language. They need specific instruction in the sounds and the letters that represent them and how to put these together and take them apart.

In multisensory teaching, instructors teach in a manner that necessitates students use visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities to learn, enabling them to rely on their strengths but more importantly, strengthening their weaknesses. In multisensory teaching, links are consistently made between what is seen (visual), heard (auditory), and what can be felt or experienced (tactile/kinesthetic). By tapping into all of the senses, or modalities, all of these programs enable the child with dyslexia to learn.

These methodologies all utilize phonetics and emphasize visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. Instruction begins by focusing on the structure of language and gradually moves towards reading. The program provides students with immediate feedback and a predictable sequence that integrates reading, writing and spelling.

Research has shown us that children with Dyslexia need a synthetic approach that has to be multisensory, phonics-based, structured, sequential, systematic, and cumulative. These methods are language-based and success-oriented. The student is directly taught reading, handwriting and written expression as one logical body of knowledge. Learners move step by step from simple to more complex material in a sequential, logical manner that enables students to master important literacy skills. This comprehensive approach to reading instruction benefits all students.

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What is a Learning Disability?

A learning disability is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations despite at least average intelligence. It impedes the ability to store, process or produce information.

When someone has a learning disability, it means that he or she learns differently than most people, and that learning itself is usually more difficult. A learning disability is a condition that can affect anybody, regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender.

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What is a Reading Disability?

A reading disability is when a reader has problems meeting reading milestones for a given age or grade. It is when one has difficulty reading or understanding within a reading. A child can have difficulty with one or more aspects of the reading process. A reading disability may also be referred to as a reading difficulty, reading problem, reading disorder or dyslexia.

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What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.  It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the PHONOLOGICAL component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. When children learn to read, they must first become aware that spoken words are made of these pieces of sound. After they gain this knowledge (known as phonological awareness) then they must be taught that letters or combinations of letters are the way in which we represent these sounds on paper. Most children grasp this concept easily, no matter what method is used to teach them. Studies have found, however, that at least 20 percent of children must be taught this letter-sound system directly in order to learn to read successfully. About 95% of Dyslexics MUST have a very specific type of structured, multi-sensory approach to reading. Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, Fast Forward, and Lindamood reading programs are all structured, multi-sensory reading programs.

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What are some Early Warning Signs of a Learning Disability?

Early Warning Signs:

  • Late talking, compared to other children.

  • Pronunciation problems.

  • Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word.

  • Difficulty understanding questions

  • Hard time expressing wants and desires

  • Difficulty rhyming words.

  • Trouble learning numbers, the alphabet, and days of the week.

  • Difficulty discriminating size, shape, color

  • Poor ability to follow or memorize directions or routines

  • Easily confused by instructions

  • Lack of interest in story telling

  • Difficulty sitting still

  • Extremely restless and easily distracted.

  • Trouble interacting with peers.

  • Lack of persistence at tasks

  • Fine motor skills slow to develop

  • Trouble learning self-help skills (tying shoelaces)

  • Clumsiness

  • Avoidance of drawing or tracing

  • Trouble learning left from right


  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds

  • Difficulty breaking words apart into sounds

  • Difficulty blending sounds together to make words

  • Confuses basic words (run eat, want, was)

  • Difficulty pronouncing new words and remembering them

  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left) and substitutions (house/home)

  • Guesses at unknown words while reading because they can’t figure out the sounds or blend them together

  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x, /, =).

  • Trouble following directions

  • Slow recall of facts

  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization

  • Difficulty with cause and effect, sequencing, and counting

  • Slow to learn new concepts

  • Impulsive, difficulty planning

  • Careless errors

  • Distractibility

  • Organizational problems

  • Unstable pencil grip

  • Trouble with letter formation

  • Trouble learning about time and other math concepts

  • Difficulty finishing work on time

  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents

  • Often very competent in oral language, but not with written language


  • Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solid, left/felt)

  • Slow to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other spelling strategies

  • Doesn’t know the sounds associated with all of the letters

  • Skips words in a sentence and doesn’t stop to self-correct

  • Can’t remember words; sounds out the same word every time it occurs on the page

  • Frequently guesses at unknown words rather than sounding them out

  • Avoids reading aloud

  • Poor reading comprehension

  • Lack of verbal participation in class.

  • Trouble with word problems

  • Difficulty with handwriting

  • Awkward, fist-like or tight pencil grip

  • Avoids writing compositions

  • Slow or poor recall of number facts

  • Failure of automatic memory

  • Inconsistency

  • Poor self-monitoring

  • Poor ability to discern relevant detail

  • Poor learning strategies

  • Disorganization in time or space

  • Difficulty finishing work on time

  • Peer rejection

  • Difficulty making and keeping friends

  • Trouble understanding body language and facial expressions

  • Often very competent in oral language, but not with written language

  • Poor performance in tests and quizzes despite good study skills


  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing

  • Avoids reading and writing tasks

  • Trouble summarizing

  • Trouble with open-ended questions on tests

  • Weak grasp of information

  • Foreign language problems

  • Poor written expression

  • Mental fatigue

  • Weak memory skills

  • Difficulty adjusting to new settings

  • Works slowly

  • Poor grasp of abstract concepts

  • Either pays too little attention to details or focuses on them too much

  • Misreads information

  • Difficulty persisting through tasks

  • May have difficulty with planning, organization and management of time, materials and tasks

  • Often very competent in oral language, but not with written language

  • Poor performance in tests and quizzes despite good study skills

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What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a challenging condition experienced by a number of children, adolescents, and adults. Core symptoms include problematic levels of impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. It is a biologically based disorder that when diagnosed properly and managed effectively, one can lead a full and productive life.

