Stowell Learning Center

Good Teachers. Creative Techniques. Why Doesn’t my Kid Remember?

mar“After many preparations, we are ready for the marriage of Q and U!”

When I read this post by a friend who is a  kindergarten teacher, I thought, “What a clever way to teach the concept that q is always followed by u.  Kids will remember that!”

But some kids won’t.

Why is it that in spite of good intelligence, supportive parents, good teachers, and creative teaching techniques, some kids struggle to learn and others don’t?

The answer is, they bring a different set of mental tools to the task.  The school skills we all think of – learning to read, write, spell, and do math  – rely on a foundation of learning skills, or what you might think of as mental tools.

If any of the underlying learning skills are weak or not fully developed, it can cause learning to be harder than it should be.

These are skills such as:

  • Developmental motor skills that allow students to sit still, coordinate their movements, and use their eyes and hands together
  • Auditory and visual processing that allow students to accurately perceive information that they hear and see
  • Memory, attention, and processing speed that allow them to get, hold onto, think about, and respond to information quickly
  • Spatial orientation and organization that allow students to discriminate between letters and words that look similar, understand how math is laid out on the page, and see the organization in textbooks and planners
  • Language processing and comprehension that allow them to understand what they read and hear and express their ideas clearly
  • Reasoning, problem-solving, and higher level organization that allow students to manage their own attention and behavior

Students who have weaknesses in one or more of these areas often have to work harder and longer than their peers in school.  If there are several areas of weakness or one or two areas that are very weak, the student may end up with real challenges with reading, spelling, writing, and/or math.

This doesn’t mean they’re not smart, lazy, or unmotivated.

It means that key underlying learning skills are not supporting them well enough.

Important research starting as far back as the 1950s and 1970s showed us that underlying learning skills can be developed so that smart but struggling students can stop struggling.  Brain plasticity research in the last 30 years has begun to reveal the amazing capacity of the brain to rewire itself for more efficient learning through specific and targeted training.

If you have a smart but struggling learner in your family (child or adult), chances are that the challenges can be dramatically improved or completely and permanently corrected.

To learn more:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night

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

Why isn’t EVERYBODY Talking about Auditory Processing?

kghI am continually astounded when I hear from many speech/language therapists and reading specialists that they know little to nothing about auditory processing.  How can that be when auditory processing is the very foundation of language and reading?

Skills like speaking, reading, and other academic skills are like the branches and leaves of a tree.  They are the most obvious, noticeable part.  But a tree will not survive without a good root system and trunk to carry the nutrients.

Learning of any kind also needs a “root system” and truck.  The information coming in through the senses has to be perceived, processed, and organized correctly in order to use it for learning.  In the case of both language and reading, the root system or foundation is auditory processing.

It’s Hard to Get the Message When

You Have A Bad Connection

Perhaps the best way to understand the ramifications of an auditory processing problem is to think about what it is like to be in an important conversation with a bad cell phone connection. You find yourself having to listen extremely hard, and any extra noise around you becomes irritating and hard to block out.

Because the signal is not clear, you miss part of what the speaker is saying and you find yourself saying, “What did you say?” and struggling to fill-in the gaps.

You’re not exactly sure what the speaker said, but you don’t want to sound stupid or uninterested, so you make what you think is an appropriate response. Oops! That backfired. Now you have to explain about the bad connection and why you misinterpreted what they said and made an “off-the-wall” response.

You don’t quite understand the speaker, yet when you have a clear connection, you have no problem with comprehension.

It’s taking so much energy to keep up with this conversation, that you find your attention drifting. You’re feeling distracted and frustrated, and important or not, you just want to get off the phone!

Luckily for cell phone users, the way to a better connection is to hang-up and try again.

But for students with auditory processing challenges, this is life.  Poor or inconsistent auditory input can affect, among other things:

  • Listening
  • Following directions
  • Comprehension
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • Articulation and pronunciation
  • Vocabulary
  • Conversation and social skills
  • Intonation and verbal expression
  • Sense of well-being.

Children and adults with auditory processing challenges may find listening exhausting and simply cannot keep it up for long.  As a result they may look unmotivated or like they have attention deficit. They may feel lost and anxious.

Reading and spelling have a direct correlation to phonological awareness – the auditory processing skill that allows the person to think about the number, order, and identity of sounds inside of words and the sound groupings that make up common patterns in the language.

When students are struggling to speak clearly and accurately, use appropriate intonation, express themselves verbally, read, spell, or comprehend, the first place to explore is the auditory processing.

Remediation of specific speech, language, and reading skills is important, but if the underlying processing/learning skills that are causing the problem are not being addressed as well, the student will most likely never become as efficient and comfortable a learner as he could be.

Brain and clinical research and our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges over the last 30 years proves that auditory processing can be developed.  Students do not have to continue to struggle with speech, language, reading, and learning problems.

The key is addressing the underlying learning/processing skills so that the brain gets the information that it needs to think with.  Then, remediation of reading, spelling, speech, language or other academic areas will be effective and lasting.

Does your child struggle with reading, attention, or learning?  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 targeted brain training and academic remediation.  For more information:

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

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

 

 

“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

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

Reclaim Self-Esteem by Overcoming Learning Challenges

qwI was at the ice rink to watch a hockey game, but a 4-year-old girl and her 2-year-old brother totally upstaged the game as they exuberantly raced up and down in front of the bleachers!

Aren’t little kids great!  They embrace life with gusto and pull everyone around them into their adventure.

As kids grow, we expect them to lose some of their 4-year old recklessness, but we hope that the unbridled self-esteem will stick with them.  More than anything else, I think it is confidence and self-esteem that gets lost when kids get into school and find that it is a struggle for them.

We are on a mission to change this.  We want to help as many kids as possible to overcome learning and attention challenges so that they can reclaim their confidence and learn comfortably and independently in school.

To do this, we need help.  We need others around the country to be doing this work and providing the kind of cognitive educational therapy we do to students in their community.  To get the word out to people who might want to join this mission with us, we’ve been using the term:  Fix Learning Skills.

Someone took exception to this and said, “Kids don’t need to be fixed!”  And she’s absolutely right!  Kids are amazing just the way they are!  But if they are struggling because of weak underlying learning skills, why not resolve those challenges if we can?

When bright, typical children struggle in school, it is usually because there are weak underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting their academic learning well enough.  These are skills like auditory or visual processing, attention, memory, processing speed, executive function, and sensorimotor integration.

These are not taught in school or traditional tutoring, but they can be developed.  And once they are, the reading, writing, spelling, or math can be remediated and make sense!

We are not trying to “fix” kids.   We are trying to develop, or strengthen, or make efficient…fix is just a shorter word…those underlying skills that allow students to learn more easily and at their potential.  We want them to get their self-esteem back and approach school with the joy and exuberance of the 4 year old in the ice rink!

If you know someone who would love to start a business that “fixes learning skills” and helps children and adults with learning challenges in the way that we do, please have them contact us!  There are so many kids suffering and so few out there doing this work!

If you or your child are struggling with learning and attention challenges and you’re ready for a real change…if you’re ready for your child to love school again..

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night.

For details 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

Transformation

trThe holiday season is a time of transformation.  The landscape turns into a winter wonderland (more naturally in some parts of the country than others)! Attitudes and outlook are transformed.

My living room has been transformed into a display case for a miniature winter village.

Transformation is a hopeful idea.  It means that things that are difficult can change.

At SLC, we get to see transformation everyday.  I am so grateful to the dedicated staff and parents that make this possible, and to all of the clinical researchers in the field of learning that contributed to our understanding of learning and the changes that can take place for children, adults, and families dealing with learning and attention challenges.

A few weeks ago a dad was moved and delighted by a text message from his daughter that said, “I love you.”  The words are moving enough, but this text was the beginning of a transformation for a dyslexic 3rd grader who in previous weeks could not consistently recognize letters.

A young man came to us for testing because he had failed his first semester of medical school.  The cause was certainly not lack of effort or intelligence, but auditory processing and dyslexia.   After 9 weeks of intensive one-to-one cognitive educational therapy at the learning center, he went on to successfully redo his first semester of medical school.

When struggles in school are eliminated, families are transformed.  Parents are able to spread out their time more equally among their children.   A grateful mom shared, “We all speak to each other differently now. “

Does your child or someone you care about struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, learning or attention?  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 and remediating the affected academic areas.

Need to know more??

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

How Retained Reflexes Impact Behavior and Learning

It’s the holidays, and along with the fun comes a whole other set of stressors that may cause already inflexible children (and their families) to miss the magic.

Why Does My Child Act This Way?

A big snowstorm near one airport can cause flight delays and cancellations all over the country.  While people got to their destinations eventually, this causes a great deal of anxiety and disruption to people’s lives, especially during the holidays.sc

Just as air travel is dependent upon an organized system of flight patterns, our nervous system is organized around a system of reflexes.  Primitive reflexes support survival and development in infants, to be replaced with higher-level reflexes as the brain and muscles mature.  Reflexes need to be working properly in order for us to move through life with ease and flow.

When reflexes are not integrated, or working properly, they are like cancelled flights and closed airports, causing disruption, disorganization, and distress to the person’s functioning, attention, learning, and family.

Retained/not integrated reflexes are often at the root of the behavior that causes parents worry and wonder:

Why does my child act this way?

Did you know that:

Bedwetting beyond the age of 5 and sleep problems may be related to a retained Spinal Perez reflex?

A child who hates to wear shoes may have a retained Babinski reflex?

The child who continually drops or knocks things over when he turns his head, may have a retained ATNR (Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex)?

An aggressive, defiant child prone to temper tantrums may have a retained Fear Paralysis Reflex?

An infant with problems nursing may have an inactive Grasping Reflex?

A child who craves sweets and tends to snack rather than eat whole meals may have a retained Moro Reflex?

A student with memory and reading problems may have a retained STNR (Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex).

A student who speaks well but can’t get her thoughts on paper may have a retained ATNR reflex?

A student with poor organizational skills may have an unintegrated Landau Reflex?

The list goes on and on.  It is fascinating to see how everything is connected.  Frustrating or difficult behaviors and challenges with learning are related to something.  They are not about not caring, being unmotivated, bad parenting, or being “bad kids.”  They are related to reflexes and underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting the person well enough.

The encouraging thing is that these reflexes can be integrated and weak underlying skills can be developed.  When the pathways are open, the brain is available and ready to pay attention, learn, and function properly.

Neuroplasticity research tells us that through targeted and intensive training, the brain can be rewired to process information more effectively.

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, learning or attention?

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 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

My Child’s Spelling is Atrocious. What Does it Mean?

dyI have some avid game players in my extended family, so when we get together for the holidays, we play all kinds of games, particularly word games, of which my mom is a wizard!

For a dyslexic child or adult, word games can be an absolute nightmare.

I met a neurosurgeon once who shared with me his story of discovering his dyslexia as a result of playing Scrabble.  This successful, brilliant physician had gone through medical school by sheer willingness to put in twice as many hours studying as anyone else.  He never knew why he had to work so hard; he just knew that’s the way it was.  Until one Thanksgiving, when attempting to play Scrabble with family friends, one of whom happened to be a researcher in the field of dyslexia.  She recognized the dyslexic patterns in his attempts at spelling and got him on the road to correcting his reading and spelling challenges.

What do Dyslexic Spelling Challenges Look Like?

When parents of dyslexic students describe their child’s spelling, they often use words like horrible and atrocious!  Spelling can be even trickier for dyslexic students than reading, because they cannot rely on context and comprehension to help them figure out the words.

Spelling challenges will vary depending upon the type of dyslexic challenges the student has:

Dysnemkinesia (difficulty remembering and writing letter symbols without reversals)

Dysphonesia (difficulty connecting sound and symbol in order to use phonics for reading and spelling)

Dyseidesia (difficulty visually recognizing whole words for reading and recalling the visual image for spelling)

Most often, students have some combination of these dyslexic types.

Here are some common symptoms of spelling challenges that we see with our dyslexic students:

  • Memorize words for the test but cannot retain them later
  • Miss words they knew in order on the list when given in a different order on the test
  • Write words that are completely undecipherable because the sounds and letters make no sense to them
  • Transpose letters or write letters in a generic way because they aren’t really sure what the letter looks like or what letter actually goes in there
  • Add, omit, repeat, shift, or substitute sounds in words (phonemic awareness errors)
  • Write a continuous stream of letters with no or erratic spacing when writing
  • Draw the letters
  • Spell phonetically
  • Leave out vowels
  • Remember some of the important letters in sight words but put them in the wrong place or sequence in the word
  • Omit endings

How do You Spell…?

Dyslexic students may become very dependent upon others for spelling, constantly asking their parent or teacher, “How do you spell_______?”

If the word is a sight word, it may help the student retrieve it if you have him look up and orally spell the word fast.  Both looking up and speaking quickly help trigger visual memory.

If the word is phonetic, have the student say each sound as he writes it. This keeps him from guessing and being impulsive.  It helps him think about all of the sounds in the word.

The vowel + e pattern is particularly tricky for many students, even if they can verbally explain the rule.  Try having the student write the vowel  + e as a single code as he says the sound and then insert the consonant.  This way he won’t forget the silent e and the pattern becomes more ingrained in his mind.

Example:  For the work make, the student would say and write:

/m/ m

/ae/ ma e

/k/  make

Proofreading for Spelling

Spelling requires both the ability to process the number, order, and identity of sounds in words as well as the visual sequential memory capacity to retain what words look like.  When checking their spelling, students should check to see if the word “sounds right” and “looks right.” 

Checking spelling starting at the end of the sentence or paragraph and working forward takes the words out of context, making it easier to focus on each word.

Classroom Tips:  Supporting your Dyslexic Speller

  • Don’t penalize for spelling errors on content area assignments or tests.

Students should always be expected to put out their best effort on spelling and proofreading their work, but dyslexic students often know and understand so much more than their written work would indicate.

  • For severely dyslexic students, give them a greatly reduced list, but require them to get as many letters as they can in the remaining words, at minimum, the first sound. This keeps them engaged for the whole spelling test and makes them less “different” while working on appropriate skills.

Homework Tip:  Visualize! Strategy for Practicing Spelling Words

To be a good speller, you must be able to think about the sounds in the word and have a mental picture of what the word looks like.

Here is a fun strategy for visualizing how words look.  Use this to practice difficult spelling words.  Break the word into parts if needed and then put it back together and practice the whole word.

  1. Look at the word.
  2. Look up and visualize the word on a large imaginary screen slightly above eye level.  The letters should be large.
  3. Point to each letter in the air and say the letter.  Repeat 3 times to get a clear image of the letters. (Draw the letters with two fingers if needed in order to get a good image).
  4. Now point to and say the letters in random order as fast as you can.  (If the student can do this rapidly, he is getting a good image of the word).
  5. If there are tricky letters that the student tends to miss or make mistakes on, have him make those letters especially large, bright, or colorful in his image.
  6. Spell the word forward and say the word.

Why Do Smart Kids Struggle?

Reading, writing, spelling, math, social, and school skills are supported by numerous underlying learning skills.   If one or more of these underlying skills is weak, it will cause the student to have to work harder, longer, and less effectively than expected.

But the brain is amazing!  Brain research over the last 25 years and the decades of clinical work in the trenches actually working with children and adults with learning challenges, have shown that these underlying learning skills can be developed.  The brain can change.  New, more efficient neuropathways, or connections in the brain, can be made so that learning can be easier.  Once the brain is getting the information it needs, it can do the job it is meant to do – to learn!

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

It’s Almost Time for the Holiday Craze!

holi

It’s coming!  It’s inevitable.  So we might as well get on board and enjoy it!  I love the winter holidays, but they do come with their own special set of challenges.

For kids with learning challenges, the excitement of the holidays may be laced with anxiety.  Schedules and activities at home and at school are different and often more frenetic than usual.  This can be very unnerving to kids who depend on structure and routine to feel secure and in control.

For those bright, creative, dyslexic students, the holidays open the door for all kinds of fanciful daydreams!

Keeping your daily routine as much as possible and preparing your kids well in advance for special activities or other disruptions to the routine at home or school can help our less flexible students adjust more easily to the change.

Acknowledging students’ excitement before redirecting can help keep them more present and settled.  For example, to the student staring dreamily into space instead of starting on his math homework:

“There are lots of fun things to think about right now, aren’t there? How about if you share something with me after this math page is done?  Right now, let’s take a look at this first problem.”

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, learning or attention?  Finding ways to manage the day to day challenges is important, but there’s more to the story!

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 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

Happy Halloween!

hallowI remember going to a “Haunted House” on Halloween when I was in the 6th grade.  At one point, we were given peeled grapes in the dark and told that they were eyeballs.  It was so deliciously creepy!

What is it about that little thrill of fear that is so fun?  Maybe it’s that we get to experience that little adrenaline rush while knowing deep down that the fear is temporary and not real.

Fear causes our senses to elevate to high alert:  Our pupils get large to take in as much light as possible.  Our ears become hyper-sensitive to sound.  Our sense of touch is heightened.  This is survival mode.  When we are afraid, our survival mechanisms kick in.

A little self-induced fright on Halloween is fun, but it is not a state that we want to live in as it is not conducive to communication, learning, or general well-being.

In order to move comfortably through our world and function with ease and flow in our lives, the messages that are coming into the brain and being communicated between the brain and the body need to be clear, complete, and accurate.

At the most basic level, much of the communication flowing between the brain and body via our nervous system happens as a result of reflexes.  Reflexes that are active when not needed or not active when needed, create glitches in that communication.

Unintegrated reflexes, or reflexes that are not working properly, cause stress to our whole system and push us into “fight or flight” mode.  Spending too much time in “fight or flight” when we don’t actually need to be fighting or running for survival, can lead to anxiety, depression, illness, fearfulness, lack of confidence, and a myriad of learning or attention challenges.

Thankfully, we know now from decades of clinical evidence and research that reflexes can be integrated and most learning, attention, and related fearfulness and anxiety issues can be corrected.

Our goal for students is that they become comfortable, independent learners at grade level or at their potential.  This not only involves remediation and development of reading, writing, spelling, language, and/or math skills, but identifying and addressing the weak underlying skills, including unintegrated reflexes, that are causing the student to struggle academically and feel confused or anxious.

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, learning or attention?  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 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

Rrrrrr….This is my “Reading Face”

orHave you been to a pumpkin patch yet?  When my kids were young, this was one of our favorite Fall activities.  Such excitement and such a hard choice – picking exactly the right pumpkin!

In addition to pumpkins and Breast Cancer Awareness, October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.  I find that our dyslexic students are some of our most creative and talented students and at the same time, often the most angry and defeated when faced with reading and writing.

In spite of good intelligence and strengths in many other areas, dyslexic students can be completely confused or overwhelmed by print.  They know they should be able to read and spell, but it simply eludes them no matter how hard they try.

It is traditionally believed that if you are dyslexic, you just have to live with it and find ways around it.  It astounds me that this is still the common belief, when the research proving differently has been out there for over 30 years.

Students with dyslexia can learn to process the sounds in words in order to make sense out of phonics, and can gain control over their letter confusion and visual disorientation.  We’ve seen it thousands of times and so many of our previously dyslexic students are now college graduates and successful adults.pump

Fall is a time of new beginnings and possibilities.  If you or your child struggle with dyslexia, learning, or attention challenges,   things can change!  While there are no simple, overnight solutions, dyslexia and 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

Learning Disability Does NOT Equal Low IQ

0David Letterman and Jay Leno both used to do “man-on-the-street” interviews.  In spite of all kinds of documentation on the contrary, a “man-on-the-street” interview would reveal that many people equate a learning disability with low IQ.

Parents with smart but struggling students see far too much evidence of their child’s ability to accept the low IQ theory.

