Stowell Learning Center

ADHD or APD?

girCould Your Child’s “ADHD” actually be an Auditory Processing Disorder?

Does this describe your child?

  • Struggles to focus in a noisy environment
  • Trouble paying attention in class
  • Zones out in conversations
  • Has difficulty following directions
  • Fidgety and easily distracted
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Social, emotional, or behavioral problems
  • Lower academic performance

Sounds like ADHD, right?  But what if it’s not? 

Auditory processing is one of the many underlying learning/processing skills that are critical to learning and functioning efficiently at one’s potential.  When any of these underlying skills are weak, it can stress the attention system, mimicking ADHD.

This is particularly true with auditory processing problems.  Unfortunately, this causes many students to be misdiagnosed and not get the kind of help they really need.

An auditory processing problem is not a hearing problem.  There is nothing wrong with the ears.  But something is lost in translation.  Remember the Peanuts cartoon character who heard “Whaa Whaa Whaa” whenever the teacher spoke?  I had a student actually tell me that was what it was like for him when he tried to listen.

Auditory processing is how the brain perceives and thinks about the information coming in through the ears.  When the brain is not processing the information clearly and completely, it may be like having a bad cell phone connection.  The person is getting some of the information, but not all, so he is constantly trying to connect the dots.  He has to put an excessive amount of energy into listening and often the information does not quite make sense.

Result:  exhaustion, loss of attention, irritability or anxiousness, and confusion.

These students may spend a great deal of time feeling lost, insecure, and disconnected.  In spite of being bright and capable, they may show comprehension problems and trouble retaining information.  (Don’t we all, when we’re confused)!

Auditory Processing Challenges Can Be Corrected

Sara was pegged as having ADHD because she was constantly fiddling with things on her desk and staring straight through the teacher.  When it was time to start working, she always had to ask, “What were we supposed to do?”

Sara actually had an auditory processing problem. She started out everyday sitting tall and trying very hard to listen, but what she was hearing was spotty and inconsistent, She tried to fill-in the gaps, but pretty soon, it just didn’t make sense and she couldn’t keep her attention on it anymore.

Sara went through a program of Auditory Stimulation and Training to increase her auditory processing skills. Now, she is able to listen to her teacher and her friends without getting exhausted and missing information. She no longer feels lost and anxious and is able to be the good student she always tried to be.

Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.  The first step is identifying the real cause of the problem.  This almost always lies in the underlying learning/processing skills.  When any of these foundational skills (such as auditory processing) are weak, it can cause students to have to work harder, longer, and less successfully than they should.  These underlying skills can be developed.

If your child is struggling with attention or learning and you are ready for a real change…here is your next step:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night.

Learn what’s going on when bright kids struggle in school and what can be done to change that.

Click here for details and RSVP: Parent Info Night

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

Is Schoolwork an Endless Struggle?

When school is not going well, parents look to tutoring as a solution. But tutoring isn’t a solution. It’s a temporary band-aid that covers up a deeper problem. And very often, it doesn’t even do that.

While uninformed teachers and tutors continue to spread the myth that you just have to learn to live with learning challenges, the last 25 years of brain research say something very different.

And what science tell us is this:

With the help of specific and intensive cognitive training, most learning challenges can be dramatically improved and even permanently corrected.

That’s why at Stowell Learning Center, we don’t just tutor. We get to the root of the problem.

We work to ELIMINATE learning challenges.

girl dislike hw Thanks to recent scientific breakthroughs in brain research,  we have developed clinical, evidence-based programs that fix  underdeveloped and weak processing skills by re-training the  brain to form new neuro-pathways.

 Our programs have helped more than 4,000 children and  parents dramatically improve and even permanently correct  learning challenges, including:

-ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia
-Auditory Processing Disorders
-Poor reading, comprehension, and spelling
-Math and dyscalculia
-Weak critical thinking and organization skills
-Autism spectrum disorders and Asperger’s Syndrome

“Braden must be one of your greatest success stories!
Last year his teachers said he’d never get an A. This year he has all As and Bs.”
~Parent of a 6th Grader 

Is this program the right fit for your child? Enter your email below for a FREE assessment checklist

The truth about learning challenges:

Learning is all about processing incoming information – whether it’s a toddler picking up a cracker and finding out that it breaks in his hand or a 12th grader doing calculus.

handwriting

Comfortable, easy learning requires strong underlying learning skills like body awareness and control, attention, memory, auditory and visual processing, language comprehension, and logic and reasoning.