Symptoms found in childhood that suggest the disorder include inattentiveness, distractibility, impulsivity and for some individuals hyperactivity.

More specifically one might find a child:

  • Failing to give close attention to details and making careless mistakes

  • Having difficulty sustaining attention

  • Not appearing to listen Struggling to follow through with instructions

  • Having difficulty with organizing tasks

  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort

  • Being forgetful in daily activities

One may also find the child:

  • To be excessively restless

  • To fidget with hands or feet or squirm in the chair

  • To have difficulty remaining seated when expected To run about or climb excessively

  • To talk excessively

  • To create disruption in activities in which he/she is expected to do quietly

  • To have difficulty waiting one's turn

  • To interrupt or intrude upon others

In adolescence the symptom presentation generally shifts from the prominent impulsivity and hyperactivity of childhood to a correspondingly greater experience of challenges with poor organization, forgetfulness, excessive daydreaming, poor follow through on tasks, the needing of excessive direction, and engaging in risky behavior.

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What is an IEP or PPT Meeting?

A team of people through a formal meeting format makes decisions regarding special education. In Connecticut the team has been called a "Planning and, Placement Team" or "PPT". With recent changes to the Special Education law (IDEA), that name will probably change to "IEP Team Meeting", so that there is consistency of terms across the country.

A Planning and Placement Team (PPT) is a group of people from the school district whose responsibility is to determine whether a student needs an evaluation, or special education and/or related services based on the results of evaluations, and then to plan an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for that student. The Planning and Placement Team (PPT) must include the parent, an administrator, a special education teacher, and a member of the pupil personnel staff. The PPT must also include a regular education teacher. It may also include a speech and language specialist, a school psychologist, the school nurse and any other staff members who know the student or whose special background may be helpful in interpreting evaluation results or otherwise assisting in the PPT process. When appropriate, the child with a disability is also included in the PPT meeting. Parent, guardians, surrogate parents or students have the right to invite an advisor of their choice to the PPT meeting (or any other individual) to act as an advocate or just to lend support. The law always requires schools to provide parents with their due process special education rights, at or before thee meetings. The ideal goal of the meeting is always to work collaboratively for the benefit of the student.

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What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the educational program that has been designed to meet that child's unique needs.  Each child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP.  Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document.  The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when age appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legally binding document.  It establishes a plan for an individual student who meets the following eligibility criteria: 1) Is identified as having one or more of the 13 disabilities defined in state and Federal laws. 2) The student is unable to progress effectively in regular education as a result of the disability.

The following is a summary of what is contained in the IEP:

  • The student's disability,

  • A statement vision statement of the student's long-term goal (1 - 5 years in future).

  • Describe how the student's disability affects their progress in the classroom.

  • Short term goals, based upon the child's own learning strengths and weaknesses,

  • How the child's progress towards these goals will be measure and how will the goals be evaluated

  • Accommodations and modifications

  • For students with behavior or emotional issues that interfere with their learning, the IEP should contain a program designed to teach the student appropriate behavior and social skills.  All behavior management techniques to be used.

  • Summer services

  • Transports needs

  • Type of placement

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What is a 504 Accommodation Plan?

It is a plan designed to accommodate the unique needs of an individual with a disability, as required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the first civil rights law guaranteeing equal opportunity for more than 35 million Americans with disabilities.

Children who have disabilities, but whose disabilities do not interfere with their ability to progress in general education are not eligible for special education services, may be entitled to a 504 Accommodation Plan. School districts must ensure that students with disabilities have meaningful opportunities to participate in all aspects of school on an equal basis with students without disabilities. "Handicapped person" is defined by Section 504 as a person with a mental or physical impairment that limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working, to a substantial degree. Depending upon the student's individual needs, a school district may be required to provide the following: specialized instruction, modifications to the curriculum, accommodations in non-academic and extra curricular activities, adaptive equipment or assistive technology devices, an aide, assistance with health related needs, school transportation, or other related services and accommodations.

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Acronyms Frequently Used in Special Education :

-- Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence (used when assessing behaviors of students)
-- Annual Goal
ADD -- Attention Deficit Disorder

-- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
 -- Adaptive Physical Education
--Autistic Spectrum Disorder
-- Child Study Team
-- Developmental Disability/Delay
ED -- Emotional Disturbance

 -- Educable Mentally Retarded
Educational Resource Information Center Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
-- Extended School Day
ESL --
English as a Second Language
Free Appropriate Public Education
FBA --
Functional Behavior Assessment
-- Facilitated Communication
-- Gifted and Talented
-- Hearing Impaired
-- Intellectually Disabled (formerly Mentally Retarded)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP --
Individualized Education Program
-- Independent Evaluation
Individualized Family Service Plan
ITP --
Individualized Transition Plan
LRE --
Least Restrictive Environment
National Association of School Psychologists
NEA --
National Education Association
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
Positive Behavior Interventions
-- Pervasive Developmental Disorder
-- Physical Impairment
-- Present levels of performance
Section 504
-- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
-- Serious Emotional Disturbance
-- Sensory Integration
-- Speech/Language Pathologist
 -- Traumatic Brain Injury
 -- Tourette’s Syndrome
-- Visual Impairment
Voc Ed
-- Vocational Education
-- Vocational Rehabilitation

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How can I contact you?

Please call me or email me. I believe it is important to give parents the time that they need to answer their questions. If you don’t get me directly, please leave me the best time to reach you.

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