Learning Disability Defined:

According to the U.S. government, “specific learning disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

Does My Child have a Learning Disability?

When kids are spending hours and hours on homework, often amidst arguments and tears, parents begin to wonder if their child might have a learning problem.  Here are some questions parents can think about that will help them determine if their child should be tested for a learning disability:

  • Is there a family history of difficulties in school?
  • Were there problems in pregnancy or birth?
  • Does the student seem to do just fine in some areas but really struggle with others (i.e. great at math but terrible at spelling)?
  • Are there non-academic talents or abilities that just don’t seem to match the struggles at school?
  • Are there inconsistencies in performance – seems to have it one day but forgets it the next?

Here are some statements from parents that come up over and over again that tell me that their child almost certainly has a learning problem.  These are nearly always prefaced with, “I know (s)he’s smart, but…”

  • He’s just lazy.
  • He’s not working to his potential.
  • She can do it when she’s interested.
  • Her reading’s “not that bad.
  • The teacher says it’s a motivation problem.
  • He doesn’t care if it’s right. He just wants to get it done.
  • He just doesn’t pay attention.
  • School just isn’t his thing.
  • He can understand it if I read to him, but doesn’t get it when he reads to himself.
  • I have to be right there or she won’t get anything done.

By definition, a student with a learning disability has average to above average intelligence. With very rare exceptions, no matter what it looks like, these kids do try, they do care, they don’t want to fail, and they are far from lazy.

Throw out the Learning Disability Myth9

In spite of the common belief that a learning disability is a life sentence that cannot be changed, neuroplasticity research and decades of clinical evidence-based findings, show that the underlying learning/processing skills that support easy, efficient learning can be developed.

At our center, we identify and develop the weak underlying learning/processing skills that are at the root of most learning problems.  While there are no overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or corrected.

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, writing, math, or attention?  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 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

More Reading is NOT the Answer

cbChris Botti is one of my favorite artists.  When asked the key to success as a musician, he said, “Four things – Practice, Practice, Practice, and being friends with Sting!”

It is generally accepted (and generally true), that if you want to be good at something, you have to practice, practice, practice.  In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that for someone to become really expert at something, they have to put in their ten thousand hours.

When students have trouble reading, most people believe that more reading, more practice, will solve the problem.  If only the student were more motivated to pick up a book…If the student would just read every single day…

But while practice is incredibly important in becoming good at something, more reading will not generally correct dyslexia or a reading related learning disability.

Good readers are able to think about, or process the sounds inside of words and therefore, learn and apply phonics easily.  They can visually perceive the letters and words on the page without confusion, so remembering words from day-to-day (or line-to-line) is no problem.  With reasonable exposure, they are able to build a strong, dependable sight word vocabulary.

Dyslexic students typically show challenges in both the visual and auditory aspects of reading, making it difficult for them to consistently use what they know about sounds and phonics, even if they know the phonetic rules.  There is often some confusion with letter symbols or visually similar words, making it difficult to retain a mental image of words, causing students to have (in many parents words) “horrendous, ” “terrible,” “horrible” spelling.

More practice is nothing but torture for the dyslexic students experiencing this kind of confusion, causing not only frustration, but anger about reading.  They know they should be able to do it, and everyone expects that with their intelligence and age they can do it.

If letters and words appear to be moving around or disappearing off the page, getting to the visual processing root of the problem that is triggering the disorientation has to be a first step in improving reading.

English is a phonetic language.  If the brain can process clumps of sounds but can’t think about the number, order, or identity of the individual sounds in the words, phonics cannot make enough sense to be a reliable tool.  Phonemic awareness, or the auditory processing skill that allows the person to think about the sounds in words must be developed first in order for phonics to make sense.

So more reading will not solve dyslexia or most reading problems.  But addressing the weak or underdeveloped learning/processing skills that are causing the problem can.  Children and adults with dyslexia and other reading disabilities can become good readers.

When she started with us last year, Alexis, a 2nd grader with very strong dyslexic symptoms, was virtually a non-reader.  She became a solid grade level reader by the time she entered 3rd grade this year.  She is bright and motivated, as so many of our dyslexic students are, but the real difference, was eliminating the disorientation that caused the letters to swim before her eyes and training the auditory part of her brain to “hear” the sounds so that phonics could make sense.

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, learning or attention?  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 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

Not Enough Change!

leafI learned something this weekend.  I was in New Hampshire and while I didn’t expect a foliage change yet, many people that we ran into were apologetic for the lack of colorful fall leaves.  They sadly predicted that the leaf change this year would not be as good as expected because it is too dry.  (They are apparently having their own version of a drought, which will affect the leaf change).

Now I know this is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I thought about all the discouraged parents who tell me that their children are getting special help at school or have been in tutoring for years, but are not making the changes they expected.

There is a reason for this.  When bright students struggle in school, it is almost always because there are weak or inefficient underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting them well enough.  For example, if the brain is not able to think about or process the sounds in words, the student is not likely to be able to sound out words for reading as easily as you would expect.

Even with extra reading support or a real emphasis on phonics, the student may lag behind in reading, because the missing ingredient to success is that weak underlying skill (in this case phonemic awareness) that allows the brain to learn and hold onto the information.

What Parents and Teachers Don’t Understand about Special Education and Tutoring

Special education and traditional tutoring typically focus on supporting academic skills, schoolwork, and homework.  Many students need this extra help in order to get through their work and through the grade.

But while this kind of support may be helpful, it’s not generally a real solution to the problem.  If we are going to make real and permanent changes for struggling students, we must identify and develop the weak or inefficient underlying processing skills.

Cognitive educational therapy addresses the critical underlying processing or thinking skills, as well as remediating reading, writing, spelling, and math.

Tutoring is most effective as a solution to a short-term problem.  A long term learning problem must be dealt with by getting at the root of the problem.

Tutoring provides a way to give students support and help them get their homework done.  But it can also become a crutch because it doesn’t really solve the problem so that the student can do his homework on his own.

Many parents have said to me, “My child has had tutoring on and off over the years.  He seems to do OK when we’ve got a tutor, but as soon as we quit, things go downhill again.”

If tutoring is used to treat a learning problem, it is likely to end up being a never-ending process.

Special education is certainly more involved than tutoring, but it also can be a never-ending service that supports but doesn’t actually correct the problem.

Here are some common symptoms, any of which may indicate that there are underlying processing skills are not supporting the learner well enough:

  • Bright child, teen, or adult is underachieving
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Gets distracted easily
  • Avoids work
  • Yawns all the time when listening
  • Tries really hard for minimal outcome
  • Struggles to sound out words
  • Can’t remember months, days, math facts, spelling words
  • Can’t follow more than one or two directions at a time
  • Is inconsistent with math processes; can’t find or correct math errors; doesn’t understand how numbers work
  • Struggles to read, write, or spell
  • Is uncoordinated, awkward, or has poor posture
  • Has to work excessively hard
  • Gets fatigued quickly / has very low stamina for listening, reading, or schoolwork
  • Misunderstands what is heard or read
  • Misses or mishears information when listening

These issues can be changed.  With specialized training the brain can learn to think and process information in more effective ways.  Children and adults do not have to continue to suffer the effects of learning problems but it will typically take more than what is offered at school or through a tutor.

Are you ready for a REAL CHANGE for your child? 

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night to learn more.

For details 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

A Teacher’s Dilemma – What Do I Do with a Non-Reader in My Classroom?

tLast week, I got to spend some time with a dear friend who is a third grade teacher.  This friend was not only my college roommate, but is also a phenomenal teacher.  School had already started for her and she was telling me about a little boy in her class who was the most delayed reader she had ever had in all her years of teaching.

Though she has a lot of tricks up her sleeve and will do anything for her students, she did not know what to do for this one.  She described him as having good understanding when listening, and being a little boy who tried hard, but he was extremely confused about letters and could not read or write.  He had virtually no connection between the letters and the sounds.

I have been involved with dyslexia and learning disabilities for so long that I recognized the dyslexic symptoms right away.  I knew if I could get my hands on that student, I could start making permanent changes for him immediately.

But what I also realized is that what is second nature for us at Stowell Learning Center, is still not mainstream knowledge.  Classroom teachers (along with most of society) don’t really understand learning disabilities and dyslexia.

What do you do with a student who can’t make sense of print when you have mountains of curriculum to teach?

How can a student have good motivation and seem to understand when listening, but not be able to read or write at all?

Even most of our special education teachers are challenged by these kids, as their job is to find ways to support students so that they can function in the mandated curriculum.

Prognosis for Dyslexia

It is commonly believed that dyslexia is a life-long struggle, to be coped with but never to be corrected.  Neuroscience research proves that through targeted and intensive cognitive training, the brain can be rewired to learn to process information more effectively.

We have absolutely found this to be true!  Dyslexic learners CAN become good readers and spellers.  More reading will not do the trick, but identifying and correcting the weak underlying skills and then intentionally and sequentially remediating the reading and spelling skills will.

bookIs This Student Dyslexic?

Dyslexia is coming to the forefront as more and more states are looking at legislation around dyslexia and education.  Most sources now site 20% of students as being dyslexic.

Here are some questions parents and teachers can ask that will help them determine if dyslexia testing is warranted:

  • Is there a family history of dyslexia?
  • Was there difficulty learning the alphabet?
  • Is there lingering difficulty with letter and number reversals, particularly after age 7?
  • Does the student have difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words?
  • Does he or she tend to add, omit, shift, repeat, or substitute sounds in words when reading, spelling, or speaking?
  • Does the student have average to above average intelligence?
  • Does the student have talents in non-academic areas (sports, acting, music, art, mechanics)?
  • Does the student tend to be creative or artistic? Good at building things?
  • Does the student see things in a different way? Think “out of the box?”
  • Does the student tend to get very frustrated with himself over his reading and writing challenges, calling himself stupid or dumb?

All of these are very common symptoms of dyslexia.

Will the School Correct my Child’s Dyslexia?

Not likely!  The school’s job is to teach a vast array of curriculum – to increase students’ general knowledge in many subject areas.  While basic reading and spelling instruction is given in the primary grades, the child who simply can’t learn these basics in the traditional way is likely to be left behind.  Specialized instruction and support at school will help some, but for most students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities, the key to permanently eliminating the challenge is to identify and develop the weak underlying learning/processing skills that are causing the problem.  This is not typically something that schools are trained, funded, or given the time to do.

The best of both worlds for struggling students is to have supportive, caring, classroom and special education teachers to help them and to accommodate their learning challenges at school, AND specialized cognitive training (generally outside of school) that will address the underlying skills that are at the root of the problem.

This is what we do at Stowell Learning Center.

Success in reading, writing, spelling, math and all those academic subjects taught in school, rests in large part on many different underlying learning/processing skills that allow the brain to get and organize the information needed for learning.  It has been traditionally believed that if you have dyslexia, learning challenges, or attention problems, you just have to learn to live with it – to compensate or get around it.

The truth is that most learning and attention challenges, including dyslexia, can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by first identifying and developing the underlying skills that are not supporting the learner well enough, and then remediating the affected basic academic skills.  We have seen this thousands of times over the last 30 years and the brain research in the last 25 years has proven that the brain can be retrained.  Our bright but struggling students do not have to resort to coping strategies to survive school.

And with the right kind of help, they can let go of their coping strategies and become the confident, independent learners that have the potential to be!

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

School’s Barely Started and He’s Already Distracted

BoWith Back-to-School excitement waning and the reality of the new grade level expectations kicking in, struggling students are probably starting to become apparent.  The first and most obvious symptom of a learning challenge is poor attention.

This may cause worried parents wonder if their child has ADHD.

In our experience, attention challenges can mean many different things.

Foundation for Learning and Attention

Sitting in a chair, listening to the teacher, remembering and following directions, sticking with a reading or writing task through completion – these critical school skills, all require good attention.  And attention requires a solid foundation of underlying learning/processing skills.

We look at learning like a continuum, almost like a ladder, with academic skills at the top, supported by neurodevelopmental, processing, and executive function skills.  If any of these underlying skills are weak, students’ attention will be stressed as they try to compensate or work around their weaknesses.LA

What Do My Child’s Attention Challenges Mean?

Attention Symptoms May be Related to Retained Primitive Reflexes and Weak Core Learning Skills:

  • Wiggles constantly, seeming to have “ants in the pants”
  • Wanders around the classroom
  • Hums and makes distracting noises all of the time
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor posture / low energy and focus

Lack of Focus May be Related to Weak Auditory Processing Skills

  • Daydreams or drifts in and out when listening
  • Loses concentration and comprehension when listening
  • Feels lost and anxious in class and conversations
  • Yawns incessantly when listening

“Careless” Work and Loss of Attention May be Related to Weak Visual Processing Skills

  • Avoids reading and writing
  • Doesn’t line up numbers in math
  • Low stamina for reading / becomes distracted or whiny quickly with written work
  • Rushes / “Just wants to get it done and doesn’t care if it’s right”

Neuroscience research tells us that through targeted and intensive training, the brain can be rewired to process information more effectively.  With a stronger foundation of underlying skills, we have consistently seen an increase in ease of learning and a reduction in attention symptoms for many, many students.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

DON’T Get LOST on the First Day of School!

SCHoolI woke up this morning a little bit panicked from a dream I was having about the first day of school.  I was attending a new school that was essentially cabins spread out in a huge area in the woods.  (I know – crazy – but it was a dream)!

My mom was with me and knew where my first class was, so I managed to get through my first class, but I spent the rest of my dream wandering, and then running through the entire campus trying to figure out where I was supposed to go.  I didn’t have a class schedule, couldn’t find the office, and in the end, complete with having run through Poison Ivy, broke down in tears…which woke me up.

My first thought was, that I was thankful it was just a dream.  My second was that I needed to remind parents that if their kids are going to a new school and haven’t gotten on the campus to see the lay of the land, they might need to.

I haven’t experienced Back-to-School Jitters in a long time, but with school just around the corner, I know some students are.  Going to a new school can be overwhelming to some students, especially those who have to change classes for the first time.  Getting even a little bit familiar with the school ahead of time can help make the first few days less intimidating.

Before the first day of school, go to the building. Take a look at it. Where are the entrances? Where is the playground? What can you figure out just by looking at the outside?

Is there a map you can download or get from the school? 

If you can get inside, do some exploring:

  • Where is the lunchroom?
  • Where is the PE area?
  • Where is my classroom?
  • Will I have to change classes? If so, where are the other rooms?
  • Where is the office? (Hint…It’s almost always near the flagpole).
  • Where are the bathrooms?
  • Where is the library?
  • Are there multiple ways to get to all of these rooms?
  • In what order might I need to go from room to room?
  • Take a few pictures so you can remember what it looks like

Getting lost can happen to anyone, but it is more apt to happen to students who struggle. Start the year by removing this anxiety. It’s such a simple thing to fix beforehand, but getting lost during school can ruin a whole day.

Make sure the first few days are fun and not an exercise in frustration.

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

I’m Ambidextrous! Isn’t that cool?

penHave you ever tried to write your name with your non-dominant hand?  It’s pretty funny, right?  And really challenging!

So when we see a person who is ambidextrous and can use both hands equally to do things, it’s seems pretty amazing.  In baseball, switch-hitters (players who can bat either right-handed or left handed) are in demand.

But…when it comes to reading and writing, ambidextrous is often a deterrent and a symptom of a learning problem. It is an indication that the student has difficulty crossing the midline of his or her body.

Why is crossing the midline so important? The “midline” is the imaginary line running from top to bottom down the center of the body that separates the body into right and left halves.  Crossing the midline means that one body part (i.e. the hand) is able to go across that centerline and work on the other side of the body.

The ability to cross the midline is important for both the body and the brain.  The two hemispheres of the brain have different functions and approach tasks from different perspectives. The two hemispheres need to communicate with each other across the corpus callosum in order to contribute their unique perspective and coordinate movement and learning.

When a child crosses the midline spontaneously with his dominant hand, that hand will get the practice needed to develop good fine motor skills.  If the child avoids crossing the midline, he may tend to use both hands interchangeably to do tasks that should be done with the dominant hand.  As a result, both hands get practice but neither one becomes dominant and “expert.”  Hand dominance does not get firmly established and fine motor skills, such as pencil control and handwriting, will be affected.

Signs that a student has trouble crossing the midline:   

  • Tips head far to the side and turns the paper or book sideways when writing or reading so that she is never crossing the midline from left to right, but is reading or writing essentially from bottom up.
  • Uses one hand on one side of the body and switches to the other hand at the midline. For example, if a student is pointing under the words as she is reading, she may start out with her left pointer and then switch to the right at the midline.  Young students sometimes switch the pencil from one hand to another when writing to avoid the midline.
  • Shifting the body way over to the left side while writing so they never have to cross the midline.
  • Subtle shift of the paper toward the dominant side while writing so the dominant hand never has to reach further then the midline.
  • Tend to hold self very stiffly, moving the body as a whole unit instead of turning or rotating their trunk. For example, a student with poor ability to cross the midline may turn his hips or whole body when handing something in his right hand to someone standing to the left of him, as opposed to just turning his upper body.

When students struggle with reading or writing, schools and tutors typically provide accommodations or work on breaking down the reading/writing process into smaller pieces.  These are valuable and important supports.  But when otherwise bright students have difficulty with reading or writing, there are almost always foundational underlying learning/processing skills that are weak or underdeveloped.  Ability to easily and automatically cross the midline is just one of them.

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

Is My Child Dyslexic?

bookDyslexia is coming to the forefront as more and more states are looking at legislation around dyslexia and education.  Most sources now site 20% of students as being dyslexic.

Here are some questions to ask parents that will help them determine if dyslexia testing is warranted:

  • Is there a family history of dyslexia?
  • Was there difficulty learning the alphabet?
  • Is there lingering difficulty with letter and number reversals, particularly after age 7?
  • Does the student have difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words?
  • Does he or she tend to add, omit, shift, repeat, or substitute sounds in words when reading, spelling, or speaking?
  • Does the student have average to above average intelligence?
  • Does the student have talents in non-academic areas (sports, acting, music, art, mechanics)?
  • Does the student tend to be creative or artistic? Good at building things?
  • Does the student see things in a different way? Think “out of the box?”
  • Does the student tend to get very frustrated with himself over his reading and writing challenges, calling himself stupid or dumb?

All of these are very common symptoms of dyslexia.

Prognosis for Dyslexia

It is commonly believed that dyslexia is a life-long struggle, to be coped with but never to be corrected.  Neuroscience research proves that through targeted and intensive cognitive training, the brain can be rewired to learn to process information more effectively.

We have absolutely found this to be true!  Dyslexic learners CAN become good readers and spellers.  More reading will not do the trick, but identifying and correcting the weak underlying skills and then intentionally and sequentially remediating the reading and spelling skills will.

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

What Happens When the Wrong Thing Works?

hckeyJuly is the month of summer camps and growing up, our kids were no exception.  One summer, we went to Penticton, British Columbia so that our son, Kevin, could attend a one-week ice hockey camp.

We were really fortunate that an NHL professional player, Ray Ferraro, had brought his son to the camp the same week.  Even better was the fact that Ray’s son and our son were both goalies.  That meant my husband and Ray got to spend every afternoon in the stands together as hockey dads.

Later that week, Ray went on the ice and took some shots on Kevin. Overall he was pretty impressed with our kid (it sure made us feel good).

But then he said this, “Kevin used some moves that aren’t good, and the worst thing about it is when he used them, they worked.  But when I see a goalie do what he did, I’ll beat him every time.”

Because the moves worked in that moment, he was bound to repeat them, thinking these were the right ways to play the position.  But experienced players could tell it was just a matter of time before his game would collapse.

Fortunately, he made the right changes and had a very good “career” as a goalie.

