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The Siena School Blog

Discover, Learn, Celebrate, and Empower

Welcome to Siena's blog, your source for helpful, cutting-edge resources tailored to teachers, parents, and other advocates in the learning differences community. We are dedicated to providing a wealth of curated knowledge spanning various topics, ranging from dyslexia advocacy and awareness to classroom teaching strategies, heritage month profiles, and social and emotional health.


Posts Tagged "dyslexia~accommodations"

Common Acronyms in LD Education: Understanding the Language

October 03, 2023
By Joe Fruscione, Communications, Content, and Advancement Coordinator

Every professional field has its own lingo, and special education is no exception. As part of Dyslexia Awareness Month 2023, Siena is pleased to offer a short, useful guide to terms that parents will read and hear often as they navigate their child’s education.

Terms such as LD (Learning Differences), IEP (Individualized Education Program), LBLD (Language-Based Learning Differences), and SLD (Specific Learning Disability/Disorder) are common. Parents could hear these often when first connecting with an admissions representative or learning specialist, as well as when going through testing, the IEP process, and discussions with friends and neighbors..

Parents new to the LD community might be wondering about understanding the process and language around an LD diagnosis as they take the appropriate next steps.  

Common Terms in the LD Community

Acronyms in the LD community are a useful shorthand for frequently used terms that are integral to the process. This helps make conversations more fluid and understandable during key times, such as:

  • neuropsychological evaluation, 
  • IEP consultation,
  • meeting with teachers or administrators 
  • school admissions materials, and
  • discovery call or tour with an admissions team member.

Parents might talk with various specialists, school administrators, advocates, and so on, and having a shared language means having a shared understanding during such an important time. Here are some commonly used acronyms in LD education: 

Testing and Diagnosis


Twice Exceptional


504 Individual Education Plan


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


Auditory Processing Disorder


Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


Executive Functioning


Gifted and Talented/Learning Difference


Language-Based Learning Differences


Orton-Gillingham reading method


Other Health Impaired


Multisensory Math


Specific Learning Disability


Speech-Language Impairment


Speech Language Pathologist or Structured Literacy Program


Wechsler Individual Achievement Test


Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children


Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery

Accommodations and Supports


Assistive Technology


DC Capital Area Branch of the International Dyslexia Association


Extended School Year Services


International Dyslexia Association


Individualized Education Program


Learning Disabilities Association


Occupational Therapy


Washington Independent Services for Educational Resources

 Dyslexia Resources for Families

Families in the LD community can also visit Siena’s resources page, student profile, and glossary of terms for additional help. The Siena blog has several posts for parents and community, including ones about the importance of early dyslexia diagnosis and intervention and building confidence in LD students.  

The Siena School, a national leader in dyslexia education, serves bright, college-bound students with language-based learning differences on campuses in Silver Spring, MD (grades 3-12) and Oakton, VA (grades 3-11). 

Lessons in Dyslexia Advocacy from Siena Alumni

October 03, 2022
By Joe Fruscione, Communications, Content, and Advancement Coordinator

There are certain challenges that come with being a student with dyslexia. There are also challenges to being a new student. The reason I can relate to what current students are doing/thinking/feeling is because I did it/thought it/felt it all too. —Meribor Matusow (Siena ‘18), Events Coordinator

As part of Dyslexia Awareness Month, Siena is again reflecting on the strategies we regularly adopt to support our students’ different learning styles.

Students at both our Silver Spring and Northern Virginia campuses have access to models of success and resources every day to enhance their learning and dyslexia advocacy, such as daily slides highlighting notable people with dyslexia, assistive technology, and a regular emphasis on self-advocacy.

A relatively new model of success that Siena students have access to is Siena alumni who’ve returned to the community as paraeducators or staff. There are currently four alumni who work regularly at Siena: Perry Singletary (Class of 2011) and Ryan Salomon (Class of 2012) are paraeducators at Siena Silver Spring, Brandon Butsavage (Class of 2016) is Office Manager at Siena Northern Virginia, and Meribor Matusow (Class of 2018) is Events Coordinator at Siena Silver Spring. 

In making the transition from Siena students to Siena staff, these alumni regularly model success for students while also providing an additional layer of understanding as former students.

Dyslexia Accommodations for Students

Siena is there to provide a mentor-mentee relationship where it’s tailored toward the needs of the student and their learning differences. I know that personally because it was 9 years as a student for me. —Brandon Butsavage (Siena ‘16), Office Manager

A particular benefit of alumni working at Siena is that they can see aspects of themselves in current students. “Every student reminds me either of a classmate or of myself,” Brandon Butsavage recently shared, underscoring the unique perspective that Siena alumni bring to their interactions with current students.

Paraeducator Ryan Salomon has applied his experience as a Siena student to his current work in the classroom and in after school. “I understand how Siena teaches and how our students learn best,” he shared. Salomon credits his awareness of how to keep students engaged and focused to his years as a Siena student who had to learn how to do the same. When helping elementary students with their homework during after school, for example, Salomon has applied some methods for spelling and sounding out words that he learned as a student.

Similarly, Perry Singletary recently gave elementary student Grayer a lesson in discovering how he learns best in math class. Having worked with elementary students in previous jobs, Singletary is now a paraeducator with Siena’s elementary team. When Grayer couldn’t quite figure out an addition problem in Prodigy, Singletary shared, “I realized how I could help him through the process because he was doing something similar to what I did as a student—and still do now.”

Instead of trying to do the math problem horizontally on the laptop screen, Singletary rewrote the problem vertically on a whiteboard to show Grayer a different way of seeing—and then solving—it that worked for him. Once they worked together to break down the problem on the whiteboard, Grayer went back to Prodigy to enter the solution.

Using a multisensory accommodation helped Singletary lead Grayer through the mathematical process because the same approach has worked for her in the past.

Dyslexia Advocacy for Students

Recently, Singletary also helped give 4th grader Sofia a lesson in self-advocacy. Sofia was hesitant to ask questions in class because she was worried about being wrong or being the only student who didn’t know the answer. “I reminded her that no question is a bad question—especially at a school like Siena,” Singletary noted.

In this video about his own dyslexia advocacy, alumnus Partha Roy (Siena ‘18) shares how he applied the tools he learned as a Siena student while he was in college. (Roy recently graduated magna cum laude from Eastern Mennonite University.)

Like Roy, Meribor Matusow has continued to apply the lessons in self-advocacy she learned as a student. “Modeling success as someone with dyslexia isn’t about how fast/well I can read and write now,” she shared. “It’s about being able to go into life as an adult and find or create accommodations that I need to be successful.”

Resources for Dyslexia Advocacy and Accommodations

As Siena staff members, these four Siena alumni regularly teach students lessons in accommodations and self-advocacy, as well as model success for life after graduation.

This blog post on dyslexia advocacy and accommodations from Dyslexia Awareness Month 2021 highlights the assistive tools, support networks, and principles of self-advocacy students have access to. Learn more about self-advocacy at Siena and Siena’s alumni community on our website.

Siena’s mission-focused innovative dyslexia education is designed for students in grades 3-12 with language-based learning differences on campuses in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Oakton, Virginia.

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