What exactly is “Twice-Exceptional” (2e)?

Twice-exceptional students are those who are identified as gifted according to state criteria in one or more of the categories of giftedness (cognitive, academic, creative, leadership, or arts). In Colorado, these students, once identified, are most likely provided with an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP).


Identified with a disability according to federal/state criteria – and the disability qualifies them for either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan.

General Twice-Exceptional Information

What you need to know.

Twice-exceptional children tend to fall into one of three categories. These categories help explain why students often go through school without the services and stimulation they need:

  • Students whose giftedness masks their learning and attention issues. These kids score high on tests for giftedness but may not do well in gifted programs. These students use their exceptional abilities to try to compensate for their weaknesses. But as they get older, they may be labeled as “underachievers” or “lazy” as they fall behind their gifted peers.
  • Students whose learning and attention issues mask their giftedness. Learning and attention issues can affect performance on IQ tests and other assessments for giftedness. For example, since many of these tests require language skills, kids with language-based challenges may not perform well. These kids may be placed in special education classes, where they become bored and possibly act out because they aren’t being challenged enough. Some of these children are identified, wrongly, as having emotional problems.
  • Students whose learning and attention issues and giftedness mask each other. These kids may appear to have average ability because their strengths and weaknesses “cancel each other out.” Consequently, these students may not qualify for gifted programs or for special education programs.

Here are some early signs that your child could be a twice-exceptional learner:

  • Extraordinary talent in a particular area, such as math, drawing, verbal communication or music
  • A significant gap between your child’s performance in school and his performance on aptitude tests
  • Signs of a processing disorder, such as having trouble following spoken directions or stories that are read aloud

There isn’t a simple, one-test for identifying twice-exceptional children. Determination will require professionals at the school including the Special Educator, School Psychologist, Social Worker, and Nurse. Private practices can also diagnose twice-exceptional. Whether the school or private practice is enlisted to help, they must be familiar with this population and its unique presentation. Misdiagnosis often occurs with this population. A good place to start is for you and the teachers to keep records of what your child excels in and struggles with. Be on the lookout for “disconnects” between how hard your child is studying and what kinds of grades your child is making.

How to Help Your Child

With the right supports and encouragement, twice-exceptional learners can flourish. Talk to the school. If you suspect your child may be twice exceptional, request a meeting with the school’s special education coordinator. Discuss your concerns, and ask about types of tests. The Colorado Department of Education endorses an IEP and ALP (advanced learning plan) be put in place to meet the needs of the twice-exceptional student in the public-school setting. This process can be daunting, so some districts have 2e advocacy through their GT department.

Seek advice from a local expert: Turning Point Assessments has specialized in twice-exceptional identification for 30 years and can help you decide if a private evaluation is needed. We can identify gifted and twice-exceptional students and provide individualized recommendations based on strengths and challenge areas. Many schools are grateful to receive this information to help with educational planning for a 2e student because they have not had training or experience with this population.

Ask to stay in the gifted program. If your child has been identified as gifted but is not doing well in that program, request that he be assessed for learning and attention issues before any decisions are made about removing him from the program.

Make the most of your child’s IEP and ALP. If the school determines that your child is twice exceptional, use the annual goals in his IEP to address his weaknesses and the ALP to nurture his gifts. Be prepared to brainstorm—and to be persistent!

Find other twice-exceptional kids. Encourage your child to spend time with children who have similar interests and abilities. This can help him celebrate his strengths and feel less isolated. You may be able to connect with twice-exceptional families through Understood’s parent community.

Empower your child. Help him understand what his gifts and weaknesses are. Reassure him that he can get support in the areas where he struggles. But resist the urge to rush in and rescue him every time he gets frustrated. It’s better to help him learn to cope with his mixed abilities.