Learning problems are very broad. They appear different in different kids, but the one thing they all have in common is this:

Something is breaking down in the student’s ability to process information. 

Children who struggle in school typically have real strengths and weaknesses within their underlying learning skills. Since different types of tasks or activities are supported by different sets of learning skills, these students often show perplexing inconsistencies in their performance.

Here are some students we’ve met:

Sam knows all the baseball stats but can’t memorize his math facts. Keely is a smart and savvy soccer player but gets poor grades on tests. Casey is witty and clever, but can’t follow 3 directions.Michael excels in math but reads slowly and laboriously.

Sometimes, students with learning challenges appear lazy and unmotivated, when really they’re smart, hardworking, and struggling!

“Corey is a different kid. He’s out of special education and getting all As and Bs on his own. He’s in the top core group and on two sports teams at school. He always goes right in and does his homework right away. He reads all the time. We know he could never have done it without help from you. I get goosebumps just talking about it.”
 ~Parent of a 9th Grader 

Is this program the right fit for your child? Enter your email below to receive a FREE assessment checklist

How does the Stowell approach differ from tutoring?

Most schools and tutoring focus on what a student learns, including academic skills and school subjects. We focus on how a student learns. In other words, we work on repairing and building the skills every student needs to learn efficiently and independently.

The bottom three rungs of the “learning ladder” are categories of skills upon which school and tutoring depend.

chart

 Developmental Learning Skills: These are basic  visual and motor skills that help children develop a  sense of self, internal organization, and body and  attention awareness and control. Challenges in this  area might show up as follows:

 -Poor posture, awkward or uncoordinated
-Fatigue, low stamina
-Confusion with directions, spatial orientation, letter reversals

Processing Skills: These are skills such as attention, memory, auditory and visual processing (how we think about and understand things that we see or hear), processing speed, language comprehension, and phonemic awareness (the thinking process critical to reading that supports learning and using phonics). Problems in this area will show up as:
Drawing (2)

-Trouble sounding out words
-Difficulty memorizing spelling words or math facts
-Can’t remember or understand what was read
-Tired when listening, misses information
-Trouble with visual organization in charts, etc.
-Can do the work but can’t “get it together” to get the work done and turned in

Executive Function: This is our personal manager that guides and directs our attention and behavior. It helps us reason, problem solve, organize, and make decisions. Problems in this area may appear as follows:

-Poor time management or organization
-Difficulty reasoning
-Lack of tact
-Trouble getting started, poor follow through

“Coming to Stowell has helped me in math, reading, and all the rest. It has also made me a better person. I am now a more thoughtful person. Before I came to Stowell I got bad grades. Now I have improved in all subjects. My grades before were Ds. Now they are As and Bs. It makes me feel special to be known as a smart kid to other people.” 
~Brett, 5th Grade

If a 10 year old fourth grader is laboriously reading at a second grade level, something is wrong. More practice reading or someone sitting at his side helping him say the words is not going to fix this problem.

It is only by developing these areas and then remediating the basic academic skills that students can become the truly independent and comfortable learners they can and should be. Don’t let learning challenges hold your child back when there are ways to FIX them.

Is this program the right fit for your child? Enter your email below to receive a FREE assessment checklist

Brain Break

BikeFrom Break to Meltdown in 30 seconds – How Did that Happen?

At mile 20 of a 21-mile bike ride this weekend, my husband and I stopped to take a little break.  It had gotten warm and we wanted to remove a few layers.  When we started riding again, my legs let me know that “enough is enough” and I thought, “I really don’t want to ride anymore.”