This very same pattern occurs with students with learning challenges.  They have to find a way to survive in school and often develop coping strategies that help them get by, but don’t actually further their ability to be independent and successful learners.

I remember one very bright high school student, Alan, who had quite a serious auditory processing problems and read at a 6th grade level.  Now, 6th grade level is enough to slide by with a lot of extra effort, but it simply wasn’t going to be enough to get him through his honors classes, or into college as the pre-med student he wanted to be.

Alan’s weak auditory processing skills caused him to become extremely sleepy in class (a symptom of system overload) and he missed a tremendous amount of information from lectures.

Alan’s survival solution to these problems was to let girls who were good at Language Arts and History copy his math homework in exchange for them writing his essays.  And it worked!  For most of his high school career, no one knew that he was really struggling.

Unfortunately, the closer he got to college entrance exams and applications, the more evident it became that his skills were not going to cut it.

Thankfully, Alan’s parents recognized the problem in time to get him the help he needed to correct the auditory processing challenges that were affecting his listening and reading.  Alan did go on to Columbia University as a pre-med major.  He has since changed his focus to physical therapy by his own choice and not because his skills couldn’t support his goals.

It is a very common belief that if you have a learning or attention challenge, you just have to try harder, be more motivated, and find ways to work around your challenges.  The creative ways of coping with their challenges may work for a while, but are simply not a long term recipe for success.

The brain research over the last 25 years and our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges proves that the underlying skills (such as auditory processing) that support efficient learning can be developed, paving the way for true and permanent remediation of reading disabilities and other academic struggles.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

“I Want My Son to Love School Again”

sc“I just want my son to love school again,” said a mom at a recent parent information meeting.  She went on to share that the summer before her son began kindergarten, he was so excited about starting school that he asked repeatedly, “Can I start today?”

That’s how learning should feel!  Like an adventure that we just can’t wait to start!

But this boy, who started off so excited, now marks off each day on the calendar until he can get to a day with no school.  He counted down the days to the end of his second grade year in relief.

What saps the excitement out of learning?  The same thing that saps the excitement out of anything – lack of success.

It is hard for parents, friends, relatives, and even some teachers to understand how a smart child can struggle in school.  After all, everyone does it and its not rocket science, right?

But learning requires tools.  Just as a carpenter has sets of specific tools to create and build with, are there whole sets of underlying physical and mental tools that need to be in place in order to learn comfortably and effectively in school. When any of these underlying tools, or learning skills, are weak, it can cause students to have to work harder and longer than expected, and often with lesser results.

Children and teens spend a huge amount of time in school.  Struggling students may find ways to compensate for their challenges, but after awhile, those compensations take their toll in time, effort, energy, attention, and motivation.

A carpenter wouldn’t dream of using a screwdriver to do a job that requires a hammer.  So why would we expect a student to perform in school without the right tools?

I think the real answer to this question is that parents and most educators simply don’t understand what the underlying learning skills are and more importantly that they can be developed.

We tend to accept that students have dyslexia, auditory or visual processing disorders, attention deficits, and learning disabilities, and try to support them and give them “work-arounds,” but you rarely hear people talking about actually correcting these challenges.

However, it is absolutely possible for a smart but struggling student to learn to love school again.  The underlying skills that support learning can be developed.  Like the carpenter, they can access the right tools for the job.

We have worked with thousands of children and adults over the past 30 years, developing the needed underlying learning skills and remediating the affected reading, writing, spelling, or math skills.  We know it’s possible, and the brain research over the past 25 years proves that the brain can literally re-wire.

I remember working with a boy with severe dyslexia and attention challenges when he was in the 3rd grade.  It was not a quick fix – we worked with him from 3rd to 6th grade – but when he went on to junior high, no one could believe that he had struggled in school.  By high school, he was able to play sports and independently handle honors classes.

As an elementary student, Kris hated school and tried to avoid it at all costs, but as his learning skills and reading changed, he found that he actually liked learning!  When I ran into his mom a few years ago, she shared that Kris is an avid student and had just gone back to school for a second maters degree.

We want students to love school again.  And we know that it is possible!

Do you or your child struggle with reading, writing, spelling, math, attention?  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 and remediating the affected academic areas.  Ready for a change??

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

Some Random Thoughts About Dad

dOn a rest stop on a beautiful river road bike ride yesterday, I found myself skipping rocks in the river and thinking about my dad.  I have a very special memory of my dad teaching me to skip rocks on a lake when I was probably 7 or 8 years old.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, so first and foremost, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!  I hope it was a great day!

Dad’s Like FUN!

Many dads kid that they are just little boys at heart.  They need their toys and play time.  There are some lessons to be learned there for students, especially those who struggle in school.

When school is difficult, it may not be a whole lot of fun for kids.  They often miss recess or playtime at home just trying to get their work completed.  Parents find it frustrating that their child won’t just sit down and get his homework done rather than dragging it out all afternoon.

Maybe what the brain needs is a break – a little bit of fun, laughter, or movement – to re-energize it.  Parents can structure Brain Breaks so that kids get the little reboot that they need without losing their momentum with homework.  Try something like:

  • Going outside and shooting (attempting) 5 baskets a piece
  • Turning on music and doing silly dances for 5 minutes
  • Chase the dog around the yard for 5 minutes
  • Play a 5 minute game of UNO or some other quick, fun, card game
  • Have a Stacking Cups competition

These little Brain Breaks are a fun way to spend a few minutes together in a positive way, change attitudes, and increase energy.  If a student knows he has a 5-minute Brain Break to look forward to at the end of the task, it may increase his motivation and productivity.

Boys Need Approval

Boys need approval.  Little boys, big boys, boys who have grown up to be dads – they tend to be hard on themselves and operate best with approval.  Boys won’t generally play a game they don’t think they can win, but they do like to play games.

Try breaking challenging tasks into small little competitions that the student can win:

  • We just did this stack of flashcards in 2 minutes. Let’s do them one more time and see if you can beat your time!
  • You got 9 of these math facts correct last time. How many do you think you can get this time?

Validate the performance:

  • When you wrote out this answer, your words gave me a really good mental picture!
  • Wow! These three words are the stars of the page. They are so neat and easy to read!
  • That was a good connection that you made between those two events in the story.
  • Asking your teacher to clarify the assignment shows maturity and that you’re taking responsibility for your work. I’m really proud of you!

Many of our boys won’t take a compliment, but they feel proud of an accomplishment that is noted specifically.  And, that validation will encourage them to repeat it!

Dad’s Like to Nap

My dad loved taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon.  I often find my husband “watching a game on TV” AKA napping on the weekend.   I think a lot of dad’s enjoy a good nap.

Personally, I find it really hard to nap.  It makes me feel like I’m being lazy.

I think there are some real misconceptions about the word lazy – especially in light of learning and attention problems.

I heard the mom of a 3 ½ year old boy with unclear and limited speech say that he was just being lazy.

What I have found is that people of any age do not want to fail or be misunderstood.  Children with speech or learning problems do not have them because they are lazy.  They have them because there are underlying skills that are not supporting them well enough.  In the case of speech and reading issues, the problem is often rooted in weak auditory processing of sounds.  If the brain cannot think about all of the sounds in words, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce and decode those sounds when speaking and reading.

Parents who find themselves describing their child as lazy, need to explore the real root of the problem.  Lazy can be a symptom, but is almost never the reason why a student struggles.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 and remediating the affected academic areas.  Ready for a change??

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

 

A Student’s Perspective on SLC

90I just have to share this with you.  This is an email I received from a 16-year old student on his last day at Stowell Learning Center.  This was a boy, who at 15, when he came to us, was so shutdown, and had such challenges with language and comprehension, that he didn’t look at or speak to anyone.  He had tremendous difficulty expressing himself and was often very resistant.

I am so proud of Steve and his SLC team for the effort and persistence that has brought him to the point of being such an articulate, thoughtful young man who cares about his education and his future.

Steve…we just cant wait to hear what you do with your life.  All the best in 11th grade next year!

Steve’s Email:

When I first attended here in early 2015, I was anxious. I was very nervous. I had not been in school since September of 2014. Throughout the first months, I learned P.A.C.E., rebuilt my math skills and foundations, and A.S.T. comprehension. For math, back in middle school through early high school, I did not even try doing any of the math homework. I felt as if I could not do it and lacked motivation. Once I came over to Stowell they proceeded to teach me the very basics of math, to build a foundation then on-wards towards higher grade math. I felt much more confident in math. I had a feeling of “Wow, I can actually do this” and my motivation for math grew. With A.S.T. comprehension, it helped me slow down with reading since I was basically Speedy McGee, which did not help at all with remembering the story such as main points, the plot, why this character did this or that, etc. A.S.T. comprehension also helped me in reading more fluently and make pictures in my head to better help me remember the story. P.A.C.E. I found fun and interesting. It is essentially brain games to train your mind and challenge it. With P.A.C.E., it helped me to focus, think quicker, and solve problems and puzzles as quick as possible. With each level getting more challenging and interesting, surely it benefited me.

After the summer of 2015, my programs changed since I was going back to school, but the school was not just an ordinary one, it was a middle college. My new school assigned more homework than a regular school, so my programs at Stowell helped me more on doing my homework and organization, which is executive function and Q.R.I. These programs started to play a beneficial role for me. I have always had pretty bad anxiety that made it so much more harder for me to focus in school and have a social life. It was very limiting for me. Q.R.I. relaxes your body, as well as integrate your reflexes, which helps in learning and being more focused in a learning environment. Q.R.I. reduced my anxiety and helped in learning. Executive function helped me in visualizing which homework to do and helped with my organization skills.

The clinicians were very helpful and motivated towards helping me turn in my homework and step up my game for this school year. I was assigned to read 2 books on a career I may be interested in. I chose Life Coaching, since I enjoy helping people who need it such as in their job, events and situations in life that affect them, etc. The 2 books were over 300 pages long, and with the foundation  A.S.T. comprehension provided, it helped me on better visualizing and remembering what I read and understand the points so much more.

I can really say that without Stowell, I would not be as focused, motivated, confident, and comfortable to be back in school. They have truly helped me, and I can not describe how thankful I am to have had the chance for them to help me grow in life and at school. The clinicians made me feel comfortable here and they became sort of like older siblings that you could connect with and help you, in my opinion. I will always remember my time being here, the memories of creating spirit weeks for all of the students attending Stowell, setting up a field trip, laughing, learning, thinking about my future more, and much much more. I am honored to have attended here, and it has been an experience that I shall always be glad for. I truly would not be the better me I am today without the Stowell family!

Sincerely, Steve Lopez

 

This is why we love what we do at SLC!

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 and remediating the affected academic areas.  Ready for a change??

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

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

Different and Proud of It!

http://www.today.com/parents/little-girl-opts-hot-dog-costume-princess-day-frankly-it-t96516

http://www.today.com/parents/little-girl-opts-hot-dog-costume-princess-day-frankly-it-t96516

The Today show aired a fun piece today about a little girl who opted to wear a hotdog costume to her dance class on Princess Day!

Now that’s confidence!  I love the individuality of little kids and I love it when people aren’t afraid to be themselves.

Being different because you choose to be is often something to be admired.  But being different because you can’t help it, can be painful.

Over and over, I hear parents of struggling students say, “I just don’t want him to feel different.”

When you are the student who’s always being told to, “Pay attention,” or the one who has to stay in at recess to finish your work, or leave the classroom for special help, being different doesn’t feel so great.

Students with average to above average intelligence that struggle with dyslexia, ADHD, learning disabilities, or academic struggles, can look around the classroom and know that they are different.

They didn’t choose it.  They don’t like it.  And they can’t help it.  They know that other other students study less and get better grades; get more awards; have more friends; and can read, write, spell, or do math easily.  And because these struggling students are intelligent and can see the differences, they often come to the conclusion that they just aren’t that smart.  They come home saying,

“ I’m just stupid.”

“I’m the dumbest kid in the class.”

It’s untrue, but it feels true.  And it’s no fun to be different in this way.

The great news is, that learning challenges like this can change.  There are numerous underlying learning/processing skills that need to be in place in order for students to learn easily at their potential in school.  When any of these underlying skills are weak, it can cause even very bright students to struggle.

By identifying the weak underlying skills and developing them through intensive, targeted brain training, the foundation for comfortable, efficient learning can be established and the academic skills can be brought up to par.

Brett was a 5th grade student who came to Stowell Learning Center very unhappily.  He hated being different in school.  He hated needing help.  Here’s what he said at the end of his program of cognitive training and academic remediation:

“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 that I come to Stowell I improved in all subjects. My grades before were Ds. Now they raised to As and Bs. It makes me feel special to be known as a smart kid to other people.”

Is your bright child feeling not so bright?  Are you ready for a change?

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

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make When Their Child Has Difficulty With School Part 7

We’re finishing up our series on common mistakes that parents inadvertently make when their child struggles in school.  I hope you’ve found it helpful.  As parents we always do the very best we can for our kids, but often, having a bright child struggle with reading or some other aspect of school is new territory and we don’t quite know what to think.

Mistake #7 – Ask The Wrong People For Help 

Tutors, schools, pediatricians, and psychologists have their own specialties.  Fixing learning problems is not really their field.

Standard testing doesn’t usually diagnose problems with underlying skills.89

And there aren’t a lot of places that know how to correct the weak underlying learning skills that are at the root of the problem.  Fortunately, the number is growing all the time.

Those that do know how to make real and permanent changes can completely make-over the lives of both students and families.  It looks like a miracle when it happens!

If you follow my blog, you will have heard this time and time again, but it’s so crucial that it bears repeating.

Academic and social skills are higher level skills that sit on a foundation of what we call underlying learning/processing skills.  These are skills such as attention, memory, auditory and visual processing, processing speed, and reasoning.  Integrated reflexes and organized visual and motor skills also support comfortable, efficient learning.

If any of these underlying skills are weak, they can cause even very bright students to struggle – to have to work harder and longer than expected and often with a much lesser result.

While most people believe that students with learning challenges, including learning disabilities and dyslexia, just have to work around them and learn to live with them, we know that the critical underlying skills CAN be developed so that reading, writing, spelling, and math can be remediated and students can learn at their potential.  The brain can change.  Our work with thousands of children and adults over the last 30 years, and the brain research of the last 25 years proves that this is true.

Our goal is to help as many students as possible to become fully comfortable and independent learners.

Students should not have to suffer in school.  Their self-esteem shouldn’t be chipped away a little each day.  They should thrive in school…and they can!

Let us help your child become one of our Success Stories!

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

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make when their Child has Difficulty with School Part 6

When smart kids struggle in school, it’s confusing and frustrating for all involved.  In my experience both as a parent and working with thousands of parents, we suffer along with our kids and we will do anything to help them be happy and successful.

But since kids don’t come with instruction manuals, we have to figure it out as we go.  Making mistakes is unquestionably part of the process of figuring things out.

We’ve been looking at some mistakes that many parents make when trying to deal with their children’s learning challenges.  Here’s Mistake #6…

23Mistake #6 – Misread The Signs

“My child doesn’t have learning disabilities or anything serious like that.  She just has trouble spelling.”

“My son can do the work.  He just doesn’t want to.”

This is a very common mistake.

Here are some signs that parents may misread or ignore, thinking that more effort, motivation, or time will take care of the issue:

  • Trouble reading
  • Trouble spelling
  • Taking too long on class assignments or homework
  • Difficulty making / keeping friends
  • Clumsy
  • Disorganized
  • Difficulty getting thoughts down on paper
  • Trouble copying from the board
  • Doesn’t follow directions
  • Confusion with right and left
  • Often say, “Huh?” or “What”
  • “Lazy”
  • “Hate” school or battle during homework

What Do These Signs Mean?

These may not look like signs of a learning problem, but they do indicate “holes” or weaknesses in the underlying learning/processing skills that support learning.

Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning/processing skills.  If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top.  Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder.  When the underlying skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should.  Research tells us that 30% of the population has some degree of difficulty with some of these skills.

Can it Change?

The good news is that these underlying skills can be developed.  Brain research on neuroplasticity has proven that through targeted and intensive training, the brain can literally change and grow.  New and permanent neuropathways or connections can be made that will allow individuals to learn new skills and process information more effectively.

Our experience and that of our colleagues in this field over the past 30 years have proven that most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.

Have you noticed signs in yourself, your child, or teen that may indicate real struggles with learning?  Are you ready to learn more and find out about how to make a real and permanent impact on your or your child’s learning?

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

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make when their Child has Difficulty with School Part 5

When smart kids struggle in school, it’s confusing and frustrating for all involved.  In my experience both as a parent and working with thousands of parents, we suffer along with our kids and we will do anything to help them be happy and successful.

But since kids don’t come with instruction manuals, we have to figure it out as we go.  Making mistakes is unquestionably part of the process of figuring things out.

We’ve been looking at some mistakes that many parents make when trying to deal with their children’s learning challenges.

Here’s Mistake #5…

Mistake #5 – Buy Into The Myth That Nothing Can Really Be Done To Permanently Fix Learning Problems

Old thinking insists that students with learning problems, including dyslexia, will just have to learn to live with them or find ways to get around them.

NOT TRUE!

Brain research over the last 25 years has destroyed the myth.  Unfortunately, schools and colleges just haven’t caught up. B

Having a learning problem is like trying to ride a bicycle with flat tires.  All the effort in the world won’t make the bike not have flat tires.

Schools often provide an adult to help steady the bike seat.  They keep the rider from falling, but they don’t solve the real problem.

Some tutoring places teach better techniques for riding a bike that has flat tires.

But the BEST approach is to fix the tires! 

Once the tires are fixed there is no need for someone to hold the seat.

Over the last 30 years of working with thousands of children and adults with learning disabilities and dyslexia, we KNOW these challenges can change because we do it everyday.

What Does it Take to Make the Changes?

Academic and social skills are built on a foundation of underlying processing or learning skills.  When underlying skills are weak, it will cause students to have to work harder and longer than they should.

In order to eliminate learning challenges, we have to identify and develop those weak underlying skills and remediate the basic academic skills (reading, writing, spelling, or math) that were affected.

While it is not an overnight process, it is not a forever process either. It takes time, commitment, and targeted and intensive training, but the brain is amazing.  New and more efficient neuropathways, or connections for learning can be made, and learners who previously struggled can become comfortable and independent learners.

Is your child struggling in school?  Work with the teachers and the school to get support and accommodations and to make sure that your child is understood.

But don’t assume that the school will fix the problem or that learning challenges can never really be changed.  Bright but struggling students CAN be in regular or honors classes and learn as easily as the rest of the class, BUT it takes understanding and developing the weak underlying learning/processing skills at the root of the problem.

To take the first step towards correcting the problem:

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

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make when their Child has Difficulty with School Part 4

When smart kids struggle in school, it’s confusing and frustrating for all involved.  In my experience both as a parent and working with thousands of parents, we suffer along with our kids and we will do anything to help them be happy and successful.

But since kids don’t come with instruction manuals, we have to figure it out as we go.  Making mistakes is unquestionably part of the process of figuring things out.

We’ve been looking at some mistakes that many parents make when trying to deal with their children’s learning challenges.  Here’s Mistake #4…

Mistake #4 – Assuming That The School Will Fix It – Trust The School To Solve The Learning Problem

34This is probably the most devastating of all the mistakes.  Parents believe that the school’s job is to fix learning problems.

Parents take test results to the school and think that schools will make the learning problem go away.

Whether it should or shouldn’t be, solving learning problems is NOT what schools do.

Schools focus on getting curriculum taught so that students can expand their knowledge in subject areas and pass standardized tests.

Schools are not trained to fix learning problems, they aren’t staffed to deliver that kind of service, and they don’t have the budget to do it.

It takes specialized training and specialized programs to make the permanent changes that result in actually solving learning problems.