Why it’s important for a 2E child to receive a 504 or advanced learning plan (ALP):

Some organizations estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of twice-exceptional learners in U.S. schools. But there are no hard numbers because so many of these students are never formally identified as being gifted, having a disability or both. Students who are gifted and disabled are at risk for not achieving their potential because of the relationship that exists between their enhanced cognitive abilities and their disabilities. They are among the most frequently under-identified population in our schools. Twice-exceptional students present a unique identification and service delivery dilemma for educators. Often educators, parents, and students are asked to choose between services to address one exceptionality or the other, leaving twice-exceptional students both under-identified and underserved in our schools.  In order for them to not only reach their potential and be understood we need to learn how to accommodate their needs in the classroom so that they can strengthen their weaknesses and maximize their strengths. Like all other students with disabilities, gifted students with co-existing disabilities have the right to a free appropriate public education.


Resources for parents, teachers and professionals helping twice-exceptional children reach their potential.


Peg Rosen: Gifted Children’s Challenges with Learning and Attention Issues. Retrieved from:

Colorado Department of Education:


ADHD Students & Section 504 Regulations: What Parents & School Psychologists Need To Know

In response to numerous complaints alleging discrimination in elementary and secondary education programs related to ADHD, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued two documents to clarify and provide guidance on Federal obligations of school districts to students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In particular, the OCR provided policy guidance to ensure students are receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as defined in Section 504. The OCR also issued a policy resource guide for school personnel. (See links below)

Major Guidelines

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) broadened the definition of disability by expanding the list of examples of major life activities to include concentrating, reading, thinking and functions of the brain. This includes executive functions that may be compromised by symptoms of ADHD. If a student is found ineligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school district may be obligated to evaluate eligibility for services through Section 504. It’s important for parents to know they have the right to request a 504 evaluation. The OCR makes it very clear that a diagnosis of ADHD of any type meets the Section 504 definition of a disability. Because students with inattentive presentation may not disrupt classroom activities as much as those with combined or hyperactive-impulsive presentations, teachers may be less likely to notice their concentration difficulties and may not consider referring the student for an evaluation of ADHD. Therefore, school district failure in evaluating under Section 504 for students with ADHD inattentive presentation may be fairly common.

Parents may not be aware that students can achieve a high level of academic success but still meet the Section 504 definition of having a disability. Students can experience limitations to one or more major life activities beyond academic functioning including behavior, organizational skills, and social relationships. Disability evaluation does not exclusively focus on learning and considers the impact of ADHD symptoms on other major life activities. It is possible that students with ADHD obtain average or above average grades but must put additional time and effort into learning activities at school or home to achieve this level of success. Thus, the OCR cautions school practitioners to not rely on GPA or report card grades alone when evaluating students for disability under Section 504. A student with ADHD whose symptoms are well controlled by treatment to the extent that academic and social functioning is appropriate may not require additional services under Section 504. However, these same students would be considered as having a disability and would be protected from discrimination under 504.

Other Guidelines:

  • There cannot be a delay in evaluating students for disability in order to initiate a multitier prevention/intervention process as is allowed under IDEA. An evaluation of the student can occur at the same time that interventions are being implemented. Strategies must not deny or delay evaluation of students suspected of having ADHD
  • The guidelines are explicit that medical assessments are not a required component of an evaluation for ADHD. Although some districts and states require that a physician be involved in making diagnostic decisions about ADHD, this is not mandated by the Department of Education. Therefore, if districts require a medical assessment, the guidance is clear that the school district is liable to pay for that assessment.
  • The educational needs of each student with ADHD are unique. As such, one size does not fit all students with regard to Section 504 service plans. The guidelines indicate that service plans and supports must be tailored to address the unique challenges and needs of each student.
  • The content of 504 plans cannot be restricted to adjustments that are low in cost and relatively easy to implement. The guidelines point out that children with ADHD may require interventions that are more challenging to implement and involve some cost to the district.
  • The guidance clearly indicates that it is the responsibility of school officials and staff, and not parents, to ensure that students receive FAPE. It is imperative for school staff to be responsive to parent requests for identification, evaluation, and plan development. In addition, each school district is required to designate a Section 504 coordinator to ensure that the mandates of this law are followed in the district.
  • School psychologists have the tools to evaluate whether students have ADHD so the OCR highlights that physicians are not required to conduct ADHD diagnostic evaluations.
  • If intervention implementation data suggests that the strategies no longer meet the student’s needs, the plan must be altered in a timely manner to ensure the student’s continued access to FAPE.