It made me think about a couple of students that we tested recently whose parents reported that their kids try so hard on their homework, but have a terrible time coming back from a break.   In fact, one of the students refused to take a break, saying, “I just won’t do anything after a break.”

You would think that after all their hard work, kids would welcome a break, and I’m sure they do, but when students have dyslexia, learning disabilities, attention deficit, or other struggles in school, the amount of effort, energy, and motivation that they have to muster in order to do the task can be monumental.  Building that back up again after a break can be extremely daunting.

People Need Breaks.  Brains need breaks.

An overloaded brain is less productive, so periodic breaks are necessary for optimal performance, especially if what you are trying to do is as taxing as homework is for many of our struggling students.

As an employer, I’m required to give my staff members breaks.  So how do we give our kids a much-needed break without losing the focus, momentum, or determination that we’ve worked so hard to establish?

Try Building in Brain Breaks

Brain Breaks are not as definitive as a coffee break or a play break, which completely re-routes your focus and energy.  They can be done without ever leaving the homework space and are a quick and easy way to revive attention, mental resources, and energy.  They help students of any age get “unstuck.”

We work with students on recognizing when they need a Brain Break – when they feel too frustrated, sleepy, bored, emotional, or confused – and let them choose a brain break.

Here are some Brain Breaks that we suggest for students:

Five-Count Breath (3 – 5 times)

Student instructions:

  • Inhale slowly through your nose and count to five on your fingers.  Without holding your breath, begin exhaling slowly through your mouth in five counts as you put your fingers back down.

Deep breathing immediately forces oxygen into the brain, which improves thinking and encourages muscles to relax as they are flooded with oxygen-rich blood.

Palming (2-5 minutes)

Student instructions:

  • Warm your hands by rubbing them together briskly.
  • Softly place the heel of your hands gently over your eyes.
  • Keep your neck and back straight; shoulders relaxed. Rest your elbows on the table.
  • Breathe in and out slowly, feeling the warmth and darkness soothe the muscles of your eyes and whole body.

This is an excellent way to rest and refresh the mind and eyes.

Heart Breathing (1-5 minutes)

  • Place your attention on the area around your heart or center of the chest. It helps to put your hand over your heart area.
  • Now pretend to breathe in and out of your heart. Take three slow breaths. (This is called Heart Breathing).
  • Think of someone or something that makes you feel happy, like your mom or dad, your friends, or a special place that you like to visit. Feel that happy feeling in your heart as you do your heart breathing.

This technique is good for reducing anxiety and increasing focus and attention.

 

Brain Gym® PACE (2-5 minutes)

PACEEnergize:  Drink water (especially good for energy, test taking, productivity)

 

Clear:  Brain Buttons (increases clarity for any visual activity, reading, and thinking)PACE1

While holding navel with one hand, rub points just below the collarbone on either side of the sternum.

PACE2

 

Active:  Cross Crawls (activates the brain for reading, writing, and spelling.  Helps students get “unstuck.”)

Touch hand to opposite knee; alternate moving one arm and opposite leg.

 

Positive:  Cook’s Hook-ups  (diffuses stress, establishes positive orientation)PACE3

  1. Cross legs at ankles. Cross arms over chest or intertwine arms/hands as shown).  Sit this way for one minute, eyes closed, breathing deeply.
  1. Uncross legs, and put finger tips together, breathing deeply for another minute

For more information about Brain Gym:  www.braingym.org

 

Arm Swings (5 – 8 cycles)

Student instructions:

  • Stand barefoot with your feet about 12 – 18 inches apart.
  • Loosely swing your upper body and arms from side to side. At the furthest point in the swing, look over your shoulder.
  • Do 5 – 8 left-right cycles.

Breath Stretch (3-5 times)

Student instructions:

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose as you bring your arms up above your head and come up on your toes.
  • Hold for a slow count of 2.
  • Exhale through your mouth as you bring your arms down and come down off your toes.

 

All of us need Brain Breaks once in a while when we are working hard.  Children and teens struggling with attention or learning may need these little breaks more often, as they are exerting much more energy than their peers to do the same task. Building these little brain breaks into your homework or learning session gives students the mental break they need in order to shift into a more productive and resourceful state without the trauma of coming back after a break.