Is your child struggling in school?  Work with the teachers and the school to get support and accommodations and to make sure that your child is understood.  Get strategies from teachers for how to best work with your child on homework.

But don’t assume that the school will fix the problem.  Bright but struggling students CAN be in regular or honors classes and learn as easily as the rest of the class, BUT it takes understanding and developing the weak underlying learning/processing skills at the root of the problem.

To take the first step towards correcting the problem:

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

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make when their Child has Difficulty with School Part 2

30% of ALL students struggle with some aspect of learning.  Most of these struggling students have average to above average IQ scores.  In other words, they have plenty of ability, but something isn’t working quite right.

These students CAN be in regular or honors classes and learn as easily as the rest of the class, BUT it takes the right kind of help in order for them to really thrive in school.

Last week we started looking at some common mistakes that many parents inadvertently make when their child or teen is struggling in school.

Mistake #2 – Assume A Learning Problem Just Isn’t That Big A Deal45

“School isn’t everything.”  “He can read, he just can’t spell.”  “He does well at math, it’s just reading he has trouble with.”

These are all signs that there is a larger learning issue going on.

Learning problems don’t get smaller if you ignore them.  They always get worse.

If it lasts for a few weeks, it needs attention.  It won’t go away, but it will get worse.

And these days, being a good learner is essential to getting and keeping a job.  Having the ability to read, write, spell, comprehend, will allow people to gain new skills as the job market continues to change.

The future employment of every student in school now is connected to their ability to learn.

Learning, including speaking, paying attention, organization, reading, spelling, math, and writing is built upon a foundation of underlying processing skills.  These are skills such as auditory and visual processing, attention, body awareness and control, memory, and reasoning.  These are not typically taught, but rather are assumed to be in place when children go to school.   When any of these underlying skills are weak, it can cause students to struggle more than would be expected.

The great news is that 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 and remediating the affected academic areas.

Bright but struggling students CAN be in regular or honors classes and learn as easily as the rest of the class, BUT it takes understanding and developing the weak underlying learning/processing skills at the root of the problem.

Is your child struggling in school?  Don’t assume it isn’t a big deal.  Take the first step towards correcting the problem:

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

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make when their Child has Difficulty with School Part 1

No Wonder Our Kids Are Struggling

Research tells us that 30% of the population across the board has some degree of difficulty with the key auditory skill that supports efficient reading. One in five students are now thought to have dyslexia.  The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that at least 5 percent of American children have ADHD.

Most of these struggling students have average to above average IQ scores.  In other words, they have plenty of ability, but something is getting in the way of their learning and performing in school as expected.

In my experience, parents always want to help their children, but when smart kids struggle in school, it’s confusing and hard to understand.  How can they be so talented or capable in some areas, but do so poorly in others?  Can it change? What is the parent supposed to do?

Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at the 7 most common mistakes made by parents of students who struggle in school.

Mistake #1 – Waiting Too Long Before Looking For Help

qwPanic is not what most parents want to do.  School can be hard and some students take a while to get adjusted to the workload, the new ideas, and the routine.

But if students have trouble keeping up…if they struggle with the foundational elements, then something is probably wrong.

For students who are not keeping up, school is a very painful place.  They begin to believe they aren’t very smart.  Their self-esteem gets destroyed…one little piece each and every day.

And coming home is no fun either because they spend hours doing homework that takes other kids just a few minutes.

School should not be a struggle for most students.  It can be challenging, it can be some work, but it shouldn’t be a constant struggle.

Reading, writing, and spelling are easily learned by most children.  If a child keeps working harder at those subjects than other students, then there is problem.  The sooner it is addressed, the sooner the student can relax and enjoy school.  And the sooner the family can relax and enjoy life again.

Learning, including speaking, paying attention, organization, reading, spelling, math, and writing is built upon a foundation of underlying processing skills.  These are skills such as auditory and visual processing, attention, body awareness and control, memory, and reasoning.  These are not typically taught, but rather are assumed to be in place when children go to school.   When any of these underlying skills are weak, it can cause students to struggle more than would be expected.

The great news is that 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 and remediating the affected academic areas.

Bright but struggling students CAN be in regular or honors classes and learn as easily as the rest of the class, BUT it takes understanding and developing the weak underlying learning/processing skills at the root of the problem.

Is your child struggle struggling in school?  Don’t make the “waiting mistake.”  Take the first step towards correcting the problem:

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

Spring Flowers and Special Stressors for Struggling Students

SPWe are getting one of those rare rain showers here in Southern California this morning.  It’s pretty amazing to me how instantly the hills and lawns green up with a little bit of rain.  Spring showers really do bring flowers!

Year after year, we have seen that spring also seems to bring with it some special stressors for families, especially those with struggling students.  I think Spring Fever is a real thing!  As students, parents, and teachers hit the home stretch before summer, anxiousness increases.

  • There are pollens in the air causing allergies and accompanying irritability to flair.
  • Everyone has been pushing hard and by this point in the year, they’re starting to get tired.
  • Teachers are feeling the pressure of all the curriculum they haven’t yet covered and have to get in before the end of the school year.
  • Kids and parents are feeling the pressure of higher expectations and greater homework load.
  • Spring sports have started, adding practices and games to an already busy schedule.

In addition to the typical spring stressors, we are seeing the impact of Common Core instruction on our students and families. Students are having trouble keeping up even in subjects, such as math, that they used to excel in because of the higher reading and writing demand.

More and more, parents are afraid that their children will have to repeat a grade.  They wonder if their children and teens are just not motivated enough.

We know from working with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges over the last 30 years, that truly correcting diagnosed and undiagnosed learning disabilities is possible.  It is also a process.  And springtime seems to be the hardest time for families to be patient with the process.

When a bright child or teen struggles academically, there is almost always some area of underlying learning skills (such as attention, memory, auditory or visual processing, comprehension, processing speed, reasoning, or mental organization) that is keeping the student from learning and applying reading, writing, spelling, or math skills as easily as she should.

Really correcting the academic challenge requires developing the weak underlying learning skills as well as remediating the reading, writing, spelling, or math.  This takes time, intensity, and consistency.

For us at Stowell Learning Center, it means remaining focused on the process and the real goal of sending students out as confident, independent learners.  It means that sessions will be spent on developing the skills that will ultimately change the student’s future.  It also means, that in most cases, we will not be working on homework.

Our parents really get this and they are so committed to the process.  But this time of year really takes its toll.  Grades and test scores may not have improved or improved enough yet.  The end of the year is looming and everyone is worried.

I just want to say to parents, if you’re with us or in some other therapy that you know is addressing the underlying roadblocks to your child’s learning:

Hang in there!  You’re doing something amazing and life-changing for your child.  It’s going to take time, but it won’t take forever, and things will change!

Here are a few other notes for parents:

  1. Repeating a grade will not solve a learning problem. Retention is exactly the right solution for a young child who is developmentally young (immature) for his age or chronologically young for his grade, but it is not a solution for dyslexia or learning problems.
  1. Kids and teens may seem unmotivated, but this is a coping strategy, not the real issue. I don’t know any students who wants to fail, but I know many who put out so much energy trying to get through the school day, that they just don’t have a lot of steam left for homework when they get home where it’s safe to let down.
  1. As you well know, homework, tests, and projects don’t go on hold while your child is working with us or others to correct their learning challenges. If you are not already getting them, go to learningdisability.com and register for our Weekly Homework Tips.  These are practical strategies dealing with all different aspects of homework, organization, and test study that can help you work with your child more effectively and easily.
  1. Often one parent works more with the child on homework than the other. For the parent who doesn’t work with the child on homework on a regular basis, it may be hard to see the invaluable changes that are happening in sessions with us or other therapies.  I encourage those parents to come observe a session.  See how hard your child is working and celebrate the changes in thinking, reading, spelling, writing, math, and attention that are occurring on a regular basis.
  1. Better grades are a realistic goal, but they are not the only measure of progress and not typically the first thing to change.
  1. Summer is good time to work more intensively at Stowell Learning Center or at other therapies that are addressing the real issues so that students can make as much change as possible before the next school year without the stress of homework.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 and remediating the affected academic areas.  Need to know more??

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisabiy.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

 

 

JFK, Sir Isaac Newton, and Making Real Changes for Children with Learning and Attention Challenges

123My husband, David, writes a business tip for private practice owners every week.  I thought I’d share part of this week’s tip with you because it’s about change –  something we all want for our struggling students, yet something that comes with it’s own set of ups and downs.

He writes (and I concur)…

Recently, Mondays have become my favorite day of the week!

It’s not that I love work so much that I can’t wait to get started.  It’s not that I hate the weekend and want to do something different.

It’s because of Hulu.

If you don’t know Hulu, it’s an Internet streaming service that rebroadcasts TV shows.  And like every other steaming service, it’s now producing original content.

And Monday is when they release the new episode of one of my very favorite stories.  It involves things that happened in my lifetime, time travel, and major events.

The book was written by Stephen King and is entitled 11/22/63.

The story involves a man who discovers a way to go back in time.  He then convinces another guy to go back and stop the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963.

One of the things he discovers is that history resists changing.

Every time he starts to make a change in the actions of the past, something happens to keep him from changing the course of history.

At one point he’s talking on a pay phone and about to make something different happen when a car drives right through the phone booth.  He barely has time to avoid being squished by the out of control car.  When it comes to the actual assassination day he can barely move as history fights him in a multitude of ways.  History wants to repeat itself, and fights to do so.

Sir Isaac Newton discovered the very same thing about objects on this planet.  (If you remember back to science class), he said objects in motion tend to want to stay in motion and objects not in motion tend to want to stay not in motion.

Those “laws” are why we have seat belts in cars.  It’s why we stuff newspaper or packing “peanuts” when we’re shipping items in boxes.  It’s why baseballs sometimes go through windows.

Objects in motion want to stay in motion.

So what does this have to do with changing struggling students into successful learners?

Academic and social skills are built on a foundation of underlying processing or learning skills.  When underlying skills are weak, it will cause students to have to work harder and longer than they should.

In order to eliminate learning challenges, we have to identify and develop those weak underlying skills and remediate the basic academic skills (reading, writing, spelling, or math) that were affected.  Seems pretty straightforward, right?

But humans are survivors.  And when something we have to do is a struggle, we find ways to cope with it or manage it, even if it’s negative and inefficient.  It may not be a good way to do it, but it’s our way.

As we start to address the underlying learning skills that are causing the students to struggle, we are reorganizing the brain – literally rewiring or making new neuropathways, or connections in the brain.

We’re breaking down old patterns or habits and creating new ones.  Creating new habits is hard.  Even if they will give us a happier, more successful life in the long run, we often resist what is new.

This brings to mind an adorable, precocious little girl who had serious attention challenges.  As we started working to create new patterns for attention and impulse control, we saw this resistance to change at work.  She would settle and become calm, engaged, and compliant, and then suddenly realize it, and jump up and revert to old behaviors.

This was distressing to her parents, as they saw the same thing at home, but gradually, things began to shift.  As she has become more organized and aware, her periods of calm and control have increased and are beginning to transfer to home and school.

So hang in there parents.  If your student is already working with us or in another therapy that you really believe will make the changes you’re looking for, you may see resistance and even some regression along the way.  But it’s part of the process that has to occur in order to get real and permanent change.

If you or your child is struggling with dyslexia, learning, or attention challenges and you’ve not yet found a way to make the real changes that are needed, maybe it’s time to get started.

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

I Want a Different Story For My Son

sonA parent was sharing with me recently about her son’s struggles in school.  He dreads going to school and comes home almost daily saying, “I’m not smart enough.” 

The school has offered this boy a 504 Plan, which will allow him to have accommodations in the classroom, such as fewer spelling words, taking tests in a quiet room, and a copy of another student’s notes in order to study.

The parent was told, “These accommodations will make things easier for your son.”

In despair, Mom says, “I don’t want the school to make things easier.   I want them to actually BE easier!”

Most people believe that if you have a learning challenge, you simply have to learn to live with it and get around it.  More and more parents are looking at their smart but struggling students and saying this is just not acceptable.  A life of hiding a learning problem, of sweating blood to compensate, of unrealized potential, and of feeling “not smart enough” is not OK anymore.   “I want a different story for my child.”son1

In spite of the fact that we all go into parenthood a little blindly, I find that parents, especially moms (sorry guys), know.   They know their child is smart enough; that laziness is NOT the problem; and that the child is trying hard and does care, no matter what it looks like.  And, they know that it doesn’t make sense for their kids to have to live this.  They believe that things actually can be easier for their child.

And they are right.  Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically changed or completely corrected.  Reading, writing, spelling, math, and school skills are supported by numerous underlying learning skills.   If one or more of these underlying skills is weak, it will cause the student to have to work harder, longer, and less effectively than expected.

But the brain is amazing!  We know now through 25 years of brain research and our 30 years in the trenches actually working with these challenges, that these underlying learning skills can be developed.  The brain can change.  New, more efficient neuropathways, or connections in the brain, can be made so that learning can be easier.  Once the brain is getting the information it needs, it can do the job it is meant to do – to learn!

John had dyslexia, an auditory processing problem, and a brain injury.  At 12, he had very limited reading, writing, comprehension, and math skills.  He struggled to listen, pay attention, and verbally express himself.  His parents were relentless in pursuing the kind of help for John that would actually address the underlying issues causing the learning problems.  Today, John is working independently and getting good grades as a high school senior, and is looking forward to starting at Arizona State University in the Fall.

Are you ready to write a different story for your child?

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

 

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

App Attack- Movement and Learning

momI just saw a commercial on T.V. that terrifies me a little bit.  It shows a proud young couple with their toddler who is learning to recognize numbers and letters and even learning to read through an app on his iPad.

Wow!  A toddler learning to read!  He’s going to be great in school, right?

Not necessarily.  Because believe it or not, recognizing a few words is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the skills needed to be an automatic and independent reader.

As enticing as technology is, it’s old-fashioned playtime that helps mold young brains.

Hopefully these young parents are wise enough to provide a strong balance of non-screen time for their little guy so that he can explore his environment and develop the truly foundational and absolutely critical skills for learning that come through movement.

Crawling, pulling up on a table, rolling on the floor, climbing, jumping, reaching – what seems like just child’s play, is developing the child’s brain, honing his internal organization so that by the time he gets into school, he has the skills he needs to sit in a chair, move his eyes across the page, pay attention to the teacher, write, and learn academics.

Want to support your child’s future learning?

  • Give babies tummy time!
  • Give toddlers and young children lots of unstructured playtime.
  • Get kids of all ages moving!mom1

Babies are born with reflexes that help them survive and get moving in the first months of life.  In the normal path of development, these reflexes integrate, taking the backseat to higher-level patterns of control.  It is through movement that these reflexes integrate and it is through this process that body and attention awareness and control, visual skills, and some aspects of auditory processing are developed.  If any of these early reflexes get stuck, or continue firing when not needed, they can cause interference to this process of development and to comfortable efficient learning.

When kids struggle in school, it is tempting to think that an App out there somewhere can fix it.  And there certainly are some that can be really helpful.  But what we know is that there are a tremendous number of underlying skills that support learning.  When any of these are weak or inefficient, they can cause smart students to struggle with attention or academic skills.

The encouraging thing is that these “stuck” or retained reflexes can be integrated and weak underlying skills can be developed.  When the pathways are open, the brain is available and ready to pay attention, learn, and function properly.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

The American Dream and LD

flagYesterday was President’s Day and it brings back memories from my childhood of my parents saying, “If you work hard enough, you can do anything.  You could even be president of the United States someday!”

What a great message for our kids!

As parents spend hours and hours and hours wading through tears, avoidance, and arguments to get homework done each day, it may not seem that “if you work hard enough, you can do anything” applies to their kids.

And that seems so unfair.  Why should kids who are as smart or smarter than their peers, be limited in what they can do because of dyslexia or other learning or attention challenges?

The answer is, they shouldn’t!  But in a world that requires reading, writing, and math skills, a learning disability can feel like an unscalable barrier.

MD

Pharmacist

College Professor

College Student

At 13, Michael was failing all of his classes in school due to an auditory processing disorder.  Who would have thought he could ever be a physician?

At 11, Hector had a language delay and serious attention problems.  Today he is a pharmacist.

In third grade, Jessica was a non-reader.  Now, with her doctorate, she teaches teachers how to teach reading!

Tessa spent most of her schooling in special educational classes due to dyslexia and math disabilities.  She is now thriving in her second year of college!

Hard work can go a long way in this world, but for students with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and struggles in school, hard work may not be enough.  My experience with this amazing population of students is that they actually work extremely hard (regardless of how it might appear), but their efforts don’t pay off as expected because they simply don’t have the skills to do the job.  And while reading, writing, spelling, and math skills are critical; those aren’t the only skills that I’m talking about.

I spoke with a college student the other day who is really struggling with his classes.  He shared with me that he has always had trouble reading, and he has spent a great deal of time forcing himself to read the longest, hardest books he could find, but more reading has not solved the problem.

That is because there are many underlying processing/learning skills, such as memory, attention, auditory and visual processing, processing speed, sensorimotor integration, and language processing and comprehension, that provide the foundation that is needed in order for students – even very bright ones – to learn comfortably and efficiently at their potential.

It is a very common belief that if you have a learning or attention challenge, you just have to try harder, be more motivated, and find ways to work around your challenges.  Ask any parent, person, or family dealing with learning or attention challenges and they will tell you that this is not acceptable.  And it’s not!

The brain research over the last 25 years and our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges assures us that the underlying skills that support efficient learning can be developed, paving the way for true and permanent remediation of reading disabilities and other academic struggles.

Bright students with dyslexia and other learning challenges do not have to be limited and their hard work really can pay off.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

I’m Not Lazy! I’m Coping!

piMy mom and I have season tickets to the Rubicon, a wonderful little professional theater in Ventura, CA.  Yesterday we saw a play that takes place towards the end of WWII.  The main character is a young man, Raleigh, who had enlisted in the army but was discharged before he could serve because he has epilepsy.

Raleigh’s mother, a crotchety older woman, is embarrassed that her grown son is not serving in the war, saying that he has always been lazy – that whenever he doesn’t want to do something, he has these “fits” to get out of it.  Of course, she is completely wrong.

Raleigh holds his head up and acts like he doesn’t care, but the truth is that he desperately wants to serve and hates that he can’t drive, be a soldier, or get a job because of his condition.  He can’t even go to college, because all openings are reserved for those returning from the war.

This made me think about our students.  No matter what it looks like on the outside, they want to succeed.  They want their efforts to be reflected in their grades.

Smart kids who struggle with learning or attention know that they are struggling – even at a young age.  They can look around the classroom and see that everyone else is finished before they are; that their grades are not as good; that while others get to go out to recess, they have to stay in to finish their work, or have to spend their lunchtime getting help from the teacher.

People are survivors and our kids are smart and creative, so they find ways to cope and cover their challenges.  One may be the class clown because, “If I’m funny, maybe no one will notice that I really can’t do this.”  Others may take the role of perfect little helper or be so quiet that they fly under the radar.  Maybe they become the “bad kid” and just refuse to do things or lose their homework on purpose.  However they mange to cover it, learning and attention problems eventually chip away at their self-esteem.

Repeatedly, I hear from parents, I just want my happy child back!  I want him to feel confident.  I want her to love learning and feel like she can do anything.

Increase in confidence is one of the first changes that we see with students as we begin to develop the weak underlying skills that have caused their learning challenges!

Success in reading, writing, spelling, math and all those academic subjects taught in school, rests in large part on many different underlying learning/processing skills that allow the brain to get and organize the information needed for learning.  It has been traditionally believed that if you have dyslexia, learning challenges, or attention problems, you just have to learn to live with it – to compensate or get around it.  Hence the creative coping strategies!