Per Patty Martens, it is important to avoid 504 accommodations that can do more harm than good. Although written with the best of intentions, there are some suggestions that are misguided. With 40 years of combined experience, The Patty’s (Patty Martens and Patty Meek) have direct experience with how to avoid this. For example, sitting next to a positive role model or having a peer assist is often recommended, when in reality this sets up the child with ADHD to feel shamed or inferior. Another common recommendation is to put tape on the floor around a student’s desk to show where they can move. In reality, the tape becomes a target and the student becomes the bulls-eye. And of course, there is the student planner contract. The contract usually requires that student to use a planner notebook with the intention of improving organization, when it actually becomes an additional opportunity for the ADHD student to fail. Consider that the ADHD student has a neurological deficit that prevents them from attending to detail, then they are given a contract that states they will be given 20 more details to attend to, including but not limited to, finding the teacher at the right time to initial the planner, finding the parent to initial the planner, finding the assignment written down on the wall, then finding the pencil, then the place in the notebook, not forgetting the planner at home or school…

If you have a child with ADHD and have had success with 504 accommodations, please share them with us.

-Turning Point Assessments

Evidenced-Based Intervention Techniques for Dyslexia, Learning Disorders, and ADHD

Students with learning and attention disorders face significant challenges in the classroom. That is why it’s important to seek tutors, programs, schools, and teachers who are using evidence-based intervention techniques and best practices.

It’s important to note that terms like scientifically-based and research-based are distinctly different from evidence-based practices in critically important ways. Scientifically-based research describes the methods used to test instructional practices by providing the general guidelines and research required for evaluating effectiveness. The methods are used in answering what is most likely to work?

Research-based is the broadest of the three terms and describes practices that have been studied in some way but doesn’t necessarily use all the quality indicators of scientifically-based research. It might refer to a single study that has not been replicated, doesn’t allow for an evaluation of cause and effect, uses small numbers of subjects and participants, and includes studies that may or may not have been vetted by a panel of experts. It does not necessarily include a control group or comparison group and isn’t replicated, therefore providing little evidence; in other words, it’s unclear whether the results are likely to be replicated if used in another researcher’s setting. Just because research has been done, doesn’t mean it has been done well, is unbiased, valid, or reliable.

Evidence-based practices are considered type and magnitude of research. Type refers to the systematic way researchers apply an intervention and measure its effectiveness. (The type must be quantitative; meaning the effects of the intervention must be measureable). It must show a clear cause-and-effect relationship with improved outcomes by using a comparison and control group. Magnitude refers to the amount of studies that show a strong, positive correlation between an intervention and improved academic or behavioral outcomes. It’s evaluated by examining the effects of a collection of studies that lead to consensus about the effectiveness of a particular practice.

The following list is comprised of evidence-based practices.

Important disclaimer: Every child is different and their behaviors and needs will also be unique. We suggest tutors, programs, and schools that provide specific, evidence-based techniques and we discuss them with you at the follow-up meeting after the evaluation. This does not mean we guarantee that these techniques will result in a positive outcome in all cases. There are too many variables involved to provide any kind of guarantee of success. We also do not receive any financial or exchange benefit from making specific recommendations. We sincerely want to provide our professional opinion about what may be an effective intervention for your child. This is not a complete list. There are many other effective techniques which we are continually discovering.

  1. Orton Gillingham techniques for dyslexia

This highly structured program introduced the idea of breaking reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. It also pioneered the “multisensory” approach to teaching reading, which is considered the gold standard for teaching students with dyslexia. This means that instructors use sight, hearing, touch and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. (Rosen 2016)

Orton–Gillingham also puts a strong emphasis on understanding the “how” and “why” behind reading. Students may explore why the letter s sounds one way in the word plays, and another way in the word snake. Once they know consistent rules and patterns, they’re better able to decode words on their own. (Rosen 2016)

  1. Instruction techniques for dyscalculia (math learning disabilities)

The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project

UCSMP has created a curriculum for students from pre-kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. UCSMP materials, including Everyday Mathematics for Grades preK-6 and seven UCSMP textbooks for use in Grades 6-12 mathematics (Pre-Transition Mathematics; Transition Mathematics; Algebra; Geometry; Advanced Algebra; Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry; and Precalculus and Discrete Mathematics), are being used currently by an estimated 4.5 million students in elementary and secondary schools in every state and virtually every major urban area. (Usiskin) We find that these techniques are appropriate for children with strong visual memory, language, and fluid reasoning ability. They are not as effective with children who are concrete learners and who need foundational memorization of facts and consistent scope and sequence of skills.

