An Interview with Barbara Dianis: Don’t Count Me Out!

Mar 23, 2013 by

Don't Count Me Out!Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Barbara, you have just written a book about struggling students how did this come about?

As a child I was diagnosed with Dyslexia. During my own educational years I struggled in school in my early years and at various times to keep pace with the curriculum. However, I have a bright mind and wanted to become educated at the University level. Therefore, I began designing educational solutions that allowed me to make my dream of university studies possible. As I began to succeed academically despite being Dyslexic, it became my passion to help others with similar academic issues to help them reach their full academic potential.

While studying at the university level, I was named to the National Deans’ List for academic achievement. During my professional career as an educational specialist with a Pre-K-12th grade level certification I taught numerous students with academic problems to overcome them. After 21 years of helping students I wanted to provide parents, children and teenagers with a positive message of success. In addition I wanted students and their parents to have access to the educational solutions which helped me and then others reach their academic potential.

2) Often, even with the best teachers and the best parents, some students do not get diagnosed with ADD, or ADHD until they are 12 or 13. What kind of intervention should be done?

It is my professional opinion students who are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD during their early teens should be evaluated by a medical doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist to determine if medication is appropriate for the student. Also, the student’s diet should be examined in order to make sure the young teenager is not consuming too much sugar or other foods that can exasperate their ADD or ADHD symptoms. Next, external educational and focusing solutions and techniques should be taught to the ADD or ADHD student to help them manage their symptoms and improve their focus and scholastic skills. In my professional opinion whether or not an ADD or ADHD student is prescribed medication they still need to be taught educational solutions and organizational executive management skills.

3) Should the child get counseling?

ADD and ADHD students can benefit from being counseled by a trained counselor. The ADD or ADHD student can learn ways to manage peer and personal issues which may be the result of the symptoms related to their diagnoses. Students of all ages can benefit from the wisdom of a trained counselor. Therefore, if counseling is recommended by his or her school’s educational team then in my professional opinion the student may benefit from getting counseling.

4) In the 1980’s and 1990’s children with learning disabilities were often identified by testing, and a sigh of relief was heard when there finally was an explanation for the child’s difficulties. Nowadays, they have this “response to intervention “which is often ‘delaying the inevitable” How and when should a parent demand testing for their child?

A parent, in my professional opinion, should demand their child be tested if their child or teenager is performing academically six months to a year behind in their scholastic skills. In addition, if the child or teenager is failing in a class or struggling to keep up with the scholastic pace of their current curriculum then testing should be considered. The quicker intervention is provided to the struggling student generally the faster they can be remediated. Students who are functioning two years below their grade level can experience a loss in academic self-esteem and become frustrated because they are struggling to keep pace with their scholastic peers and are falling further behind in the academic skills. Children and teenagers can benefit scholastically from being equipped with educational solutions designed to help strengthen their academic areas of weaknesses as soon as educational issues surface.

5) Depression is a common problem in children and adolescents, and it may interfere with their learning. Is medication the answer or counseling and what should a parent be doing?

When a child or adolescent shows signs of depression, a parent should seek professional help from a medical doctor or psychiatrist trained in the area of childhood or adolescent depression. The underlining cause or causes for the depression the child or adolescent is experiencing should be found whether that be chemical or because of some other issue the child or teenager is experiencing. Whether medication is the answer I believe should be determined by a medical doctor or psychiatrist. Counseling should be incorporated into the child’s or adolescent’s intervention plan if deemed appropriate by the parents, doctor or school professionals.

In addition, children and teenagers who are dealing with depression may benefit from adding a daily exercise program or participating in a sports program whether team or individual. Physical activity has been proven by medical doctors to help lesson stress and release endorphins. Children and adolescents with depression may benefit from saying positive descriptive words about themselves daily. Also, students dealing with depression may benefit from increasing their participation in appropriate activities they enjoy.

6) Are there ways to measure the child’s self-esteem? What signs should a parent look for?