The truth is that most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by first identifying and developing the underlying skills that are not supporting the learner well enough, and then remediating the affected basic academic skills.  We have see this thousands of times over the last 30 years and the brain research in the last 25 years has proven that the brain can be retrained.  Our bright but struggling students do not have to resort to coping strategies to survive school.

They are not lazy.

They are not unmotivated.

They do try hard enough.

They do care.

And with the right kind of help, they can let go of their coping strategies and become the confident, independent learners they have the potential to be!

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

Why Does My Child Act This Way?

How Retained Reflexes Impact Behavior and LearningChild

There was a big snowstorm on the east coast a couple of weeks ago.  It caused over 2000 airline flights to be cancelled.  I assume people got to their destinations eventually, but I also imagine that it caused a great deal of anxiety and disruption to people’s lives.

Just as air travel is dependent upon an organized system of flight patterns, our nervous system is organized around a system of reflexes.  Primitive reflexes support survival and development in infants, to be replaced with higher-level reflexes as the brain and muscles mature.  Reflexes need to be working properly in order for us to move through life with ease and flow.

When reflexes are not integrated, or working properly, they are like cancelled flights and closed airports, causing disruption, disorganization, and distress to the person’s functioning, attention, and learning, and family.

I had the pleasure of attending a marvelous QRI (Quantum Reflex Integration) workshop this past week.  If reinforced for me again how critical properly working reflexes are to optimal functioning.  Retained/not integrated reflexes are often at the root of the behavior that causes parents worry and wonder:

Why does my child act this way?

Did you know that:

Bedwetting beyond the age of 5 and sleep problems may be related to a retained Spinal Perez reflex?

A child who hates to wear shoes may have a retained Babinski reflex?

The child who continually drops or knocks things over when he turns his head, may have a retained ATNR (Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex)?

An aggressive, defiant child prone to temper tantrums may have a retained Fear Paralysis Reflex?

An infant with problems nursing may have an inactive Grasping Reflex?

A child who craves sweets and tends to snack rather than eat whole meals may have a retained Moro Reflex?

A student with memory and reading problems may have a retain STNR (Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex).

A student who speaks well but can’t get her thoughts on paper may have a retained ATNR reflex?

A student with poor organizational skills may have an unintegrated Landau Reflex?

The list goes on and on.  To me, it is fascinating to see how everything is connected.  Frustrating or difficult behaviors and challenges with learning are related to something.  They are not about not caring, being unmotivated, bad parenting, or being “bad kids.”  They are related to reflexes and underlying skills that are not supporting the person well enough.

The encouraging thing is that these reflexes can be integrated and weak underlying skills can be developed.  When the pathways are open, the brain is available and ready to pay attention, learn, and function properly.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

Dyslexia –Talents, Tears, and Solutions

CarA friend at church was catching me up on her grown sons.  As she talked about the incredible mechanical abilities of one of her sons, who can completely take apart car and motorcycle engines and easily reconstruct them, I thought, “He must be dyslexic.”

Certainly not every person with strong mechanical abilities is dyslexic, but there is something really special about the dyslexic thinking style that fosters talents that require visual spatial thinking.

Our dyslexic learners are often big picture, conceptual thinkers who see the world differently.  They can see how things fit together without ever looking at a set of instructions.  They see creative solutions that others often don’t think of.  They can mentally get a birds eye view of what’s happening on the field, allowing them to predict the path of players and puck or ball in sports.  Because of this particular thinking style, we find that many actors, artists, entrepreneurs, and sports stars are also dyslexic.

Perhaps this is also why our dyslexic students experience such tremendous frustration with their reading, writing, and spelling difficulties.  It tends to be our dyslexic students who put up the greatest resistance to dealing with print.  They have such strong abilities in some areas, yet those abilities do not seem to serve them well in school, causing their self-esteem to take a severe beating.

We have been working with dyslexia for over 30 years and these students are still teaching me what they experience when they look at the page, as well as the creative ways they have come up with to either avoid reading altogether or cope with and hide their reading challenges.

Most students who struggle with reading, including those with dyslexia, have difficulty processing the individual sounds in words.  They may be good at guessing at whole words, but struggle to think about the number, order, and identity of sounds within words.  They tend to add, omit, or change sounds in words when reading and spelling.

Visually, it may be difficult for the dyslexic learner to look at the page.  If they have a strong visual-spatial thinking style, which many do, they may see the letters 3-dimensionally or mentally look at the letters and words from all different angles.  This can make it seem like letters and words are raised, moving, pulsating, mirror image, or backwards.  Students tell me that the words may look like “blobs” if they try to focus on them for too long.

In spite of all the brain research to the contrary, most people still believe that if you’re dyslexic, you just have to learn to live with it and find ways around –that it cannot be corrected or changed.

What we know from working with thousands of children and adults with dyslexia and other learning challenges over the years, is that the underlying auditory and visual processing skills needed for easy, efficient reading and spelling can be developed.  When the brain is processing the sounds in words, and able to perceive the letters and words on the page without disorientation, reading and spelling can be completely remediated.

I find dyslexic learners to be some of the most engaging, clever, and intelligent of students.  It is such fun to see them blossom and excel when their mental energy is no longer being diverted towards avoidance, hiding, or getting around their reading challenges.

I periodically run into parents of past students.  I love hearing what’s happened to those students once their learning challenges were corrected.  The moms of two formerly dyslexic former students said that their sons were, respectively, “a voracious reader” and a “perpetual student.”  Both young men now have two Masters degrees and are successful adults.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

The Making of Winners and Learners

Parents, Pushing the Limits, and Time Make Golden Globe Winners and Change the Future for Struggling Students

GGLast night at the Golden Globe Awards, nearly every winner thanked their parents. They also thanked those who pushed them to their limits so that they could be the best they could be.

When Leonardo DiCaprio won Best Actor for The Revenant, he mentioned initial talks about the film 2 years ago.

What does this have to do with students with learning challenges?

  1. Parents, you are the anchor for your kids. I meet desperate, heartbroken, exhausted parents everyday that just want to find a way to help their kids be more confident and independent learners.  They see the potential their kids have and simply cannot understand why school is such a struggle – why homework is taking hours upon hours.  They don’t stop looking for answers and no matter what it takes, they stand right there with their child.
  1. Struggles in school related to diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disabilities or dyslexia CAN be changed, but it’s going to take some “pushing.” When students with good intelligence struggle in school, it’s usually because there are underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting them well enough.  As a result, these students have to work harder or longer than expected.

Brain Research and our 30 years of experience show us that the brain can be retrained to process information more quickly and efficiently.  The weak underlying skills can be developed so that students CAN learn to read, write, spell, do math, communicate, and manage their time and attention more easily.

Here’s the key to this kind of cognitive training:  You have to be working on the right skills and you have to push the learner to the edge of the comfort zone.  The things that stretch us the most, will make the greatest change in the brain.

  1. Correcting learning challenges, including dyslexia, takes time. It is a process.  It is not a magic pill, but thankfully, it is not a forever process either.  When students start into our cognitive educational therapy, I know that there is going to be a period of time where they are still struggling in school and taking hours with homework, while they are starting to correct the problem.  But hang in there parents (and adult students).  With consistency, things will change.  The gap will begin to close.  But just as movies are months and years in the making, these kinds of permanent changes in learning will take time.

Most of our students spend 9 to 18 months with us, but depending upon the number and severity of challenges and the number of hours per week that a student can attend, it may be more.  What we’re after is life-changing!  Like an award winning movie, it’s worth the time and effort.

Recently a parent asked a very relevant question:  “If this is working, why is my child still failing in school?  Can’t you just work on his schoolwork?”

The student in question is 12 years old, and has very weak auditory and visual processing, reading, writing, and spelling skills.  He has good comprehension and memory, which he relied on in the primary grades, but the demands of 6th grade are just too great.  His weak skills make it impossible for him to:

  • Get all of the information taught in class
  • Take good notes
  • Get his assignments written accurately in his planner
  • Read assignments well enough to really understand them
  • Express himself on paper
  • Read test questions correctly
  • Complete tests in the time allotted

Helping this student with schoolwork may help him pass his classes by the skin of his teeth, but at the end of the school year, nothing will have changed. The same learning challenges will exist.  If we want to make a real impact on this boy’s chances as a student, we have to go after the underlying skills that are causing him to struggle in the first place.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

Efficient Brain Pathways Lead to Stronger, Easier Learning

Welcome 2016!

BikeMy husband David and I spent the first day of the new year taking an 18 mile bike ride at the beach with old friends.  What a great day!

The bike path is fairly flat (always a plus!), has an unobstructed ocean view, and has a great sound track!  There are just a couple of spots where we have to leave the beach and veer up onto the street, carrying our bikes up a set of stairs to get there.

Those few spots are like little glitches in the pathway – a part that’s incomplete.  Which got me thinking about the pathways for learning in the brain.  (I know, that’s a really big leap – but that’s where my brain tends to go, since I spend so much of my time thinking about learning and learning challenges).

The brain is all about taking sensory input and reacting to it in some way.  As we learn, neural pathways, or connections in the brain, are created so that we can process and respond automatically.  The brain likes to fit new learning into pathways it already has, reinventing parts of the pathway as needed.

But what if the pathway is incomplete or inefficient?  Kind of like our beach pathway that quit suddenly, causing us to have to carry our bikes up to the road.  Now the learning, the response, or in our case, the bike ride, is disrupted.

For students, unintegrated reflexes or weak processing skills can cause disruptions in learning, leading to problems with reading, writing, spelling, math, organization, memory, or attention.

Reflexes are part of the most basic workings of the nervous system.  When integrated, they are automatic and fire only when needed.  When unintegrated, they create a glitch in the pathway.  Students with unintegrated reflexes may be able to compensate for them, but now they have to divert attention and energy from the learning.  For example, a retained Spinal Galant reflex may cause a student to be sensitive to any stimulus or touch to their back.  These students tend to fidget and squirm in their seats due to stimulus to the back from their chair or clothing.  If they have to consciously think about sitting still, it takes attention and mental focus away from the task they are supposed to be doing.

The same is true with weak processing skills.  If a student has put conscious attention into listening, seeing the words or organization on the page, thinking about the sounds in words, understanding language, or remembering, there is less mental energy available for learning.  Students will have to work harder and longer than they should.

Learning Disabilities and Struggling Students

Whether a student has a diagnosed learning disability or minor struggles in school, the culprit is most often related to a weakness or inefficiency in one or more of the underlying learning skills (including unintegrated reflexes and processing skills).  This causes students to have to work harder and longer than expected and often with a lesser result.

Correcting Learning Challenges

Dyslexia, learning disabilities, and struggles with attention or academics can chip away at a student’s self esteem and impact nearly every aspect of a child’s and their family’s life.  Smart, talented kids can decide that they are dumb.  Older students and adults may find ways to cope with their challenges, but compensations are not comfortable or efficient, and often keep them from becoming as independent as they should be.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Does your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

Did I Waste Time and Money on Therapy?

DSeveral years ago, we had a student whose challenges with speech articulation were so significant that his mom explained on our first meeting, that there were certain sounds that he could not physically say.

Grayson was 11 and had had private speech therapy as well as speech services at school for most of his life.  After 3 weeks of sessions at Stowell Learning Center, Grayson was able to say every sound both in isolation and in connected speech.  His speech therapist at school, who did not know he was attending the learning center, said at his IEP meeting, “Have you noticed how much clearer Grayson’s speech has gotten in the last 3 weeks?”

Last Saturday, as I walked through the waiting room in our center, a mom shared with me that after 5 years of speech therapy at school, her son no longer qualified for services.  She was thrilled.  Speech, she said, had not been making a difference for some time, but after 3 months at the Learning Center, he had made so much progress that he no longer needed the extra help with speech at school.

It made my day to see this mom so happy and to hear how life at home was changing for all of them as a result of our work at the Learning Center.  Do we get to take all the credit?  No, not really.  It takes the patience and persistence of parents, and I have no doubt that all of the previous support provided to our students at school and through other therapies play a part.

But here’s why we can see changes that don’t seem to occur

with other interventions:

Learning, including speaking, paying attention, organization, reading, spelling, math, and writing is built upon a foundation of underlying processing skills.  These are skills such as auditory and visual processing, attention, body awareness and control, memory, and reasoning.  These are not typically taught, but rather are assumed to be in place when children go to school.   When any of these underlying skills are weak, it can cause students to struggle more than would be expected.

In the case of our students with speech challenges, the weak area was auditory processing.  This is not a person’s hearing, but rather the way that the brain perceives and thinks about the information that comes in through the ears.  Auditory processing has a dramatic impact on speech, communication, reading, comprehension, social skills, and learning in general.

Weak auditory processing may cause a person to get an incomplete, inaccurate, confusing, or delayed information when listening – kind of like a bad cell phone connection.  Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a pioneer in sound therapy research, said that we cannot reproduce what we cannot hear.  For our students with trouble clearly enunciating sounds and pronouncing words, improving auditory processing allows them to “hear” or process the sounds and words more accurately, which then makes it possible for them to say them more accurately and clearly as well.

Were previous therapies a waste?

No, most likely not.  But if those therapies did not work as well as hoped or expected, there were almost certainly underlying skills that were not providing the needed foundation for what was being taught.  Developing the needed processing/learning skills allows the previously taught skills as well as any current remediation to make more sense and stick.

Does your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  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 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

5 Tips for Empowering Kids and Building Self-Esteem

seMost of the parents I speak to would put “Self-Esteem” at the top of their list of concerns for their children or teens with learning or attention challenges.  And rightly so, as confidence and self-esteem often take a beating when students struggle in school or with homework.

You’re so awesome!  You’re so smart!  You’re an amazing athlete!

Praise is good right?  But what kind of praise?  Our students with dyslexia, attention deficit, giftedness, and other learning differences are plenty smart, but praising them for being smart may have the opposite effect of what you might expect.

New York Magazine published an article by Po Bronson called How Not to Talk to Your Kids, The Inverse Power of Praise.  In it, he discusses a study of 400 fifth graders in the New York schools by Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia University.  Their findings indicate that praising kids for being smart actually caused them to give up more easily and back off from trying things that might be challenging – better to give up or choose an easier task than to not live up to “being smart.”

Some of our very bright students who struggle with reading or some aspect of learning, absolutely shutdown when praised.  They don’t believe it and feel they can’t live up to it.  However, there are ways to give students the encouragement that they need to keep going and develop confidence in themselves as learners.

Here are some tips for empowering our kids.

Praise efforts, not smarts: 

“You kept at this problem even though it was hard!  You never gave up!”

“You finished this whole math page without getting distracted once!”

“You were really looking for times when you could make a pass in soccer today!”

Celebrate small steps:

“I noticed you got your homework copied in your planner for two classes!  That’s a great habit that will help you all through school!” 

Celebrate the strengths:

I like how you always take time to put your homework in your homework folder.”

Focused praise helps them see strategies: 

“You’re getting more independent because you’ve been taking the time to read the directions on each assignment. Great job!”

Mistakes are tools by which we learn:

“Every time we make a mistake, it gives our brain a chance to learn!  The brain is like a muscle.  When it has to work hard to solve a problem or think about something hard, it grows stronger, just like a muscle!”

 

Self-Esteem is Built on Real Skills

 Students spend at least 12 years in school and use many of the skills they developed in school for the rest of their lives.  When reading, math, or other aspects of learning are difficult, self-esteem can be impacted, even with the right kind of praise and support, because self-esteem is also built on real skills.

Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning skills.  If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top.  Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder.  When the underlying learning skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should.  Compensating for weak underlying skills will divert attention and energy from the learning task.

I want our students to have an “I think I can” attitude, but even more importantly, I want them to have a solid foundation of underlying skills that will allow them to love learning and reach their potential without having to push themselves to the breaking point day after day.

The great news is, the underlying skills that support efficient, comfortable academic learning can be developed.  The brain can develop new, more effective neuropathways, or connections so that learning can be easier and academic remediation can stick!

Does your child struggle with learning or attention?  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 targeted physical and cognitive training.  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

Just Give Me My Sweet Kid Back!

qwDon’t let dyslexia and other learning challenges rob your child of confidence!

Periodically, I get the pleasure of hearing from former clients or their parents.  Last week, I got a call from a parent with an update on her son who is now happily married and a brand new father!  He attended college and is now a valued worker in his job and laying the groundwork for starting his own business.

But Mom was remembering that when she brought her son to Stowell Learning Center at 11 years old, he was a very discouraged, angry boy with spelling, writing, comprehension, and social difficulties.   She remembered saying to me, “I’m not concerned with academics right now, just give me my sweet kid back.”

At our Information Meetings, I hear parents echo this same sentiment over and over.  “He doesn’t have to be a straight A student,” they say, “I just want him to feel good about himself; to be confident; to know he can do it.”

Dyslexia and other diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disabilities can rob smart, talented, creative students of confidence and cause them to come home saying, “I’m so dumb.”

Because they are smart, they can look around the classroom and quickly recognize that they can’t complete the work as quickly or as easily as their classmates.  They may be able to hide behind being the class clown and making everyone laugh, their athletic prowess, or their quiet, polite manner that allows them to fly under the radar, but their self-esteem is taking a hit.

One high school student who attended our information meeting said, “I just want my grades to reflect the effort I put in.”

Learning difficulties and struggles in school and/or social situations are most often the result of weak or inconsistent learning skills.  These underlying skills cause interference to learning.  Unfortunately, they do not typically improve with time or traditional tutoring.

As a result, students become more frustrated and anxious about their learning challenges.  They may become angry or withdrawn.  They may appear unmotivated.  They may make poor decisions, feel like a failure, and quit believing in themselves.

It does not have to be this way.  These issues can be changed.  But to permanently solve a learning problem, the underlying skills must be developed.   With specialized training the brain can learn to think and process information in more effective ways.  Students don’t have to go through life crippled by their learning challenges.

 

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life that is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

Success…Gratitude…Thankfulness

“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. 
The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”

Alfred North Whitehead

Everyday at Stowell Learning Centers, we get the privilege of helping children and adults with learning and attention challenges achieve success.

More aware…better at making friends…better readers…higher grades…more confident…easier to understand…better at math…more coordinated…happier, healthier, more successful all-around learners!

What a joy!

I am so thankful for:

  • Kids who never give up
  • Parents who refuse to accept “coping” as a solution
  • Grandparents who pour out time, love, and resources to help
  • The bright, creative, persistent kids who are our students
  • The tremendous commitment of our moms and dads to drive, to fund, to practice, and encourage
  • Incredible, dedicated staff
  • Maverick mentors who knew there had to be more that could be done for struggling learners
  • Our amazing, trainable brains
  • My husband, David, and grown children, Christy and Kevin, who have given constant support and encouragement on this journey

After over 30 years, I am still learning and still excited everyday by the work I have been given to do.  I am so very thankful for the truly marvelous and dedicated staff at our Chino and Irvine Centers, who tirelessly support families and guide students in developing the learning and academic skills they need to function at their potential.

We get to change the future for smart, amazing kids who may never have gotten there without us.  How awesome is that!

Wishing you overflowing gratitude and blessings this Thanksgiving!

 

At Stowell Learning Centers, we are dedicated to correcting learning challenges including learning disabilities and dyslexia.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

I Can’t Read a Thing, but My Teacher Thinks I’m A Reader

RI Can’t Read a Thing, but My Teacher Thinks I’m A Reader

                        –Dyslexic Second Grader

How is it possible for a dyslexic non-reader to fool her parents and teacher to the point that they honestly believe that she can read?

Dyslexic learners are generally quite bright and often have very good comprehension.  If they also have good language and memory skills, they may be able to memorize the stories – especially in first or second grade.