 Connected Mathematics

CMP is a problem-centered curriculum promoting an inquiry-based teaching-learning classroom environment. Mathematical ideas are identified and embedded in a sequenced set of tasks and explored in depth to allow students to develop rich mathematical understandings and meaningful skills.

Saxon Math (for elementary age students with math disabilities)

Saxon takes an incremental approach to math, introducing a new skill or principle each day, then reviewing these concepts and skills day after day for weeks. This approach helps build students’ confidence in their ability to “do” math successfully. Students who have used this program receive consistently high scores on standardized math tests. We find this technique to be successful with concrete, sequential learners who need memorization, review, and scope and sequence learning.


  1. Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) for middle and high school students with math disabilities

I Can Learn

A full-curriculum mathematics software solution that is a self-paced, mastery-based technology fully aligned to Common Core State Standards for math grades 5th through Algebra and allows for effective differentiated instruction in a positive learning environment.

Jostens/Compass Learning

Jostens/Compass learning provides an extensive set of assessments which place students according to their current levels of performance and then gives students exercises designed primarily to fill in gaps in their skills.

Accelerated Math

Students must learn to think critically—like mathematicians—in order to master math. Accelerated Math keeps students working—and thinking—to solve a set of 6 problems before they see which ones they missed. The right amount of productive struggle helps students learn.


  1. Writing assist materials for dysgraphia

Stem sentences, essay templates and graphic organizers for dysgraphia:

They Say / I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings (Second Edition)

High School Essay Templates

Elementary School – Sentence generators: and Stem sentences:

and Handwriting without Tears:

  1. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) for ADHD

“A functional assessment is an approach to figuring out why your child acts a certain way. It uses a variety of techniques to understand what’s behind inappropriate behaviors. This includes looking at non-academic factors that might be contributing to your child’s frustration with learning.”

“Knowing what’s behind inappropriate behavior can help you and the school find ways to change the behavior. The basic idea behind this approach is that your child’s behavior serves a purpose. Whether they’re aware of it or not, your child acts a certain way to get to a desired outcome or goal.”

“A key part of a functional assessment is figuring out what triggers certain behaviors in your child at home, in school and with friends. Sometimes parents and teachers assume they know what’s causing a child’s behavior because they’ve seen other children do similar things. But it’s important to remember that the causes for the same behavior can vary widely among children.” (Morin 2016)

Learn more at:

Identifying and effectively using evidence-based practices is particularly important for special educators because students in special education often already have academic or behavioral deficits. Using evidence-based practices with ongoing progress monitoring gives students the best chance at achieving their goals. For an extensive list, The Colorado Department of Education has an excellent .pdf on best practices which can be found here

-Turning Point Team

Brain Training Programs for ADHD, Dyslexia and other Learning Disorders: Issues & Controversies

Parents are eager to help their ADHD or LD child, and in response, there is a wave of new companies offering hope by touting extraordinary claims. At Turning Point, we have decided to dig a little deeper to determine if their claims are backed by nonbiased, reputable science.

Buzz words such as “neuroplasticity” and “brain training” sound scientific when selling the idea that neurodevelopmental problems can be fixed. It’s easy to see the attraction with these packaged interventions; however, there are a number of red flags and considerations we implore you to take note of before investing your time and money.

It’s important to note that some clients may have found these types of programs to improve either themselves or their child’s learning. However, we have yet to hear from any of our clients that their investment resulted in convincing results. This is what lead to our investigation.

We would like to refer you to several articles as part of your due diligence in considering these programs. Some of the articles we suggest are primary sources and some are secondary or opinion pieces. They refer to organizations such as Brain Balance, Lumosity and Arrowsmith, and there is also some mention of Interactive Metronome.

