Stowell Learning Center

3 Reasons Why Your Child’s Attention Problem Might NOT Be ADHD (Part 2)

What’s really going on when smart kids struggle to pay attention in school? What could be causing your child’s attention problem?

Last week we introduced 3 students who struggle to pay attention in school.

Jeremy’s constant wiggling not only keeps him from getting his work done, but is a real distraction to his classmates.

Manny is driving his teacher crazy (and subsequently his mom, too) because he’s clearly smart, but “chooses” to entertain the class rather than do his own work.

Sara’s teacher reports that she daydreams and simply doesn’t listen, and as a result, never knows what to do.

3 Students – 3 Different Learning Challenges Affecting Attention

Jeremy can’t sit still in his chair because of a retained primitive reflex called the Spinal Galant. 

Primitive reflexes are involuntary movements that are present in infants to help with the birthing process and adaptation as a newborn. If these reflexes don’t “disappear” within about the first year of life, they will continue to fire and cause neurological interference that can get in the way of efficient development and easy learning. This is called neurodevelopmental delay.

Jeremy’s retained Spinal Gallant reflex causes him to wiggle in his chair when he doesn’t mean to. When he tries hard to sit still, it takes all of his attention, so he can’t really think about what the teacher is saying or what he’s supposed to be doing on his assignments.

Manny is dyslexic. He’s very smart and very clever. He has memorized some words, but he can’t sound out new words and sometimes when he looks at the page, it seems like the words and letters are moving around. At nine-years-old, he’s already figured out that getting in trouble for “entertaining” his neighbors is better than anyone knowing he can’t read.



Sara has an auditory processing problem. She tries so hard to listen, but what she’s hearing is spotty and inconsistent, like a bad cell phone connection. She tries to fill-in the gaps, but pretty soon, it just doesn’t make sense and she can’t keep her attention on it anymore. 



Can These Challenges Be Fixed?

Weak or inefficient underlying learning/processing skills such as Jeremy’s neurodevelopmental delays, Manny’s challenges with visual and auditory processing skills related to reading, and Sara’s auditory processing problem, will stress the attention system. In class and during homework, this easily looks like an attention problem – even ADD or ADHD. But the attention problem is really just a symptom of weak underlying skills.

Here’s the great news: These underlying skills can be developed. Addressing the root cause of the poor attention symptom can eliminate the problem.

Is There Such a Thing As ADHD?

Yes, I believe that there are children and adults who truly have ADD or ADHD – an actual biochemical attention deficit. We just want to be careful not to assume that every student who struggles to pay attention in class has this diagnosis. The behaviors in class often look the same and as a result, far too many children end up on medication.

Because there does appear to be a biochemical component to a true attention deficit, we find that the best kind of treatment is a combination of attention focus training and addressing the biochemistry. Many of our clients are very successfully able to do this through diet and natural supplements.

Take a Walk in Their Shoes

Empathy is a first great step in understanding and helping students with learning and attention challenges. Here’s your chance. JOIN US for our upcoming simulations.

▪ Attention Challenges Simulation – April 13, 2013 – Irvine, CA
▪ Dyslexia Simulation – April 20, 2013 – Chino, CA

Go to www.learningdisability.com for info and RSVP

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