These activities are also very effective to use before going to school, starting homework, or when transitioning from one task to another.

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, learning, or attention challenges?  These challenges can be changed.  While there are no simple, overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through developing the weak underlying skills that are causing the student to struggle and remediating the affected academic areas.  Need to know more?

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

22 Simple Strategies for Supporting Students Who Struggle with Learning And Attention

helpParents and Teachers…

Do you need simple strategies that you can implement immediately to help your struggling students?

Do you wish you could help students with ADHD improve their attention?

Then save this date:  November 11, 2015 at 7 – 9 p.m.

Jill Stowell, founder and executive director of Stowell Learning Centers, Inc. will be presenting at the Orange County CHADD meeting, 22 simple, practical strategies that parents and teachers can use to help struggling students improve:

  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • Math Facts
  • Memory
  • Comprehension
  • Proofreading
  • Organization
  • Test Study
  • Independence
  • Attention

 

Where:  Stowell Learning Center, Irvine

1150 Main Street,  Suite C

Irvine, CA 91765

Phone:  949-477-4133

 

When:  Wednesday November 11,2015

7 – 9 p.m.

 

Meetings are NO COST and open to the public. You do not have to be a CHADD member to attend.

For more information contact ADHDmeeting@pacbell.net or call 714-490-7022

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for individuals with ADHD, their families and professionals. Over 200 local chapters across the U.S. offer support for individuals, parents, teachers, and professionals. NO COST monthly support group meetings provide a forum for continuing education for parents and professionals interested in learning more about ADHD in children and adults.
For more information about CHADD NATIONAL, please visit: www.chadd.org.
For more information on your Greater Orange County CHADD Chapter, please visit: greaterOCchadd.org CHADD does NOT endorse any one treatment, medication, provider, publication, service or product.

Clinical Openings for our Chino and Irvine Centers!

90We are looking for quick learners who love kids, love working with people, and who want to make a real difference for students who struggle.  We may be looking for YOU!

Clinical Openings for our Chino and Irvine centers:  Clinicians needed to provide specialized one-to-one instruction for students with dyslexia and other learning and attention challenges.

Permanent part-time position with the possibility of full time.  Must love learning, working with people, and being a part of a team.

Requirements:

  • Availability M – TH 2 – 7 and Fridays 1 – 7; Saturday hours desirable
  • Junior level or above in college
  • Interest, experience, or education in psychology, child development, education, speech/language, or compatible field

Due to the extensive training provided we do expect an individual to make a minimum of a one-year commitment, though certainly we would prefer longer.

Stowell Learning Center is a national training center for numerous cutting edge programs for educators and therapists. Clinicians gain the benefit of this highly sought after training and get paid for it!

If you are interested in our clinical staff position, please email your resume and cover letter to:

CHINO:  lorena@learningdisability.com  (Lorena Ghale, Clinical Director)

IRVINE:  briana@learningdisability.com  (Briana Alejo, Interim Clinical Director)

Parent Education Classes and Registration

Need strategies for helping your child with homework or schoolwork?  Check out these Parent Education Classes held at SLC Chino. For more information and steps to register: click, download and print from the link below!

Parent Education Classes and Registration

DYSLEXIA or ADHD?

Image from www.health.com

Image from www.health.com

Inattention is often the first and most obvious symptom seen by teachers when children struggle in school.

This drives parents to their healthcare providers with the question, “Does my child have ADHD?”

The challenge behind this question is that inattention, squirming in the chair, staring into space, slow to get started on tasks, poor listening, and taking forever to complete homework can be the result of ADD/ADHD, but can even more often be symptoms of dyslexia or other learning problems.

Dyslexic students are often misunderstood at school.  Some are so verbal and charming, that only their parents know how much they are struggling and how much effort and time it takes for them to read and write.  At school, they may be perceived as bright verbal students who don’t always put in their best effort on schoolwork.