To start your inquiry, this article from Stanford University Department of Longevity addresses the claims being made by the entire industry A Consensus on the Brain Training Industry from the Scientific Community and this one from the Association for Psychological Science (APS) addresses the general scientific opinion on the industry Do “Brain-Training” Programs Work?

Starting with the company Brain Balance, Harriet Hall, MD saved us some work here by questioning the company’s science in her opinion piece posted on the website Science-Based Medicine. She makes some good points referring to the “Hawthorne Effect” for example, and questioning why there are no control groups in their studies. Here is a snippet from her article:

“The Brain Balance Study”

This new study on brain balance is a pilot study, the kind of study whose results are not intended to guide clinical decisions but only to direct future research. They didn’t even bother to use a control group. They took 122 children with diagnosed ADHD and submitted them to what they call “a hemisphere specific remediation program.” The rationale for the study was flimsy. They speculate that ADHD is related to a “functional dysconnectivity,” hemispheric imbalance, subcortical dysfunction, a lack of temporal coherence, and a difference in arousal level between the hemispheres. They provide no evidence that these are characteristic of ADHD or were present in their subjects, or that their treatments specifically changed any of them. They assumed an underactive right hemisphere (it was not clear why) and they provided interventions that they assumed (without any supporting evidence) ought to remedy the alleged imbalance. They tested for the child’s specific deficits and provided tailored interventions: these included sensory stimulation, motor training, aerobic strength and conditioning, primitive reflex inhibition exercises and academic training. None of these interventions seem to me to be directed at a specific hemisphere, despite their unsupported statement that the treatment “was aimed nominally at exercises thought to principally stimulate the less efficiently performing hemisphere.” (Emphasis added.) Synchronized Metronome Treatment was given, where subjects listened to a metronome beat and matched physical movements to it. This was intended to “improve participants’ timing/rhythmicity by reducing the latency between the onset of the metronome beat and the participant’s expectancy response to the beat.” It is not clear how any of the tested interventions constituted “hemisphere specific training.”

The subjects improved significantly on several measures: parental reports, achievement tests, grade level performance, objective improvement in coordination with the interactive metronome. But what do these results mean? Without a control group, it is impossible to know whether the interventions were responsible for the improvement. In the “Hawthorne effect,” simply being enrolled in a study tends to improve performance. People frequently improve their performance when any test is repeated. In this case, all children were also taking stimulant medication throughout the study: how do we know that alone didn’t account for the improvements? (Hall 2010)

Article found here: Brain Balance

There has also been a great deal of controversy about Lumosity, which claims that playing “brain games” can “challenge” your memory, attention, and problem solving skills. They also state these games can help prevent age-related memory decline, including dementia. based on “proven neuroscience research.” The Federal Trade Commission however, charged that Lumosity doesn’t show solid science proving these games work the way they claim to. Due to its misleading ads, the FTC issued thousands of customer rebates amounting to almost $2 million from Lumosity.

The US is cracking down on other brain-training games. The FTC moved against the marketer of LearningRx Suite for brain-training games which resulted in a $200,000 settlement for their false claims about their games improving ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.

These articles further discuss the research and the false claims made by Lumosity:

Lastly, we discuss a controversial school program that claims to help children with learning difficulties; however, experts are warning there is no definitive proof that it works. The Arrowsmith Program has students complete a series of neuroplasticity exercises to change their brain. One of the main criticisms is that there’s never been empirically-based research on the program, nor has the program been peer-reviewed by nonbiased professionals. The program does reference studies that have been done on very small groups of participants and makes reference to studies that are not yet completed.

Further information regarding The Arrowsmith Program can be found in these articles:

When it comes to parents looking for the right program for their child, we know that it’s not only an important decision but its valuable time and money invested as you help your child develop into a successful individual. We simply want you to have reliable facts when making these difficult decisions.

If you or someone you know has experience with these organizations, good or bad, please comment on our blog page.

Our next blog will address proven techniques for help with dyslexia, ADHD and other learning disorders.


Turning Point Assessments




“13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: What to consider

“13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series has gained a lot of attention since its release last month. Although the goal of the series is to raise suicide prevention awareness, it’s also raising some concerns that suicide prevention experts are asking everyone to be aware of. There are some potential risks involved for vulnerable teenagers who may develop revenge fantasies or may romanticize the choices made by the characters in the series. There is also some concern over the adult characters in the show that don’t inspire a sense of trust or help and  it’s important for vulnerable teens to know that school-employed mental health professionals are available to help.