I have found our dyslexic students, both children and adults, to be remarkable.  They are very perceptive and creative.  They know what a reader should look like and can mimic the behavior even though they struggle to read and write.  If they can recognize enough of the words, they can make fairly good guesses abut the context and use their deductive reasoning to answer questions.

If they can’t read enough of the words, I’ve seen many dyslexic students simply make up their own story with such good inflection that they sound like they really are reading.

Some dyslexic students get very disoriented when looking at the words on the page.  The words may seem to move around, disappear, or change places.  Some students have said that if they look at the words too long, the sentences turn into lines across the page. To counteract this, students may read extremely fast, filling in whatever seems to make sense to them. Their reading is inaccurate, but it’s so fast, that the listener may not be sure what was said and not pick it up.

Fluent, easy reading requires an internal understanding of the sounds in words and the ability to automatically decode.  Dyslexic students have varying degrees of challenge with processing the sounds and sounding out words.  When this is a key issue for them, they often mumble or slur through words that they don’t know.  Instead of recognizing the reading problem, others may think that the student is just shy or just speaks softy.

I have seen dyslexic students successfully hide their extremely weak reading behind being the class clown, the sports star, the actor, the social butterfly, or the sweet, just-under-the-radar helper.  They may use their intelligence to deduce answers when they really haven’t been able to read most of the text.

I am in awe of the ingenuity of our dyslexic students as they find ways to hide their challenges and navigate the world of print without really being able to read at the level needed.  One student that we tested recently got all the way into medical school before his compensations for a dyslexic thinking style and his 6th grade reading level caught up with him.

Being able to compensate is a survival mechanism that helps students to manage socially and in school, but the ramifications can be many in the long run:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor performance misunderstood by parents and teachers
  • Feel stupid because they have to work so much harder and longer than others and do poorly anyway
  • Don’t get the help they need because it seems like they can do it

Compensations only last for so long, and at some point, the student simply can’t keep up with the demands of the grade level.

The good news is, that most dyslexic challenges can be corrected.  The underlying auditory and visual memory and processing skills that support being able to read and spell can be identified and retrained so that students with dyslexia and other reading challenges can learn to read!  This takes specialized and intensive cognitive training and reading/spelling remediation, but it is absolutely possible.

Dyslexic learners can keep their talents and creative thinking style and become proficient, independent readers, and it is possible at any age.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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, 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.

Frightened for My Child!

All the local theme parks advertising their fright-filled Halloween events, made me remember a deliciously scary Haunted House that I attended when I was 12.  The creepiest thing was being blindfolded and feeling “eyeballs” (AKA peeled grapes).

ksf

It’s fun to be scared when you know it’s not real, but many parents spend years of sleepless nights feeling truly frightened for their children who have learning or attention challenges

“What will happen when my child gets to high school?”

“Will my child be able to go to college or be an independent adult?”

“What damage is being done to my child’s self-esteem when he tries so hard and still gets poor grades?”

“What if we try one more thing and it doesn’t help?”

When children struggle in school, it’s scary and confusing.  Smart, talented kids can have mind-boggling struggles with reading or other academic skills.  They seem to get something one day and forget it the next.  Families spend hours and hours slaving over homework, often to see disappointing results.

At our last Parent Information Meeting, every parent shared their desire for their child to be able to become more independent.

That is exactly our goal at Stowell Learning Centers – to help children and adults with dyslexia and diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disabilities to become comfortable, independent learners.

Our work with 1000’s of children and adults over the last 30 years, and the brain research in neuroplasticity shows us that this is absolutely possible.  When smart students struggle with reading or other academic areas, it is almost always because there are weak underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  These are skills such as memory, attention, visual and auditory processing, processing speed, and language comprehension that are not generally taught in school, but are critical to comfortable, easy learning.

When underlying skills are weak, even very bright or gifted students can struggle.  But the brain is amazing!  Through targeted and intensive cognitive training, new, more effective connections, or neuropathways can be developed.  The brain can learn to process information more easily.  Academic skills that were hard can be remediated and stick!

Developing underlying learning skills and permanently improving learning and attention problems changes the future for struggling students!  Experience joy instead of fear as you and your child navigate the school years.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

 

 

 

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)

Why Isn’t the School Helping My Child?

SchEvery week, I meet parents at our information meetings who feel discouraged with the schools.  Families raw from spending hours and hours doing homework every night feel alone and frustrated that the schools aren’t doing more.

As a former mainstream and special education teacher, I would like to shed a little light on the subject.

Doesn’t Qualify – No Problem??

Students with learning or attention challenges are often quite bright.  In spite of their poor performance, their intelligence, coping strategies, and intense mental effort may cause them to score just high enough in a psycho-educational evaluation that they don’t qualify as officially having a learning disability, making them exempt from resource or special education help.

Parents are told that there is no problem and their child needs to try harder or put in more time.  For parents crushed by their child’s tears, frustration, and hours and hours of time spent on homework, this answer is just not acceptable.  It makes them feel misunderstood and ignored.

Just because a child doesn’t qualify, doesn’t mean there’s not a problem.  In fact, research backs up the fact that approximately 20- 25 percent of students in school have some degree of struggle and do not qualify for special help.

Special Ed Isn’t Helping!

I would venture to say that this is not true.  But it feels true to parents who have to hear their defeated child say, day after day, “I’m so dumb.”

Parents can see the bright child beneath the struggles and want the problem fixed. Many students, in spite of special education services, continue to struggle year after year.  As a result, it often seems like the school is doing nothing.

The reality is, that most of our students’ teachers care deeply and are devastated to see the ongoing struggle that so many of their students face.  Teachers are required to teach subject areas and curriculum.  There are a tremendous number of very specific skills and standards that teachers are required to help their students meet.  Even in special education, the job revolves around helping students acquire the required knowledge.

This is what schools do.  It’s their job.  And thank goodness it is, as no one else is doing it.

BUT… academic success requires a strong foundation of underlying learning/processing skills (skills such as memory, attention, auditory and visual processing, processing speed, language, and perceptual motor integration and control).  When any of these skills are weak or inefficient, it can cause students of any age to struggle with learning – to have to work harder and longer, often with lesser results.

If we want to correct a learning challenge, we have to determine what underlying skills are not supporting the learner well enough and develop those skills.  Then the academic remediation will make sense and stick.  Students with at least average intelligence can and should become comfortable independent learners.

This is what we do at Stowell Learning Center. We develop the critical underlying learning skills and remediate the basic academics – reading, writing, spelling, and math.

We do not take on the school’s job of teaching higher academics.  We don’t have the time or training to do it.  Schools do not take on our job of developing underlying skills.  They don’t generally have the time, knowledge, or funding to do it.

What schools do is try to support struggling learners as they navigate academic subjects.  They don’t eliminate the problem.  Most don’t even realize that the problem can be eliminated.  That’s frustrating, as kids spend a tremendous number of hours in school.

But Parents, look at teachers as your allies.  Help them understand and empathize with your child.  A supportive teacher can bolster a child’s self esteem and confidence and help him manage his academics better than he would without the support.

Then look for outside help to get those underlying skills identified and improved.  A combination of school support and outside development of skills is going to be your child’s best bet.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

What Does a Meltdown Mean?

GJessie, was a cute 7-year-old girl when she came to work with us at the Learning Center.  But her behavior wasn’t so cute.  In fact, when I think back on her first several sessions, I think of the Charles Schultz character, Pigpen, NOT because she was messy or dirty – far from it – but because she was surrounded by such extreme anxiety and angst.

Jessie was severely dyslexic and had major meltdowns at the first sign of print, a pencil, or paper.

When Jessie left us as a third grader, she was reading at the top of her class.  She was a happy, engaging girl who skipped in and out of her sessions.

So what were those meltdowns all about?

Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning skills.  If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top.  Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder.  When the underlying skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should.

This can be extremely frustrating to smart kids who can, even at a very young age, look around the classroom and realize that they are not measuring up, no matter how hard they try.

Children experience meltdowns when confronted with schoolwork or homework for various reasons, but in most cases, the problem is related to challenges with underlying learning skills, particularly those at the bottom, or most foundational level of the Learning Skills Continuum – Neurodevelopmental, or Core, Learning skills.

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, producing anxiety and causing the person to have to work too hard and less efficiently than would be expected.  This is called neurodevelopmental delay.

Challenges in this area might show up as follows:

  • Poor posture
  • Awkward or uncoordinated
  • Fatigue, low stamina, anxiety
  • Laying on desk
  • Confusion with directions, spatial orientation, letter reversals
  • Hard time getting started or following through
  • Lack of organization – always losing or forgetting things
  • Poor handwriting
  • Can’t sit still
  • Trouble getting self going
  • Operating in “fight or flight”

With stimulation, primitive reflexes can be integrated and more efficient neurological connections can be made, supporting attention, visual skills, spatial orientation, organization, coordination, and stamina.

Jessie had many retained reflexes and experienced a great deal of disorientation and symbol confusion.  With a combination of Core Learning Skills training and specific and sequential reading skills remediation, Jessie absolutely blossomed!  No more meltdowns, no more angst!

I am so thankful everyday, for the dedicated clinical researchers in the field of learning and the brain that have contributed to our understanding of the Learning Skills Continuum.  What a joy to see the amazing transformations that our students get to make as those underlying skills are developed so that they can become the learners they have the potential to be!

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

“I’m Not a Reading Person”

PicLast week I had the pleasure of testing two very bright and very different dyslexic students.  One was 9.  We’ll call him Chris.

Chris had tremendous confusion with letters.  He not only reversed b and d, but most other similar-looking letters, such as h and n; i and l; and t, f, and j.  He read by guessing at words based on the first and last letter in the word.

When I asked him if it was difficult to look at the words on the page, he said,

“I’m not a reading person.”

He went on to say that if he looks at words for too long, they get fuzzy and that he closes his eyes to make the fuzziness disappear.  Matter-of-factly, he said, “But I can handle it most of the time.”

Chris is definitely not a reading person – at least not at this time.  As a fourth grader, he cannot read, but he certainly makes a valiant attempt at it.

Isn’t it amazing what our kids do to survive – to try to do what’s expected! 

The other young man, Jack, is 16.  He also is dyslexic, but he has managed to maintain fairly acceptable performance in regular high school classes.  He seems to do well on homework but fails most tests.  So the question being asked by parents and teachers, and even himself, is,

“Are the low test scores the result of poor motivation to study, lack of focus, anxiety, poor attention?”

Teenage comes with some attitude.  And if you continually try hard and get a disappointing result, your attitude may indicate that you don’t really care, but here’s what I saw with Jack:

Jack is putting out an exceptional amount of mental energy to manage at school.  He is bright enough and quietly determined enough that the challenges he faces are subtle to others looking on, but for him, the cost is performance anxiety and deteriorating self-esteem.

Working with Jack and Chris reminded me, again, how hard students with dyslexia and other learning challenges work each and every hour in school.  Because they often can’t compete with their peers, even with excessive time, effort, and energy, it may look like they aren’t trying their best.  Coping with a learning or attention challenge day in and day out is exhausting.  In virtually every case, beneath the surface of poor grades, homework battles, and inconsistent performance is a student who is putting out far more mental energy and effort than the top students in the class.

Learning to read and spell easily and automatically depends upon a solid set of underlying learning /processing skills.  The auditory system in the brain has to be able to process the number, order, and identity of sounds inside of words (phonemic awareness).  The visual system has to be able to see and discriminate each letter and word on the page clearly and in the correct order.  The brain has to be able to notice and pay attention to small, common sight words such as the, of, and if that don’t always follow the phonetic rules and don’t connect easily with a concept or mental image.  The language part of the brain has to be able to understand, sequence, and associate the meaning of the words and sentences.

Without these critical auditory, visual, and language processing skills, reading just doesn’t work.  If any one of these areas is weak, learners will struggle more than they should with reading and/or spelling.

At Stowell Learning Center, we identify the underlying skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  We look at exactly what is happening when a student is trying to read, spell, write, or do math.  Then, through specialized cognitive and learning skills programs, we help students develop the needed underlying skills and remediate the reading, writing, spelling, or math skills.

Students like Chris and Jack can and should become comfortable, independent learners.  They do not have to continue to struggle with dyslexia.  Dyslexia and learning challenges can change.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

 

Is the Reading Doctor in the House?

bookIt brought tears to my eyes when the parent of an 8-year-old girl shared what her daughter said to her as they left for school:

“Can you find me a doctor who can tell me why I can’t read?”

Like so many other dyslexic students, this young girl is bright, creative, and suffering.  She is smart enough to recognize that she is not on par with her classmates.  She is confronted with assignments all day long that she doesn’t have the tools to tackle.

Because they generally are bright and creative, children and adults with dyslexia can find ingenious ways to compensate:

  • They may become the class clown or the social butterfly because it plays to their strengths, and if you’re funny and popular, maybe no one will notice that you can’t read.
  • They may rely heavily on their memory, making it look like they are much more proficient readers than they are.
  • They may pretend that they are working in class, but not actually do anything until they can get home and where they can sit with a parent one-to-one to do the work.
  • They may be deducing what they’re reading based on looking at pictures and combining the scattered words they can recognize with their good general knowledge and comprehension to fill in the gaps.
  • One dyslexic high school student negotiated doing math homework for girls who would then do his English homework for him.

Coping with and hiding dyslexia or any learning challenge takes a tremendous amount of mental energy.  It is uncomfortable and exhausting.  But to most people  – teachers and parents included – it may look like the student is lazy or unmotivated.  After all, the student is bright and capable in other areas, so doesn’t it follow that he could do better if he chose to?

There are a number of underlying processing/learning skills that are critical to the process of reading and spelling.  Challenges with any of these underlying skills may make reading and spelling more difficult – inefficient for some, impossible for others.

Here are the critical skills:

Auditory Decoding:  The ability to perceive and discriminate a full range of sound frequencies; to get a clear, complete, and accurate message when listening.

Phonological Awareness:  The brain’s ability to think about the individual sounds in words as well as the sound combinations.

Segmenting and Blending Sounds:  The ability to break words apart into sounds and put sounds together to make words.

Visual Discrimination:  The ability to notice and tell the difference between visually similar letters, words, and word parts.

Visual Orientation:  The ability to automatically notice every letter in the word and every word in the sentence, in the correct order.

Visual Memory:  The ability to hold a mental image of words in memory in order to spell and recognize them.

These skills need to be automatic in order for students to quickly and easily recognize and sound out words, read fluently, and focus their mental attention on the meaning of what they are reading or writing.  If effort and energy is going into trying to make sense of what they see on the page, trial and error decoding, sorting out confusion with sounds or letter formation, reading and spelling becomes laborious and sometimes impossible.

I don’t know of a Reading Doctor or a Magic Reading Pill, but here’s what I do know:  ALL of these underlying skills can be developed.  Dyslexic learners CAN become good readers and spellers.  More reading will not do the trick, but identifying and correcting the weak underlying skills and then intentionally and sequentially remediating the reading and spelling skills will.

Over the past 30 years, we have had the opportunity to see severely dyslexic students – true non-readers at 9 or 10 years old – become proficient readers, honor students, college grads, and successful adults. 

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with dyslexia, reading, 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

“I Don’t Get It. What Do You Mean?”

Understanding and Correcting Comprehension Challenges

My daughter has learned that volunteering to wait for the next flight when hers is overbooked is a good way to add to her travel funds.  And since she has an insatiable desire to travel, she makes a habit of asking.

When flying home from Japan a few weeks ago, she texted me this exchange with the airline agent:

Me:  “Hello, Is the flight overbooked today?”

Lady:  “Yes.  Overbooked.”

Me:  Do you need volunteers?”

Lady:

huh

I laughed so hard! I could just picture the scene and the airline agent cocking her head to the side thinking, “What is this crazy American talking about?”

This “confused baby” picture has been making the rounds on social media.  His look of “Huh? I have no idea what you mean” is adorable!  But for students trying to understand a lesson in class or study for a test, that feeling of complete confusion is not much fun.

Critical underlying skills for comprehension include:

  1. Getting a clear message – accurate discrimination of sounds and syllables; auditory memory; “hearing” the flow and intonation of the language; attention to detail
  2. Visualizing while listening or reading – People who comprehend well “make a movie” in their head as they read or listen.  It is not possible to remember every word that is heard or read, but if the language is stored as images, the content and meaning can be retained and remembered easily.
  3. Understanding the gestalt, or whole idea of material heard or read and seeing how the details fit into the big picture.
  4. Understanding the story grammar, or the key content elements in material that is read or heard including who, what, when, where, main idea, problem, and resolution.
  5. Analyzing and answering questions:  Analyzing exactly what the author is asking and understanding what type of response is expected for various types of questions.
  6. Verbal problem solving:  Applying visualizing and analyzing skills to information in order to understand vocabulary, relationships, author’s intent, and subtleties in the text.

Challenges with any of these skills may cause students to have difficulty following directions; misunderstand lectures, conversations, test questions, and information they have read; and may affect their vocabulary and expressive language.

A student with weak comprehension skills may rely on rote memory to write down everything the teacher says, or memorize his study guide exactly, resulting in very dense unhelpful notes and poor test scores.  Questions phrased differently than the study guide will seem like completely different information.

Comprehension challenges are tricky because they are often very subtle.  On the surface, these students seem to use and understand language like everyone else, but they may struggle with relationships, humor, and people’s intention, and may tend to be quite literal in their take on things.  They may appear to have attention problems because they miss details, misinterpret what people say, and lose their focus when listening or reading.  Our brain will quit paying attention to something that just doesn’t make sense.

Just as with any other learning challenge, making real and permanent changes will require identifying and developing the underlying learning/processing skills needed to support the learner – in this case, skills such as auditory processing, memory, visual attention, and visualization.

Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with comprehension, 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

 

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

 

Back-to-School Apps Support Organization and Learning

appsThere are Apps for absolutely everything these days, and sure enough, there are even Apps for Back-to-School!

With so many students going back to school today or at least very shortly, I thought I’d share this article by John Patrick Pullen from Time Magazine:

6 Must-Have Back to School Apps

http://time.com/3982036/back-best-school-apps/

This article highlights some pretty incredible tools for students of any age:

  • Homework tracker
  • Digital flashcards
  • Language learning games
  • Bibliography formatter
  • School bus tracker
  • Reading comprehension builder

Amazing!  It’s a new and exciting world for students today!

What Apps Won’t Do

I’m not very technologically savvy, but I am all for taking advantage of what technology has to offer.  But as amazing as they are, Apps do have their limitations.  An App alone will not eliminate dyslexia or learning disabilities, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, or the struggles of students with inefficient processing skills.

Struggles with reading, math, writing, and organization can cause otherwise very capable students to have to work harder and longer than their peers, often with a lesser result.  At a Stowell Learning Center information meeting recently, a teenager who frequently got very low test scores shared that he wanted his work to reflect his intelligence and the tremendous amount of effort and time he put in.

Learning difficulties and struggles in school and/or social situations are most often the result of weak or inconsistent learning skills.  These underlying skills cause interference to learning.  Unfortunately, they do not typically improve with time or traditional tutoring.

As a result, students become more frustrated and anxious about their learning challenges.  They may become angry or withdrawn.  They may appear unmotivated.  They may make poor decisions, feel like a failure, and quit believing in themselves.

It does not have to be this way.  These issues can be changed.  But to permanently solve a learning problem, the underlying skills must be developed.   With specialized training the brain can learn to think and process information in more effective ways.  Students don’t have to go through life crippled by their learning challenges.

If you or your child are experiencing learning challenges and you’re ready for real and permanent changes…

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For details 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

The Auditory Processing – Emotional/Social Connection

12Last month at Stowell Learning Center Chino, 25 students participated in our SLC Science Lab – AKA Big Fun Mess and Parents’ Night Out. 

Only one of four experiments worked exactly as planned, but the night was a big success.