Sometimes, a student’s skills are just strong enough that no one realizes that there’s a reading problem. The letters and words may be hard to look at and the sounds don’t really make sense, but he uses his powers of deduction from pictures, his own knowledge, and what he’s memorized from group reading to basically figure out what the page might say and answer the questions.  But often, his mind drifts away from this taxing process and so he’s been pegged as ADD.  And, after all, what he can create in his mind is far more entertaining than a jumble of words and letters that don’t really make sense.

Weak underlying learning/processing skills can cause smart students to struggle in school.  In the case of dyslexia, the underlying skills specifically relate to being able to process the sounds in words and neuro-timing differences, which can trigger typical dyslexic symptoms and disorientation on the page.

It is hard to pay attention when confused or when information doesn’t make sense, as is so often the case for dyslexic students. However, the attention challenges experienced by dyslexic learners, which are so evident in relation to schoolwork and homework, are not generally pervasive, as in the case with true ADD/ADHD.

While every dyslexic student is different, common characteristics include:

  • Good intelligence
  • Good comprehension
  • Strong ability to visualize pictures / real things (versus letters and words)
  • Creative thinker
  • Weak ability to retain an accurate image of words (sight words for reading and spelling)
  • Weak phonemic awareness (ability to think about the sounds in words)
  • Extremely poor decoding skills (sounding out words)
  • Visual disorientation when looking at the page (i.e. letters look 3D, wiggle, pulsate, or move around on the page)
  • Family history of dyslexia
  • Strong talents in other areas such as math, arts, mechanical, or athletic abilities

It is commonly believed that dyslexia cannot be corrected – that you just have to cope with it.  This is simply not true.  ADD meds will not solve dyslexic challenges, but retraining the auditory and visual systems to process the sounds and letters on the page accurately get the brain ready to learn, retain, and comfortably use reading and spelling skills.  Dyslexia and learning challenges can be changed – permanently!

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with learning or attention?  Are you ready for a change?  Here’s your next step:

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Teas, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

 

“Mom, I Need Adderall”

adA parent recently shared with me that her high school son came home from school one day saying, “Mom, I need Adderall.”  Adderall is a medication commonly used to manage Attention Deficit Disorder / ADHD.

It’s easy to blame attention for students’ struggles in school because that’s often what it looks like in class and certainly with homework where there are so many ways for kids to distract themselves.

But is attention the real culprit, or is the attention loss a symptom?

Have you ever had to carry on a conversation in a very noisy restaurant?  Or had a bad cell phone connection?  Have you tried to understand instructions given by someone with an accent very different from yours, making it hard for you to decipher?

Any of those situations make it harder to listen and understand.  This means you have to work very hard to get the information and are probably putting a lot of energy into connecting the dots.  At some point, the information becomes a bit hazy, and pretty soon, you’ve lost the thread of the conversation or lecture and your attention begins to drift.  Do you have ADHD?

What you’re experiencing in these situations is a lot like what a person with an auditory processing problem experiences all day long.  One of the symptoms is loss of attention.  When we can’t understand, we begin to tune out.

Weak or inefficient underlying processing skills will affect attention, stamina, and performance.

We had a student once who saw the white spaces between the words much more prominently than the words when looking at the page.

An adult student once shared that punctuation marks and little words like the, of, and if floated around the page like gnats, making it extremely taxing to read.

Keeping up with the expectations and pace of the classroom requires a strong and automatic set of underlying processing/learning skills.  Attention and energy should not need to be funneled off in order to sit still, look at the teacher, listen, make sense of what you’re seeing on the page, read, write, remember, or comprehend.

When underlying processing/learning skills such as memory, focus, auditory and visual processing, language comprehension, phonemic awareness, and sensorimotor integration are not automatic, attention will be stressed and academics will be affected.

Brain research in neuroplasticity and our 30 years of experience with thousands of children and adults with learning and attention challenges shows that these underlying skills can be developed to an automatic level.  Learning and attention challenges can change – permanently.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with learning or attention?  Are you ready for a change?  Here’s your next step.