We’ve come across an article on National Association of School Psychologists’ (NASP) website that we believe is incredibly insightful and lists many considerations for educators and parents alike in discussing and/or watching this series with their children. This article offers important information for parents, teachers, and students to become aware of suicide risk warning signs, so that when they see them they can take action to help. Research shows that students who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly, so when someone does exhibit any of the warning signs, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. “Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.”

Guidance for educator’s, families, and safe messaging for students is all included in this important message in preventing youth suicide.

Click here to access the article: “13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators

To further understand how 13 Reasons Why dramatizes situations and the realities of suicide read these helpful points from and the JED Foundation


How to talk to your teenager- tips for better communication

Teenagers face many changes physically, mentally, and emotionally as they develop into young adults. In order for them to grow up they must begin to separate from their parents. This process is probably as painful for them as it is for parents, even if it doesn’t appear that way. As adolescents mature, they experience:

  • an increased need for autonomy
  • a desire for more privacy
  • a greater investment in their peers
  • a need to try on different identities
  • huge physiological changes

While all of this is occurring, parents often experience their own developmental crisis. Getting older and losing a sense of personal prowess and control. When teenagers challenge their authority, it’s common as a parent to make a last ditch effort to gain control of the situation. Unfortunately, this typically backfires as emotions run high. So, how do we talk with these seemingly unapproachable teenagers- the kids we used to know and love? And how do we get them to open up and respond?

Christine Carter, Ph.D. offers a two part article on ways you can decrease your teenager’s resistance to parental advice and other ways to get through to your adolescent. She discusses the idea of “motivational interviewing” as a way to engage with adolescents to make them feel heard, understood, and, ultimately, receptive to our wisdom.” (Carter March 25, 2013)

How to Influence Your Teen, Part 1

Ten ways to decrease their resistance to your wise advice. . . .

Influencing Teens and Tweeners, Part 2

Five more ways to get through to adolescents. . . .

Good luck!

-Turning Point Assessments

ADHD & LD APPS for learning, development, and recreation

1 kid


These days, everyone seems to have some kind of device not far away, making smartphone and tablet apps ideal tools for ADHD symptom management. If you or your child is having trouble getting through assigned work or can’t seem to focus at work or around the house, find help right on your smartphone or tablet. These apps do everything from set reminders and create to-do lists to improve concentration.

Click here: APPS FOR ADHD


teach me pic

TeachMe: Preschool and Kindergarten is an educational touch app which teaches six different age appropriate subjects to Preschool and Kindergarten aged children: sight words, addition, subtraction, spelling and now writing letters and numbers.


Reading Rockets has an extensive list of apps for reading. It is a great website for understanding and remediating reading difficulties.

Apps for the older student

2 kid

LD Reading Apps

Since reading is a portal to knowledge, students with dyslexia can be frustrated that difficulties decoding and understanding written words often get in the way of learning. Apps that read text aloud, especially those that highlight words as they go, can take decoding out of the equation and make reading a more pleasant and more productive experience. There are also apps that can read PDF documents aloud, apps that convert pictures of text to readable text through optical character recognition (OCR), and specialty apps that read text aloud using recorded human voices.


(Claro Software; iOS — $3.99)

Since PDF files are essentially images of documents, they present a problem for basic text-to-speech technology. ClaroPDF is an app that can recognize image text and read it aloud with synchronized highlighting. Unlike most OCR apps, it preserves the formatting of the original document.

Features: text-to-speech with synchronized highlighting, annotation tools, ability to add audio and video notes, Dropbox integration


(Claro Software; iOS — $3.99)

At its core, ClaroSpeak functions as a basic text-to-speech app, in which the user can change its speaking voice and adjust its reading speed. What makes it stand out are its ability to perform OCR on photos of text and its ability to save a text document as an audio file for listening on the go.