The students had a good time working together to make a liquid kaleidoscope, and homemade Silly Putty, Play Doh, and lip balm.  While some of our students are social butterflies, others are not so skilled.  Parents and staff loved seeing all the students getting a chance to laugh and be social.

People are social creatures.  Listening skills have a huge impact on our success or failure socially.  Listening is different than hearing.  Hearing is what our ears do, but listening is intentional.  It involves intentional attention.

Our brain looks for patterns.  The emotional part of the brain helps us pick out the important patterns in the sound around us and send it to several places in the brain so it can be processed.  In order to do this quickly, our brains must filter out the unimportant information.

Students who struggle socially, may actually be experiencing a failure of the brain’s inhibitory response – or filtering of unimportant sound.  As a result, they “hear” everything and cannot quickly focus on what’s important in order to give the expected response.  They may become overloaded and shutdown.   They may learn not to participate because they can’t keep up in conversations or discussions, causing them to say the wrong thing or get laughed at.  With extreme overload, they may respond by running away, screaming, making loud noises, or covering their ears.  These survival responses don’t endear them to their peers and make friendships difficult.

We know, through the brain research and our experience with thousands of students that auditory processing and listening skills can be developed.  The brain can be retrained to process sound more effectively so that students can learn and function in both the social and academic environments more comfortably, appropriately, and independently.

One of the key ways that we develop these critical auditory processing skills is through sound therapy, or auditory training programs (The Listening Program, inTime, iLs, or Samonas Sound Therapy).  We use a combination of passive and active auditory stimulation that involves daily home listening and specific lessons in the clinic that stimulate the auditory system to get a clear, accurate, and complete message when listening, while targeting the specific reading, spelling, comprehension, or language skills that the student also needs.

These are real and permanent solutions to struggles with listening, learning, or social skills.

If you or your child are experiencing auditory or other learning challenges and you’re ready for real and permanent changes…

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For details 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

Growing Pains- A Family Affair

growIf you are the parent of a growing child; if you’ve ever been the parent of a growing child; if you’re a child; or if you’ve ever been a child, you need to see the movie Inside Out.

My husband and I rarely see animated films, now that our kids are grown, but at my son’s recommendation, we went to see Inside Out.  It is an absolute “MUST SEE!”

Inside Out is an unbelievably creative and poignant look at growing up.  Don’t you wish you could see inside your child’s mind at times to better understand what in the world they are thinking?  Well, here’s your chance – a sneak peek at what’s going on in a growing child’s brain – oh, and a look at our own emotions and thinking as well.  Amazing!

Growing Pains

Growing pains are real, both physically and emotionally.  Just when we, as parents think we’ve got it down, our child enters a new phase, and there we all are, trying to figure it out again.  As the parent of two amazing grown children, I can tell you, that all those stages, as trying as some of them are, are necessary and worth it!

Growing Pains and Learning Challenges

Kids spend a tremendous amount of their childhood in school.  When school is hard, it’s like going to work everyday at a job you dislike, doing things that you don’t feel competent doing.  It’s discouraging, frustrating, and pretty tough on the self-esteem.

Students with learning challenges may need double the patience, time, and support from their parents as they navigate the emotional rollercoaster of normal growing pains and their struggles in school.  Parents may wonder if there will ever be light at the end of the tunnel, but speaking for the parents I see at our learning centers, they always seem to muster the extra strength and energy needed to be there for their kids.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Growing up simply takes time.  Eventually, we all get there.  But learning challenges don’t generally go away with time.  Students may come up with better coping strategies, but the struggles with school or learning still remain.

But here’s the great news:  Thirty years of our own clinical evidence and the current brain research proves that the brain can change.

There are a tremendous number of underlying processing skills that support comfortable and easy learning.  If any of these skills are weak or inefficient, attention may be stressed and learning may be more difficult than it should be.

But the brain is amazing!  With targeted and intensive brain training, new neuropathways, or connections in the brain can be made so that learning can be easier.  Once the brain is getting the information it needs to think with, the weak reading, language, math, or other academic skills can be remediated, permanently!

Neither growing pains nor learning challenges need to last forever.

 

If your child is struggling in school and you are looking for real solutions,

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

The Listening – Learning Connection

llIf you’re not listening, you’re not learning.  I think this is a pretty profound statement.  I realize there are many ways to learn, but our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges has shown that the vast majority of individuals who struggle with learning, including dyslexia and attention challenges, have difficulties with auditory processing, or listening.

Living with an auditory processing delay or a weakness with listening skills can be fatiguing and frustrating.  The ear has neurological connections to nearly every organ and function in the body as well as the attention, emotional, language, and learning centers in the brain.  As a result, poor listening skills can cause a person to experience difficulties with speaking, reading, spelling, comprehension, attention, communication, energy, and sense of well-being.

Good listening/auditory skills depend upon being able to take-in and process a very broad range of sound frequencies.  When the brain is not processing the full range of frequencies, the listener may get incomplete and inaccurate information – much like having a bad cell phone connection.

Individuals with weak auditory processing may

  • Miss details or parts of what was said
  • Mishear and therefore misunderstand or misinterpret information
  • Confuse similar sounding words
  • Have trouble sounding out or pronouncing words
  • Feel lost and confused
  • Feel anxious
  • Look like they are not paying attention
  • Have poor attention when listening
  • Give responses that don’t match the question or conversation
  • Withdraw or talk incessantly so that they don’t have to listen

Symptoms of Auditory Processing Delay

Does your child…

  • Say, “Huh?” “What?” frequently?  Often asks for things to be repeated?
  • Have normal hearing acuity but inconsistent response to auditory stimuli?
  • Difficulty following oral directions?
  • Short attention span?
  • Fatigue easily during auditory (listening) tasks?
  • Have poor long and short term memory?
  • Look at you when you’re speaking, but doesn’t appear to be listening?
  • Have trouble listening when there is background noise?
  • Have difficulty knowing where the sound is coming from?
  • Have difficulty with phonics, reading, or spelling?
  • Have mild speech or articulation problems?
  • Have disruptive behaviors (distracted, impulsive, frustrated)?
  • Often feel anxious or lost?
  • Have a history of ear infections?

These are symptoms of weak auditory processing skills and Auditory Processing Disorder.

Auditory Processing Challenges Misdiagnosed

Auditory processing has a profound impact on learning and behavior, but so often, it is not recognized as being the source of the problem.

My daughter and son both travel extensively for their jobs.  When they are overseas and we speak to them via Skpye, the connection is often very poor – cutting in and out.  As a result, listening and conversation becomes extremely taxing.  We try hard to piece together what each other are saying, but we find that we lose both attention and comprehension.  Conversations can become frustrating and even irritating.

It is obvious when a Skype or cell phone signal is bad, but very difficult to discern when the signal or message that the brain is getting in normal listening is compromised or confusing.  Attention drifts are often associated with an attention deficit.  Poor comprehension and direction following are seen as attention or motivation problems. Frustration, anxiety, and social challenges caused by poor listening skills are often viewed as psychological or emotional issues.

Reading problems almost always have auditory processing challenges at the root – at least in part.  Research tells us that the key factor in success or failure in reading is a set of auditory skills called phonological awareness.  This is the brain’s ability to think abut the sounds and syllables in words.  Without this ability, our phonetic language does not make sense.

Learning difficulties and struggles in school and/or social situations are most often the result of weak or inconsistent learning skills.  These underlying skills cause interference to learning.  Auditory processing skills are some of these underlying skills.

Unfortunately, these skills do not typically improve with time or traditional tutoring.  However, through the use of specifically targeted sound therapy and auditory stimulation and training exercises, the brain can be retrained to perceive and use auditory information more completely, easily, and accurately.

If you or your child are experiencing auditory or other learning challenges and you’re ready for real and permanent changes…

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

Did Henry Ford Have it Right?

hfHenry Ford said,  “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.”

There’s a lot of wisdom and truth in that statement, but there are times when gutting it out just doesn’t work.

I once knew a young man in his twenties who couldn’t read or spell. His dyslexia was so profound, that he could not write or recognize his middle name.  Howe`ver, he was bright and determined and had somehow managed to graduate from high school.  He had the most amazing collection of coping strategies I’ve ever seen.

Determination and a solid “I can” attitude got him a long way, but it couldn’t teach Tony to read.

Learning to read and spell easily and automatically depends upon a solid set of underlying learning /processing skills.  The auditory system in the brain has to be able to process the number, order, and identity of sounds inside of words (phonemic awareness).  The visual system has to be able to see and discriminate each letter and word on the page clearly and in the correct order.  The brain has to be able to notice and pay attention to small, common sight words such as the, of, and if that don’t always follow the phonetic rules and don’t connect easily with a concept or mental image.  The language part of the brain has to be able to understand, sequence, and associate the meaning of the words and sentences.

Without these critical auditory, visual, and language processing skills, reading just doesn’t work.  If any one of these areas is weak, learners will struggle more than they should with reading and/or spelling.

Believing in yourself and refusing to give up are huge factors in overcoming reading, spelling, and other learning challenges because they give the student the motivation and stamina to stay the course.

But the real deciding factor is correcting/developing the underlying processing skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  Once these skills are developed, the brain has the information it needs to be able to learn and the affected academic skills can be remediated.

At Stowell Learning Center, we identify the underlying skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  We look at exactly what is happening when a student is trying to read, spell, write, or do math.  Then, through specialized cognitive and learning skills programs, we help students develop the needed underlying skills and remediate the reading, writing, spelling, or math skills.

Bright, determined children and adults like Tony can and should become comfortable, independent readers and learners.  It takes more than positive thinking, but the brain research and our work with students with dyslexia, learning, and attention challenges over the last 30 years proves that it can be done.

If your child is struggling in school and you are looking for real solutions,

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

Intensive programs are available this summer to help your bright student make dramatic improvements before school starts in the fall.

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

Conquering SATs, Test Anxiety, Senior Moments, and Learning Challenges

www.thecollegesolution.com

Tyler was a motivated high school junior, potential Ivy League football player, and solid AP (Advanced Placement) student.  But he was SAT-Challenged!

Jessica was also an excellent student in her junior year in high school, but her test anxiety was so great it could only be controlled with prescription medication.

Cheryl is a 50-something baby-boomer with more and more of those embarrassing “senior moments” that leave her at a loss for names and having trouble finding the words she wants to say.

Ryan is a 12-year old dyslexic learner, bright but struggling to read and write.

As diverse as these four individuals seem, they can all be helped with mental fitness, or cognitive skills, training.

Recent brain research indicates that the brain can continue to grow and change throughout our lifetime.  The kinds of skills needed for

  • Quick thinking and problem solving on the SAT,
  • Relaxed, efficient retrieval of information for tests and Common Core,
  • Sharp memory and thinking as we age, and
  • Overcoming learning challenges are learned cognitive abilities that can be improved with training.

Tyler’s Story:  Conquering the SAT

Tyler was a good student and a good football player.  He was being looked at by scouts from Ivy League colleges.  However, his SAT scores were nothing to brag about and he feared they would keep him out of the college he wanted to attend.

Tyler went to a colleague of mine in Addison, Texas, The Core Learning Group, for help.  After completing a 12-week course in cognitive skills training, his SAT scores improved by 200 points!

The SAT is as much about knowing how to think quickly, problem solve, evaluate, and apply knowledge as it is about knowing the material.  The SAT time limits are the enemy of many test-takers.  Students who do well on the SAT must be able to rapidly make good decisions so they can quickly spot and answer easier questions, leaving more time for the tougher ones.

For Tyler, as with many other college-bound students, the stress and length of the test was enough to compromise his performance.  After completing the program of cognitive training, Tyler had the speed and confidence to overcome these challenges.

Jessica’s Story:  Overcoming Test Anxiety

Jessica, a high school junior, was an A student in advanced placement (AP) classes.  In spite of being a top performer, she had extreme test anxiety that had to be managed with prescription medication.  Her parents really wanted to get her off the medication, but Jessica was afraid to because she “didn’t want to screw up her classes.”

Jessica enrolled in an intensive processing skills program over the summer to boost critical underlying skills for confident, efficient learning including auditory and visual processing, short and long term memory, processing speed, attention, logic and reasoning, visualization, and association.  Many of the activities are done to the beat of a metronome, which enhances processing speed, internal organization, and quick decision-making.  For Jessica, activities were worked on at such a fast pace that she couldn’t afford to split her mental energy with anxiousness.

When Jessica went into AP Calculus the following September and began scoring higher than anyone else in her class on her tests, her classmates began calling her “The Brain.”

Jessica attributes her success to her intensive cognitive training.  It showed her that she could perform without anxiety and gave her the skills to hold numbers and formulas in her head.  She was amazed at how strong her ability to do mental math had become.

Jessica’s parents were thrilled that Jessica developed skills that allowed her another kind of success:  She was able to get off of her anxiety medication!

Cognitive Training for Struggling Students

Students who experience learning challenges, including dyslexia and other learning disabilities, usually have areas of inefficient processing, which are interrupting expected academic development.  In order to make real changes in their learning, we need to explore the underlying skills critical to academic and social success.  These include skills such as:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Processing Speed
  • Auditory processing, language, and communication
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Visual processing
  • Logic and reasoning
  • Internal timing and organization
  • Motor coordination and sensory integration

Weaknesses or inconsistencies in one or more of these areas can cause difficulties with efficient learning.  Consistent, targeted cognitive skills training has consistently been shown to improve students’ underlying thinking/learning processes in order to bring independence and success into the learning process.

Keeping the Brain Fit as We Age

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, awareness of brain health has dramatically increased.  Several outstanding books have been written recently by medical doctors who outline steps for maintaining mental sharpness and treating and preventing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s.   The steps consistently include:

  • Nutrition,
  • Exercise,
  • Sleep,
  • Meditation or relaxation exercises, and
  • Brain Training

The brain is a powerful resource.  At any age, we can stimulate our cognitive skills for more efficient thinking and functioning!

 

Here are a few good resources for further information on brain health:

The Better Brain Book by David Permutter, M.D.

Making a Good Brain Great  by Daniel Amen, M.D.

The Memory Prescription by Gary Small, M.D.

 

The brain, at any age, needs strong underlying learning/processing skills in order to learn comfortably, efficiently and easily.  The brain research over the last 25 years and our experience, as well as that of our colleagues across the U.S. over the last 30 years, has proven that learning and attention challenges can change as a result of intensive, targeted cognitive training.

If you or someone in your life is struggling with memory, attention, or learning and you are ready to make a change…

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

“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

I Think I Can! I Think I Can! I Think I Can!

litOne of my favorite childhood books was The Little Engine That Could.  I loved that little blue engine!  He never ever gave up.  No matter how steep the hill was, he always went after it – he always believed he could do it.

“I think I can!  I think I can! 

I think I can!” he’d puff.

My husband says that I just never consider the possibility of failure.  I just keep pushing ahead with that “I think I can” attitude.

I look at some of our students and parents with awe.  No matter what, they just keep pushing ahead.  If it takes hours and hours and hours to get through homework, they put in those hours.

When any aspect of learning is a struggle, it’s going to take more time, effort, energy, and attention in order to perform.  Some students will just keep putting out this excessive effort and energy day after day.  But it takes a toll.

We’ve had honor roll students who gut it out and manage to maintain high grades, but they’re sweating blood to do it.  They become anxious or discouraged but they push forward anyway.  I applaud their perseverance.  But what if they could get good grades without the constant over-the-top effort?

Other students, pushing equally as hard, may not be able to get the grades, so it looks like they’re not motivated enough, like they need to try harder.  But trying harder is not the answer.  Not if you don’t really have the tools to do the job.

If I need to hammer a nail and all I have is a screwdriver, trying harder with the screwdriver is not going to give me a better result.

Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning skills.  If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top.  Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder.  When the underlying learning skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should.  Compensating for weak underlying skills will divert attention and energy from the learning task.

I want our students to have an “I think I can” attitude, but even more importantly, I want them to have a solid foundation of underlying skills that will allow them to love learning and reach their potential without having to push themselves to the breaking point day after day.

The great news is, the underlying skills that support efficient, comfortable academic learning can be developed.  The brain can develop new, more effective neuropathways, or connections, so that learning can be easier and academic remediation can stick!  That’s what we get to do everyday!  What a joy!

Does your child struggle with learning or attention?  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 targeted physical and cognitive training.  For more information:

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

Learning Differences Don’t Really Make Me Different!

12In Southern California, we are the very definition of a “melting pot.”  We have people of every color, culture, and religion from every part of the world.  I love that!  I think it makes us interesting.

One of the things I’ve noticed, working with thousands of families who are dealing with learning and attention challenges, is that no matter what differences are evident on the surface, parents are parents.  If their child is suffering, so are they. They shed tears over their kids, they search for answers, and they willingly sacrifice to help.

Last week we talked about how struggling in school makes smart students feel like they’re “different.”  The truth is dyslexia, learning disabilities, and attention challenges do make them different.

But in the most fundamental ways, they are not different at all.  Like everyone else, students with learning and attention challenges have good innate intelligence and their own set of talents or abilities.  They want to do well, have friends, and be accepted.  They thrive with praise and success and wilt under repeated failure.   Just like everyone else.

Learning disabilities have been called the Invisible Disability because in so many cases, you would never suspect that these students struggle in school.  We have a Learning Center full of bright, motivated students who struggle, sometimes quite terribly, with reading, math, writing, speaking, or getting their work done.  But outside the academic arena, they are athletes, musicians, artists, actors, and Legomasters.  They are silly, friendly, motivated, and kind.

So learning differences don’t really make them that different – they’re just kids, after all – but learning differences do get in the way of students working as comfortably and independently as they should.

Thankfully, this can change.  It’s not a quick and easy fix, but it’s not a forever process either.  With intensity and consistency and an emphasis on improving the weak underlying thinking/learning skills that are causing the problem, children, teens, and adults can eliminate or dramatically change their learning or attention challenges.

Need more information?  Ready for a change?

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

What Do I Say To My Child About His Learning Difference?

 

www.preemiebabies101.com

A mom walked by with a baby who was wearing a soft helmet.  Being an unusual sight, I and most other people they passed glanced a little longer than typical at the baby.

Why was a baby wearing a helmet like that?

The question was quickly answered by the statement printed in large colorful letters on the helmet that said:  JUST FIXING MY FLAT.  And just like that, no one gave it another thought.

Most people don’t really want to stand out in a crowd.  They don’t want to be “different.”  This is a big concern for parents whose children struggle in school, and particularly when they are being pulled out of class to get extra help.

Understandably parents wonder how it will affect their child’s self-esteem if they have to attend tutoring or a specialized cognitive training program like ours at Stowell Learning Center.

Here are some thoughts about that:

First, students spend years and years in school.  They don’t have a choice.  Most students who have difficulty in school know they are struggling.  They can quickly see that they are the last to finish, or the one who has to stay in at recess, or that their grade was lower than their peers’ even though they studied hard.

 

Give Them Language

Here’s the bottom line about learning disabilities and dyslexia:  By definition, the person is smart – at least average intelligence but often much higher – in spite of the fact that some aspects of learning are difficult.

Help students to understand that and give them language so they know what to say to their friends when they have to leave the class to go the Education Specialist’s room or can’t play after school because they have tutoring.  Keep it simple and direct.  Like the baby with the helmet, a little bit of explanation will cause most classmates to move on and forget about it.

Examples:

“I get distracted easily so I take my tests in a quieter room.”

“I’m getting help to make math easier.”

“ My mom says I’m smart, but I have dyslexia so that makes reading hard.  The learning center is helping make reading easier.”

Notice the word “easier.”  Nobody wants to be told they need to be “better,” but most people would love for things to be easier.

