Expert Interviews

Dr. Kari Miller, PhD
“Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of expert advice in the field of parenting, education, advocacy, and straightforward information about special kids, their education, and their future that you will find anywhere on the web!”




Dear Parent,

I’m pleased to have put together a powerful collection of expert interviews for you. You can easily access these very special recordings by clicking on the link below.

Access the interviews here.

Here’s to your child’s SUCCESS!

Dr. Kari Miller


Summer reading and writing activities for reluctant readers

Children more easily find joy in reading when they can pursue their areas of personal interest and passion.

Summer is a great time to encourage your special needs child to develop a love of reading.  Children more easily find joy in reading when they can pursue their areas of personal interest and passion.  The following tips unleash a child’s passion for literacy.

Summer book club (3rd through 8th grade)

Form a book club with several of your child’s friends.  For each selection, let them choose from among three books that you’ve prescreened based on the group member’s interests.  Meet every week to discuss the book.  For younger children’s groups, some of the meeting can be devoted to hearing the book read aloud by a parent.  When the group finishes the book, connect to the plot, theme or setting of the story with a follow up activity. Read more

Reading Comprehension Strategies That Work: Anchoring Visualizations

reading comprehension strategies - anchoring visualizationsSome kids have trouble with reading comprehension. There can be many reasons they have difficulty, but one of the main causes of reading comprehension problems is that students do not create vivid images as they read.

In my educational therapy practice, I often listen to students read. Some students have difficulty with word recognition, but many do not. When your child has little or no difficulty sounding out the words in the passage, but still has comprehension difficulty, the problem may be that he or she is not skillful with visual imagery. And even if your child does have trouble sounding out words, he may still have difficulty with comprehension as well.

Researchers have noticed that students are not as adept at making pictures in their minds of the material they hear or read as they were years ago. Perhaps the explosion of visual images all around us has a lot to do with that. Kids are “fed” visual images from television, movies, magazines, and billboards. They may not be getting as much practice in generating their own images. Read more

Dyslexia Is Heartbreaking

Is this your child’s struggle too?

does your child struggle with dyslexiaMark was born in 1964.  He had a hard time learning the alphabet and forming the letters in his name.  In elementary school, his classmates made fun of him and his teachers lost patience.  In the 1970’s kids were labeled “lazy,” “unmotivated,” or “stupid” if they had trouble learning to read.  Unfortunately, in 2010, that hasn’t really changed.

Mark had so much trouble learning to read, he eventually gave up.  He dropped out of high school when he was 17 and got a job at a gas station.  In 2010, the dropout rate for students with dyslexia is twice the rate it is for other students.  Thirty-six percent of students with dyslexia drop out of high school.

Mark could easily remember everything he heard, even very complicated material.  But Mark never learned to read above a third grade level.  In the 1970’s and early 1980’s there were few services for kids with dyslexia.  In fact, in 2010, 95% of students with dyslexia don’t receive appropriate reading services.

Mark really wanted to go to college, but it wasn’t to be.  In 2010, most kids with dyslexia don’t graduate from college.

Mark now works in the maintenance department of a large shopping center.  He is a master at fixing cars and trucks, electrical wiring, and leaking roofs.  He has never read a direction manual; he just digs in and gets the job done.  He supports his family—his wife Sheryl, his daughter Michelle and son Scott.  He’s lucky:  about 6% of the population has dyslexia, but about 80% of individuals in prison have reading and writing problems.

We know a lot more in 2010 about teaching individuals with dyslexia how to read, write and communicate their brilliant ideas than we did in 1970.

If your child has dyslexia, you want to know what you can do to help your child.  I want to share what I know with you.  Here are three things you can do:

  • Listen to my blogtalk radio show on October 3rd.  Get more details here.  You can call in with questions.
  • Click the links below to read articles I’ve posted on my blog.
  • If you need more help after listening and reading, contact me to schedule a consultation and we can get into more detail about your child’s needs.

The reading process: Research supported teaching strategies

The Reading Process

Reading is a highly complex, integrated activity that daunts as many as 33 percent of the population.

Many children become proficient readers regardless of how they are taught. However, for children who experience difficulty learning to gain meaning from print, reading must be systematically and carefully taught.  Mastering the following components of the reading process is essential if students are to become proficient readers.

Appreciation and enthusiasm for reading
It comes as no surprise that children who are passionate about reading are more skillful readers.  Reading is more exciting to students when students are:

* Read to frequently
* Allowed to choose their reading material
* Exposed to a wide variety of interesting reading materials
Read more

Effective reading comprehension techniques: Clicks and Clunks

effective reading comprehension techniques - clicks and clunksThe “clicks and clunks” technique was originally introduced by Christine D. Bremer, Sharon Vaughn, Ann T. Clapper, and Ae-Hwa Kim in 2002.  Read their original article here.

When it “Clicks,” all is well in the world of decoding and easy comprehension. Reading is a joyful way to explore the world!

But when students encounter parts of the text that are not understood, they “Clunk!” and the reading process slows down.

Students can learn to recognize when their reading is Clicking and when they have encountered a Clunk.

When the Clunk is due to unknown words, follow these simple and effective steps to return to Click mode.

  • Reread the sentence with the clunk.
  • For more difficult material, reread the sentence before the clunk, the sentence containing the clunk, and the sentence after the clunk.
  • Ask the student to substitute a word for the clunk word that might make sense in the context and continue reading. The student will usually be able to confirm the prediction with further reading.
  • Substitute a word such as “candy” for the unknown word!  Not only will this keep the flow of the reading going, but it will also lesson the student’s discomfort as a smile and chuckle result.
  • Mark the clunks in the margin — repair by looking up in a dictionary.
  • Keep a dictionary of clunks, using them in future writing assignments.

Read more about research-supported reading teaching strategies.

* Photo courtesy of

Effective reading comprehension techniques: F.A.C.T. Mnemonic

Effective reading comprehension techniques: F.A.C.T. MnemonicA mnemonic, (pronounced ni-mon’-ik) is a device used as a memory aid.

The F.A.C.T. mnemonic helps students organize and remember important comprehension strategies. The letters in F.A.C.T. stand for effective, research supported strategies that support comprehension:  Focus, Ask questions, Connect, and Turn on the visuals.


Comprehension is only as strong as the student’s focus while reading.  Encourage focus by using your child’s imagination and interests. Here’s some suggestions:
• Your child can read aloud to himself with a “cool” accent.
• Students who like to dance can think about how to choreograph the action.
• Students can summarize the material to a friend, a pet or a toy!
• Draw a picture, take notes, develop an outline or draw a concept map.

Ask questions:

Teach your child to ask herself questions as she reads. This builds attention, focus, commitment and memory for details.

Here are examples of general questions:
• Who or what is this about?
• What is the most important thing about this who or what?
• Do I know anything about this?
• What does this remind me of?
• What will the teacher ask us on the test?

Students can also be taught to turn section headings into questions. For example, if the title of the section in the science book is “Cellular Respiration,” teach your child to turn this into a question such as, “What is cellular respiration?” or “What are the important facts about cellular respiration?”
Read more