Features: text-to-speech with synchronized highlighting, OCR from text images, conversion of text documents to audio files, Dropbox integration

Google Play Books

(Google; Android — Free)

This is a great e-book app for Android devices because it integrates with the operating system’s TalkBack accessibility feature in order to provide continuous text-to-speech with synchronized highlighting. It should be noted that Google Play Books is also available for iOS devices, but that version lacks the “Read Aloud” feature present in the Android app.

Features: integrated text-to-speech (“Read Aloud”) with synchronized highlighting, annotation tools

Writing Apps

Writing can be challenging for anyone, but it can be extraordinarily problematic for students with dyslexia. Written expression can be hampered by difficulties with spelling, applying correct grammar, and remembering desired words. For mobile devices, there are apps that utilize word prediction, dictation, contextual spelling and grammar checking, and word retrieval tools to make the writing process easier.


(Don Johnston; iOS — $19.99)

One of the best tools to use for spelling assistance is word prediction. Co:Writer lets students practice their knowledge of phonics while providing an important accommodation. The app’s keyboard predicts the word a user is trying to write after only a few characters are typed. It bases its predictions on the context of particular sentences and on how well students sound out words they cannot spell correctly.

Features: flexible spelling, topic dictionaries, auditory feedback, Dropbox integration, Google Drive integration

Ginger Page

(Ginger Software; iOS — Free; Android — Free)

Sometimes, traditional spell-checkers do not catch every error in a piece of writing, such as when students use incorrect homonyms. Ginger Page is a word processing app with a contextual spelling and grammar checker. It looks at entire sentences as units while searching for errors. It also has a unique rephrasing tool that suggests better word choices for a piece of writing.

Features: contextual spell and grammar checking, rephrasing tool, text-to-speech for proofreading, integrated dictionary and thesaurus

Google Keyboard

(Google; Android — Free)

The onscreen keyboard of a mobile device is essential in the transformation of thoughts to written words. For Android users with dyslexia, the Google Keyboard provides both dictation and word prediction for spelling assistance in any app.

Features: dictation, word prediction


(Quillsoft; iOS — $24.99)

Like Co:Writer, the iWordQ app provides solid word prediction for help with spelling. Its most unique feature is that it provides usage examples for easily confused words and homonyms. It also provides a greater number of predictions than other apps — with up to nine choices accompanying each word.

Features: creative spelling, auditory feedback, usage examples, ability to export text to other apps

Keeble Keyboard

(AssistiveWare; iOS — $7.99 [back-to-school sale])

Keeble is a third-party onscreen keyboard that provides advanced word prediction with auditory feedback for iPad users. Notably, Keeble’s word prediction is self-learning and becomes more accurate over time based on an individual’s vocabulary. It can also be set for word completion, next-word prediction, or multi-word prediction, depending on a student’s writing skills.

Features: highly customizable, multiple options for word prediction and auditory feedback

SnapType Pro

(Brendan Kirchner; iOS — $3.99)

Workbooks and photocopied worksheets can be problematic for students with dyslexia. During normal OCR, the formatting is often lost for fill-in-the-blank and matching exercises, a problem that makes it difficult to use AT to insert answers. SnapType solves that problem by giving users the ability to overlay text boxes on photos of worksheets. Students can then use a keyboard to place their responses in the correct spaces.

Features: the ability to use AT to respond to worksheet questions

Voice Dream Writer

(Voice Dream; iOS — $9.99)

The Voice Dream Writer app is a writing tool that has a handful of unique features not found in other word processors. In addition to multiple options for auditory feedback as students are typing, the app allows for visual customization, including the ability to adjust spacing between characters. It also has a unique set of reference tools. Students who have difficulty recalling specific words can look these up by definition, and they can also look up words using phonetic spellings.

Features: text-to-speech proofreading, automatically-generated outlines, ability to find words by definitions and phonetic spellings

Note-Taking and Study Skills Apps

Taking effective notes in class is important for both retention of new knowledge and preparation for quizzes and tests. The most effective notes for students with dyslexia (and indeed, for all students) are multisensory in nature and often contain images and audio notes in addition to text. There are several apps that make it easier to generate multisensory notes, along with apps that can be used to create multisensory electronic flashcards that promote effective, independent study.