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

If you’re feeling alone as a parent trying to help your struggling student, we have a FREE parent support group (P.E.A.C.E.) that’s just for you.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

Life with an Auditory Processing Disorder Sounds Different

This is a big week for my family.  My son is getting married on Saturday and we couldn’t be more delighted!0

As I was thinking about the upcoming reception, I remembered the mom of one of our students trying to describe to me what she thought it must be like for her son.  She said, “Have you ever been to a wedding and you’re staring right at someone, but hearing all the conversations around you and not hearing what the person you’re talking to is saying?  I think that’s what my son experiences all the time.”

A friend once told me that her adult son with auditory processing problems said that  listening was so taking for him, that after a one-hour meeting at work, he was “done” for the day.  He was so exhausted that he would literally have to lie down on the floor of his office and take a nap.

09Last week, a mom walked into the Learning Center looking for help for her 5 year old son who had very limited language and couldn’t understand much of what was said to him unless it was paired with visual signs and gestures.  Her little boy was smart, engaging, and did not have hearing loss.  He had been assessed twice for autism and found not to have it.  She described how he sometimes sang songs that he heard on his videos but he would leave sounds out of words every time he sang them.  I strongly suspect that this child has an auditory processing disorder and we referred him to an audiologist who tests for auditory processing disorder.  (reference below)

Karen Foli, author and mother of a child with a severe auditory processing disorder, described it as “listening to sound through water.”

I think the best way for those of us with intact auditory systems to get our minds around what it might be like to have an auditory processing problem is to think about a bad cell phone connection.  There’s nothing wrong with your ears, but the signal or the input you’re getting is not clear and complete.  You get some of the information, but there are gaps so your mind is racing to try to connect the dots.

You press the phone hard to your ear, trying so hard to listen, but pretty soon, you’ve lost the thread of the conversation, your attention is drifting, and you’re feeling irritable and frustrated.  And you say, “You’re cutting out.  Let me call you back.”

But what if this was your life all day everyday, and there’s no “hanging up and calling back?”  Children and adults with auditory processing disorder or even auditory processing inefficiencies often end up being labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder/ADHD.  They experience a great deal of overwhelm and anxiety.   It may affect their comprehension, learning, and social skills.  They feel lost, all because their auditory system is not providing them with clear, complete, and accurate information to think with.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS!  The auditory system is dynamic.  It can be retrained to process a full range of sound frequencies, to tune-in to important information, and tune-out the background noise.  It can be stimulated to organize and decode the information coming in through the ears.  It can get a more accurate and complete message.  And with a better message comes better responses and learning.

Need to know more?  JOIN US for a FREE Parent/Adult Information Night at Stowell Learning Center in Chino or Irvine, CA.

Go to www.LearningDisability.com for details and RSVP.

 

Helpful Resources:

At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities by Jill Stowell

Like Sound Through Water by Karen Foli 

When the Brain Can’t Hear by Teri Bellis

 

Excellent Audiologist who specializes in Auditory Processing Disorder (C)APD:

Balance & Hearing Specialty Group
Dr. Pam Best
844-APD-TEAM
161 Thunder Drive, Suite 104
Vista, CA  92083

Life with an Auditory Processing Disorder Sounds Different thumbnail

ADHD

adhdI’m Not Losing Focus On Purpose!

“Today was the best parent-teacher conference we’ve ever had!”

Last week I heard a parent share this in our waiting room.  Fabulous!  The parent felt like celebrating instead of crying!

The child in question is a smart, delightful girl who displayed one of the most dramatic attention challenges I had ever seen during her assessment.  She was absolutely everywhere both physically and mentally.

When you can’t keep your body in one place, when you notice absolutely everything around you, when your mind is racing so fast that you miss most of what is said to you by a parent or teacher, it’s pretty hard to focus on homework or show how smart you really are.

Attention challenges often have their root in weak neurodevelopmental learning skills.  At the foundation of our nervous system are reflexes.  These reflexes need to be integrated or working properly, meaning that they are firing when needed and not firing when no longer needed.