Measuring a child’s self-esteem can be done through testing which a psychologist, psychiatrist, or trained counselor that may be able to administer the test s to the child or teenager. Parents can look for signs which would indicate their child is frustrated, depressed, stressed, or sad. If their child does not display a happy demeanor and speaks negatively the parent may want to seek help and more information from the child’s teacher and the school’s counselor. Parents typically know their child, and if something does not seem normal in their child then seeking guidance from trained professionals mentioned above can help the parent determine what appropriate intervention may need to be given.

7) It seems the schools are attempting to decrease the number of special education referrals- what impact do you think this will have on children with real difficulties?

In America where education from grades kindergarten through twelfth grade is free over 7,000 high school age students are dropping out of school everyday according to the White House reports 2012. Many of the students dropping out of high school have experienced real learning difficulties whether they have been referred for special education or not. A larger number of the teenagers dropping out of high school have struggled in school for a period of time and choose not to complete their high school education or earn a GED. In my professional opinion the decrease of special education referrals can cause students with real scholastic difficulties to eventually give up their education, or be left with their scholastic difficulties not remediated.

Delays in referrals can cause students with real academic difficulties to become more behind scholastically because intervention was not provided at the time the student began to show true signs of struggling to keep pace with the curriculum. The longer it takes for a student with real difficulties to receive academic intervention the longer it may take for the student to begin to improve in their scholastic skills.

8) Let’s face it-Some kids like art, music, and P.E. But abhor reading and math. There may simply just be a preference for certain subject areas. How should parents handle this?

Students of all ages and grade levels generally have subjects they prefer over others. If there is an arts magnet school, magnet school, or academy school, which the student is able to attend then parents may wish to seek enrollment for their child or teenager in one that teachers to their area of interest. However, students of all ages in my professional opinion should still have to meet their state’s requirements in the other areas of study such as math, science, reading, English and history. Since children and teenagers are not able to predict the skills they will need in their future, their state level curriculum requirements should be met.

Generally, students dislike the subject area(s) that are difficult for them. In my 21 years of educating students of all ages, I can conclude from experience most students don’t dislike subjects that are easy for them. This is often the case even if they have a preference to other subjects such as art, music or P.E. Parents can help handle this type of situation by providing their child or teenager with educational solutions to help them improve in any of the fundamental scholastic areas. A parent may wish to explain to their child or teenager that everyone has to fulfill the same curriculum guidelines their state requires. Children and teenagers who learn to apply educational solutions to their scholastic subject areas which they don’t prefer can find themselves better equipped to handle their adult lives.

9) Tell us about your book and where we can find it?

Don’t Count Me Out, contains two books within one book. Book 1 details informational secrets and strategies to help children or teenagers reach their highest scholastic potential. Book 2 takes the reader from Pre-K to 12th and early college years detailing in-depth scholastic solutions to make academic success possible for those who struggle in one or all subjects areas. Within the pages are years of proven educational secrets and solutions that have transformed children and teenagers into academic winners and achievers. Don’t Count Me Out can build powerful bonds between parents, children and teenagers as they learn to understand how to alleviate educational issues during homework and study time.

Don’t Count Me Out, Chronicles twenty-one years of successful educational solutions to help students reach their full academic potential. For the first time, the book explains Dianis’s life as a former Dyslexic student and successful educational specialist through the work and techniques she created and used to restore hope, dignity, self-confidence, and ultimately academic success to those who struggled educationally in some or all fundamental areas in school Pre-K-12th. Scholastic failure or below average grades, lower test, exam, quiz scores and dropping out of school do not have to be an option for students who can now learn educational secrets and methods to help them become academic winners.

Don’t Count Me Out! can be found on, Barnes and Nook, Apple IBookstore, Ingram Catalogue, and

10) What Have I neglected to ask?

When students who are falling behind in one or more scholastic subject areas because of Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD or Struggling Students are provided with educational solutions to help them meet their learning challenges, then academic success can become possible for these children and adolescents.

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