Flashcards Deluxe

(OrangeOrApple; iOS — $3.99, Android — $3.99)

Electronic flashcards have several advantages over traditional ones created with index cards. The biggest advantage for students with dyslexia is that they can use text-to-speech technology to study their cards independently. Flashcards Deluxe is perhaps the most full-featured flashcard app available. It has integrated text-to-speech, the ability to create more than two sides for each card, the ability add images to all sides, and multiple visual options for customization.

Features: text-to-speech, multiple card sides, integration with Quizlet, Dropbox, and Google Drive

Mental Note

(Zymbiotic Technologies; iOS — $4.99)

Mental Note is a full-featured note-taking app for Apple devices that allows students to create customized, multisensory notes. In addition to typing or dictating text, students can add voice notes, sketches, and photos.

Features: multiple visual options for notepaper, Dropbox integration, ability to protect notes with a password, ability to use tags to organize notes


(Ginger Labs; iOS — $5.99)

Notability is another option for multisensory note-taking. It is packed with features and options, including rich-text formatting, audio recording, sketching, and highlighting. In addition, students can add multiple forms of media, including photos, Web clips, and sticky notes. Completed notes can be exported to Dropbox and Google Drive and opened in other apps.

Features: audio recording, multiple options for creating and sharing multisensory notes

Multipurpose Apps

There are a handful of apps that perform multiple functions and can be used for various purposes. They include multisensory presentation apps, electronic graphic organizers, and tools that help with both reading and writing. Because they are typically more robust than the more common single-purpose apps, they can be particularly useful for students who rely on mobile devices to complete their schoolwork.

Adobe Voice

(Adobe; iOS — Free)

Adobe Voice provides an elegant alternative to traditional slideshow presentations for students with dyslexia. While the app gives the option of including written text, each presentation is based on voice narration and images. Once a series of slides is created, the app transforms it into an animated video with background music.

Features: a means of presenting information verbally, ability to save completed videos to the photos app for easy sharing

Inspiration Maps

(Inspiration Software; iOS — $9.99)

There are many uses for electronic graphic organizers, and their multisensory nature makes them ideal learning tools for students with dyslexia. Inspiration Maps makes the writing process easier and more efficient. It can also help students improve their reading comprehension and study skills. It easily converts visual diagrams to linear outlines, and the app contains many formatting options that allow users to customize their work.

Features: multiple pre-made templates, ability to create personal templates, integration with desktop Inspiration software

Kidspiration Maps

(Inspiration Software; iOS — $9.99)

Kidspiration Maps targets elementary-aged students. It shares most of the features and functionality of Inspiration Maps, but it is more visually pleasing to younger eyes. It also adds a few unique features, such as several subject-specific activity templates.

Features: multisensory graphic organizers for elementary students, activity templates

Other Dyslexia Tools and Resources

Apps to Make Worksheets Less Tedious

There are a number of free iPad apps that let kids complete paper worksheets on a tablet. Two examples are PaperPort Notes and SnapType (developed by an occupational therapist).

Here’s how these apps work: Your child takes a photo of her worksheet. She taps on the screen where she wants to add text and types in her answers. If the worksheet is multiple choice or fill-in-the blank, she can use her finger to write in words or circle the answer. When she’s finished, she can print out the photo of the worksheet.

Android users can try Samsung Galaxy Note5, which allows you to do similar things. You can upload an image of a worksheet from your camera roll and then, using a text box, write on it with your finger or a stylus.

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Chrome Tools for children with learning and attention issues

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6 Chrome Tools for Kids With Reading Issues

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7 Chrome Tools for Kids With Writing Issues

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6 Chrome Tools for Kids With Math Issues

Video: Apps for teens with organization issues

High school can be really challenging for teens with organization issues with so many assignments to keep track of. The good news is that there are apps that can help. Watch this video to see an expert’s picks for the best apps for helping teens get and stay organized.

It is unlikely that any particular student will have a need for every app we’ve listed. Since every child is different, so are their needs. Individual students will need unique sets of apps to accommodate their own language difficulties. The great thing about using smartphones and tablets is that they are customizable learning tools, and they give all students the ability to find out what works best for them.

Good luck!

-Turning Point Assessments