In the first 9 months to 3 ½ years of life, the primitive reflexes that were necessary for birthing and survival as an infant are gradually integrated as more mature motor abilities and higher-level functions in the brain take over.  These neurological connections provide a critical foundation for internal organization and comfortable learning and functioning.  When primitive reflexes are retained, they can cause neurological interference, like roadblocks, to efficient learning and functioning.  They can create tremendous stress on the attention system.

Many attention challenges are more the symptom of stressed underlying learning skills than the actual root of the problem.  A person with weak auditory, visual, or language skills will struggle to get clear and accurate information when listening or reading.  Imagine how hard it would be to pay attention if:

  • Most of what you heard sounded like you were on a bad cell phone connection,
  • The words on the page seemed to move around, or
  • It felt like you were listening to a foreign language that you didn’t really understand when listening or reading.

What we know about attention, both from experience and the clinical research and literature on the subject, is that strengthening the weak underlying learning skills can dramatically impact attention.  The brain can develop new, more efficient connections or neuropathways and attention and learning skills can change.

It’s that kind of training that allows parents to leave a parent-teacher conference with smiles instead of tears.

Sometimes biochemistry is a factor in an attention challenge.  When that’s the case,  the solution will usually need to include a biochemical intervention (medication, supplements, and/or diet) as well as addressing any weak underlying learning skills and doing some specific attention training.

Hang in there parents, greater independence and better conferences are possible!

For more information about your child’s learning or attention problem and what can be done to make permanent changes…

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Meeting.  Go to www.learningdisability.com for details and RSVP.

DYSLEXIA or ADHD?

1

Image Source: www.health.com

We tested two boys last week with very similar learning strengths and challenges.  In testing, they both had good attention, but one became squirmy in his chair whenever he had to read.

The squirmy little guy had been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity).  He was never a problem in class, but was reported to spend time staring off into space when he was supposed to be reading or doing seatwork.

Medication had been prescribed, but his parents opted not to use it, as they weren’t convinced that ADD was the real problem.

Most likely, these parents were right on target.  Both of the boys we assessed last week showed strong dyslexic symptoms and had a family history of dyslexia and reading challenges.  Their symptoms included:

  • Good intelligence
  • Good comprehension
  • Strong ability to visualize pictures / real things (versus letters and words)
  • Creative thinker
  • Weak ability to retain an accurate image of words (sight words for reading and spelling)
  • Weak phonemic awareness (ability to think about the sounds in words)
  • Extremely poor decoding skills (sounding out words)
  • Visual disorientation when looking at the page (One boy said the letters looked 3D.  One said the letters got “bigger and smaller.”)

Like many dyslexic students, these boys are misunderstood at school.  One is so verbal and charming, that only his parents know how much he is struggling and how much effort and time it takes for him to read and write.  At school, he is perceived as a bright verbal child who doesn’t always put in his best effort on schoolwork.

The second boy is just young enough and his skills are just strong enough that no one (except his parents) believes that there’s a reading problem.  When he looks at the page, the letters and words are hard to look at and the sounds don’t really make sense.  He uses his powers of deduction from pictures, his own knowledge, and what he’s memorized from group reading to basically figure out what the page might say and answer the questions.  But often, his mind drifts away from this taxing process and so he’s been pegged as ADD.  And, after all, what he can create in his mind is far more entertaining than a jumble of words and letters that don’t really make sense.

Weak underlying learning/processing skills can cause smart students to struggle in school.  In the case of our two boys, the underlying skills specifically relate to being able to process the sounds in words and neuro-timing (which can trigger typical dyslexic symptoms and disorientation on the page when off).    The encouraging thing is that these underlying skills can be developed.  The brain is amazing and really can develop new, more efficient neuro-pathways through training.

Having a family history of dyslexia, the parents of the two boys have always heard that dyslexia cannot be corrected – that you just have to cope with it.  This is simply not true.  ADD meds will not solve dyslexic challenges, but retraining the auditory and visual systems to process the sounds and letters on the page accurately get the brain ready to learn, retain, and comfortably use reading and spelling skills.

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