 

Get Help That Will Address The Real Issues And Permanently Correct The Problem

Learning challenges will make a child feel different.  They often make really bright children and adults feel dumb.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Most learning and attention challenges are the result of weak underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  These are skills like memory, focus, auditory or visual processing, processing speed, comprehension, and visual-motor integration and organization.

The great news is that these underlying skills can be developed.  The brain can be retrained to process information more effectively.  Reading, math, spelling, writing, and organization skills can be remediated and will stick, once the brain is getting complete and accurate information to think with.

If your smart child or teen is feeling “different” because of struggles in school and you’re ready for something to change…

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

Is Retention Ever a Good Idea?

32We’re getting to that time of year that some parents are getting the news that their child is “in danger of retention.”

“In danger” indicates that retention is a bad thing.  While it is something that should certainly be decided with careful thought, there are there times when retention is actually a good idea.

Children grow and develop at different rates, especially in those early years.  It is not unusual for a child, particularly a boy, to be developmentally young for his (or her) chronological age.  Developmental age is not about achievement or intelligence, but rather the child’s overall maturity level – the age at which he is functioning as a total organism – socially, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.

Children who are chronologically young for their grade – those whose birthdate is within 3 months of the cut-off date for entering kindergarten – tend to be at a disadvantage as they go through school.  They’re always just a little behind the rest in truly being ready for the expectations of the grade level.  Many perform in school just fine, but there is often a cost in increased stress, dependence, or time.  They have to work harder to manage the demands.  There is a true advantage to being one of the older kids in the class.

When should a child be retained in a grade?

The only solution to being young is time.  If your child is struggling in school because he is chronologically or developmentally young, he needs the gift of time.  Another year in pre-school, kindergarten, or even first grade will give him the time he needs to mature and be ready for the attention and learning demands of the grade level.  This is a gift that given once, will support him throughout his school career.

What are the risks of retention to consider?

The older a child gets, the harder it is to retain, even if you know they would benefit.  Young children believe what their parents say and will usually be fine with whatever is decided, but by second or third grade, the child and his peers may begin to look at retention as a failure.  This adds a whole new layer of challenge.  The whole family, including the child, need to be on board with retention at this age, and success with it may require a change in schools.

What will my child say to friends?

Both of my children had fall birthdates and were a bit young for their age.  This is a double whammy – being both chronologically and developmentally young – so we kept them in pre-school an extra year before starting kindergarten.  This meant that they were always among the oldest in their class.

When classmates started to ask, “Why are you six and I’m only five?” we told our kids to say, “My parents thought I was too young to start kindergarten last year.”  They got to blame it on us and it gave them something to say.  Whether their peers understood the explanation or not it didn’t matter because they really didn’t care that much.  Sometimes, we just have to give our kids something to say.

Signs that your child might be chronologically or developmentally young for his grade:

  • Gravitates to younger playmates
  • Excessively tired after school
  • Still taking naps when other children have outgrown them
  • Always get a slow start in the new school year and start to catch up in the second semester
  • Not showing learning disabilities, but always seem to need more help or time
  • Whiny about school
  • Less coordinated than their peers
  • Writing seems larger and less mature than their classmates

Will retention solve a learning challenge?

This question gets a resounding NO!  Immaturity or lack of school attendance for an extended period of time are really the only reasons to retain.  Learning and attention challenges, learning disabilities, and dyslexia will not go away with time.

These challenges are nearly always the result of weak underlying learning/processing skills.  The only way to effectively and permanently change learning challenges is to identify the weak underlying skills and develop them through targeted and intensive cognitive training.  Once the brain is receiving clear, complete, and accurate information to think with, the reading, math, and other academic skills can be remediated.

Most students with learning or attention challenges can and should become comfortable, independent learners at grade level.  Retention is not the answer for these students and school and traditional tutoring are not solving the problem, but the needed underlying learning and academic skills CAN be developed.

If you or your child are dealing with a learning or attention challenge and looking for real solutions, for real and permanent changes, 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

Child’s Play Develops Attention

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© Martindata | Dreamstime.com.jpg

“Look at me!”

“Watch me do a handstand!”

“Look at me jump!”

Young children love to show off their physical prowess.  What parents may not realize is that the antics kids use to get attention are often building blocks for developing attention!

I had a momentous birthday last week so I don’t do a lot of handstands anymore, but when I was a kid, this would have been me!

All that running, jumping, climbing, doing handstands, and rolling downs hills that kids love to do when they have the time and space to do it, plays a tremendously important role in the development of self-control and attention.

Believe it or not, free, unstructured, physical playtime is a big contributor to school success.

John Ratey, M.D., author of A User’s Guide to the Brain says, “Mounting evidence shows that movement is crucial to every other brain function, including memory, emotion, language and learning. Our ‘higher’ brain functions have evolved from movement and still depend on it.”

Learning begins with movement.  Babies begin to learn about themselves and their environment through movement.  Visual skills are developed through movement.  Understanding of left and right is developed first through movement.  Sense of balance and control is developed first through movement. Movement helps energize and organize the brain.

Physical balance is the foundation for attention and mental control.  The body must be relaxed and centered to be truly balanced, and we learn about balance through movement.

When we do Attention Focus Training at Stowell Learning Center, we start with physical activities – such as walking slowly forward and backward on a line or low balance beam – that require the student to be balanced and centered.  Going slowly and maintaining control can be very difficult for students at first.  At each step of increasing control, we have students stop and recognize or feel the change from distracted, speedy, and off balance to calm and focused.

We work with students on anchoring the calm, focused feeling by taking a slow, deep breath and thinking about an X (an integrated symbol that engages both hemispheres of the brain).  Then when they start to get distracted and unfocused while doing school-type activities and homework, they can take a deep breath, think about the X, and remember what it felt like to be balanced and in control.  This helps them access that feeling of calm, centered, focus so they can bring more attention to the task.

Applications for parents:

  • Less screen time and more unstructured outdoor time, especially for young children
  • Activities that require balance, such as gymnastics and martial arts, will also train attention focus
  • Short movement breaks during homework is time well spent
  • Try having kids balance on two feet, one foot, while walking on a line or curb forward and backward, or maybe even while doing hand stands for a few minutes when distracted. As they fight for balance, they are also fighting for attention, learning to center their body and mind.

Learning gets its jump-start through the involuntary movements caused by the primitive survival reflexes babies are born with. There is a normal progression of movement activity that helps a child understand himself and accurately perceive and navigate his world. Interference, for whatever reason, to this normal development through movement can impact a child’s attention, learning, interaction, and comfort in the world.

Does your child struggle with learning or attention?  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 targeted physical and cognitive training.  For more information:

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.

To RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information Overload or Filter Failure?

blog1I don’t know about you, but email can be completely overwhelming to me.  Scattered among the truly important things, there must be ten times as many irrelevant items.

Recently, my husband saved me from my inbox by going through and weeding out everything except the things I really needed to pay attention to.  He was appalled by all of the unfiltered, unnecessary stuff cluttering up my inbox and therefore my time.

In the book 59 Seconds, Change Your Life in Under a Minute, Richard Wiseman says, “It’s not information overload, its filter failure.”

When I heard that, I thought about our students who struggle so much to listen and pay attention in school.  They get so overloaded that they shutdown or meltdown.  In most cases, I would say it is more a problem of filter failure than information overload.

Let me give you some examples:

Tony was a 13-year old middle-schooler who said that he could never really get what the teacher was saying because the other noises around him – the air conditioning, feet shuffling, pencils writing, etc. – were screaming in his head at the same time.  He couldn’t filter out the unimportant stimuli and let them fade into the background.

Eleven-year-old Ryan struggled to read because instead of creating a background, the white spaces in between and around words were as prominent as the words themselves.  Nothing was filtered, therefore it took excessive effort to focus on the print.

At 9, Jesse noticed absolutely everything he heard or saw.  He could do his schoolwork, but he was so distracted that he couldn’t get it done.    Jason, also 9, wasn’t distracted by things around him, but his thoughts were so creative and engaging, that a single word heard or read could cause his mind to take a mental vacation.

Lack of ability to filter information can cause smart students to struggle with attention or learning.  It can cause them to feel overloaded and perform well below their potential.

The ability to filter, focus, and organize information relies on strong underlying learning/processing skills.  These are skills that support attention and efficient learning, but are rarely taught because they are not academic skills or school subjects.

However, these skills can be improved.  If we want to permanently change or correct a learning challenge, we must identify the weak underlying processing/learning skills that are not supporting the student well enough and develop them through targeted brain training.  Students with learning challenges, including learning disabilities and dyslexia can become confident, comfortable, independent learners.

If you or your child are struggling with learning or attention challenges and are ready to make a real and permanent change, here’s your next step:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

I HATE Feeling Crazy!

32My father-in-law loved instruction manuals.  He would pour over the manual for any item he bought because he wanted to know exactly how it worked, all the things it could do, and what problems and solutions to expect.1234

But kids don’t come with instruction manuals.  So we all step into parenting a little blindly.  It’s a figure-it-out-as-you-go proposition from the start.

When we send our little 5-year-olds off to kindergarten and imagine their school years ahead, we picture happy children who love school, have friends, learn easily, make good grades, and accomplish good things.  If it doesn’t turn out this way, if they begin to struggle or feel dumb, or fight and cry over homework, many parents feel lost and confused.

Now what?  There’s no instruction manual to tell them what to do.

Parents of smart but struggling students get conflicting messages from relatives, friends, and even teachers.

  • He’s a boy – he’ll grow out of it.
  • She just needs to try harder.
  • If he was more motivated, he could do it.
  • You worry too much!

Parents may begin to second-guess themselves.  “Maybe I’m just paranoid.  Maybe there’s not really anything wrong.  I’m just over-protective.”

It’s very hard to understand how smart kids can struggle in school.  Especially when those kids have other obvious talents.  We have a center full of smart, engaging students who have talents or abilities that simply don’t seem to match their struggles in school.  They may be very artistic, musically talented, mechanical and able to put anything together without looking at the directions, verbal and social, or great at sports.

If they can do those things, why do they struggle in school?  How can a student excel in math but really struggle in reading or vice versa?  Parents shake their heads and think, “Am I just crazy?”

There are whole sets of underlying cognitive processing skills that support various types of thinking and learning.  These are skills such as attention, memory, auditory and visual processing, motor control, processing speed, language comprehension, and reasoning.  Weak or underdeveloped skills in one or more of these areas can cause smart children and adults to struggle.

Here’s what I know about moms – they just know.  They may not know what’s causing the problem, but they know there’s something.  Last week, when I explained to a mom that her daughter’s struggles were the result of mild dyslexia and weak auditory processing skills, she said, “That’s exactly what I felt, but no one believed me.  I HATE feeling crazy!”

Here’s the good news, children and adults with average to above average intelligence do not have to go through life trying to compensate for their learning challenges.  These underlying processing skills can be developed.  Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or permanently corrected.

 

Are you tired of feeling crazy?  Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with learning?  It’s time for a change.  Here’s your next step:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

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Multitasking or Scattered and Unfocused?

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AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Is Social Media Helping or Hurting Attention and Executive Function?

Have you watched a high school or college student do homework recently?  It’s quite a fantastic display of multi-tasking.  Or is it?

I am amazed at how young people can switch so rapidly between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, and texting, all while doing an assignment or studying for a test.

Is this a coordinated multitasking skill or is it actually more related to a scattered, unfocused mind?

I am not against technology.  In fact, like everyone else these days, I have no idea how I could live without it, but it does have its drawbacks.  I believe one of those is making us think that being glued to a video game for hours at a time is an example of sustained focus, or that carrying on multiple interactions in a variety of social media venues is a coordinated multitasking skill.

Many parents come to Stowell Learning Center with concerns about their child or teen’s executive function skills.  Executive function is the CEO part of the brain that allows a person to monitor, control, and evaluate his or her own attention and behavior.  Our executive function allows us to organize time and materials, solve problems, make decisions, and delay gratification.

Multimedia multitasking may be impressive, but a far better example of good executive function would be the student who turns off all social media while studying, and puts their complete focus and attention on the single task at hand.

Developing New Habits

Parents can help students develop this kind of a habit by setting up a specific time and/or place for homework.  When kids go to their homework spot or when the homework clock starts, there is no social media or texting allowed.

Be sure to build in short breaks where students can get up and move and check their social media, but breaks should be a specific amount of time and social media should not be brought into the homework space.

Kids need to be involved in developing the structure of homework time and space, but once decided, everyone needs to agree to stick with it for a week or two.  Then you can evaluate and tweak it, and repeat the process until you have it just right.

What if Executive Function Isn’t Really the Problem?

Sometimes, what looks like an executive function problem to a parent is really a symptom of a learning challenge.  There are many underlying skills, such as memory, auditory and visual processing, language comprehension, processing speed, and sensory integration that are needed for easy, efficient learning.  If any of these areas are weak or underdeveloped, it can cause the student to have to work harder and longer than they should, make more mistakes than expected, and struggle with attention.

Students with learning and attention challenges can be supported with good habits and structure, but these are not likely to solve the learning problem in the long run.

However, brain research and our experience with thousands of students over the years shows us that most learning challenges, including learning disabilities and dyslexia, can be dramatically improved or completely and permanently corrected.  It will take more than accommodations, traditional tutoring, or support to get their homework done, but it is absolutely possible.

Correcting learning challenges takes identifying and developing areas of weak underlying processing or learning skills and remediating the affected basic academic skills.  Smart children, teens, and adults can become comfortable, independent learners.

 

If you or your child are struggling with learning or attention challenges and are ready to make a real and permanent change, here’s your next step:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

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Don’t Let Learning Challenges De-Rail Your Dreams

wSaturday was a milestone day for my family.  Our son got married to a wonderful girl on a beautiful Southern California day!  We all have hopes and dreams for our kids, and this was certainly one of ours for our son.

I speak daily with parents of smart, talented, wonderful kids whose hearts are breaking because their dreams for their children are being frustrated by learning or attention challenges.

In spite of good intelligence and supportive teachers and parents, these same kids are fighting over homework and shedding tears over being the “dumbest one in the class.”  Of course they aren’t “dumb” at all, but it can feel like it if you’re always the last one to finish your work or the one who stayed inside studying everyday after school and then got a low grade on the test anyway.

Kids spend so much of their lives in school that struggles there simply can’t be ignored.  And they tend to turn a family upside down.

What we know from our 30 years of working with children and adults with learning and attention challenges, is that most of these challenges, including learning disabilities and dyslexia, can be dramatically improved or completely corrected.  It doesn’t happen by doing more of the same, but by identifying the underlying processing/learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough and developing these through specific brain training.  The brain is meant to learn.  It is amazing.  And once it can access the information it needs, reading, writing, spelling, math, and language can be remediated and the learning will stick!

Don’t let learning challenges de-rail your dreams for your kids!

Children and adults with learning challenges who have average to above average intelligence can and should become comfortable, confident, and independent learners.  It doesn’t happen by chance and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is absolutely possible!

From Reading Disability to Teaching Teachers

Jessica dreamed of being a teacher.  A near drowning incident when she was young left her with learning disabilities that made reading extremely difficult.

We got the opportunity to work with Jessica when she was 9.  Years later, she sent me a letter saying she had graduated from college and was teaching children with reading disabilities!

A few years later, another letter came sharing completion of her Masters degree in Reading, and then another when she got her doctorate and began teaching teachers at a university.

Learning disabilities do not have to be permanent and do not have to stand in the way of dreams!

What are your dreams for your child?  Are learning or attention challenges getting in the way?  There is hope.

To understand your child’s learning challenges and what can be done to change them,

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

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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

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Got Rhythm?

12Rhythm and Timing May be a Factor in Reading, Attention, and Learning Problems

Every week I take a Whole Body Workout class at the gym.  I think it should be called Whole Body – Whole Brain Workout because it not only takes muscle power, but brainpower to coordinate all the simultaneous movements:

Arms opening and closing, twisting hand weights towards the center and then out to the side while sitting and tightening the abs and alternately flexing and pointing the feet.  Yikes!

What I’ve noticed is that if I’m on the beat, everything seems to flow and work, but if I can’t quite coordinate the rhythm, it all falls apart.  I feel confused and lost, and a little overwhelmed.  I try to get the feet going right but then lose track of what the arms were supposed to be doing.  I start looking at the clock wondering how much longer the class is.  I may stop and give up on that part or realize that the instructor has gone on to something else and now I’m behind.

Sound familiar?  Struggling students experience these feelings everyday.

Timing is at the most basic foundation of nearly everything we do.  When timing is intrinsic and automatic, everything flows and functions better.123 Anything that requires coordination requires a sense of timing and rhythm; in other words, just about everything

  • Getting out of bed in the morning
  • Eating
  • Brushing teeth
  • Walking, running, playing, and sports
  • Speaking with intonation and expression
  • Turn-taking and dialogue
  • Handwriting
  • Listening
  • Processing speech sounds for phonetic decoding and reading
  • “Seeing” letters words and sentences properly on the page
  • Reading fluency
  • Understanding what you hear and read
  • “Getting” and responding to information quickly enough
  • Retrieving the words you want to say and putting them together quickly enough
  • Organizing
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Regulating our breath, attention, and behavior

The list goes on and on.

In our work with students with learning and attention challenges, we are finding that improving timing and rhythm

  • Improves attention, coordination, and overall mental alertness for learning
  • Reduces anxiety and improves behavior
  • Increases speech, language and verbal flow and expression

Feeling “in sync” feels good.  One of the reasons teens traditionally gravitate towards music with a strong beat is because there is so much going on in a teenage brain and body that a strong beat is calming to their system.

Do you have a child or teen who seems out of sync or who struggles in school?  We can help.

Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by developing the needed underlying skills.

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

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Toddler Techies

I Can’t Believe The Experts Overlooked This When Talking About
Child Development And Technology
12

1

These images are a bit disturbing to me.  First because I’m afraid some of these babies may be more tech-savvy than I am!  And second, because as cool as this is, I’m not sure we’re doing our kids any favors by putting them in front of screens so early.

Good Morning America ran a piece last week about toddlers and technology:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/warning-toddlers-smartphones-tablets-23235372

The child development experts were cautioning parents about screen time for toddlers because it gets in the way of actual face time with people.

The first 2 – 3 years of life are critical to brain development and engagement with people’s eyes, faces, and back-and-forth interaction are so important for the development of language and social skills.

What surprised me was that none of the experts mentioned the fact that child development also relies on movement, which screen time definitely curtails.

I had a young mother who was trying to be very proactive about her child’s education ask me what programs she should be using with her 3-year-old to teach him to read.  What I told her was, “Take your child to the park.  Make sure he gets outdoor time to run and climb and explore.”

It is through movement that humans begin to understand space, time, distance, right and left, up and down, force, and speed.  This is how we internally organize and develop our body awareness and control.  Movement provides the foundation that develops visual skills and the ability to use our eyes and hands together, that allows us to navigate our environment without bumping into people and things.

Good student skills that we all want for our kids – the ability to sit, pay attention, and read, write, and learn easily, rely on a foundation of skills learned through movement.

What technology can offer is colorful, fun, engaging, and often amazing, but it is also quite addictive and a too-convenient babysitter or pacifier.  Experts say to limit screen time for under threes to 10 – 15 minutes a day.

BE CAREFUL with technology.  Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.  Get your kids moving!  There is so much to be learned and such a critical foundation to be developed that cannot be built with a screen.

Movement supports memory, attention, and feelings of well-being at any age, so MORE MOVEMENT in 2015 is an “age appropriate” New Year’s Resolution for everyone!

I hope your holidays were all that you hoped they would be and wish you the very best in 2015.

 

Do you or someone you know struggle with learning or attention challenges? Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by developing the needed underlying skills.

JOIN US for a FREE Parent 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

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Better Than a 5 Year Old

PI Should Be Better Than a 5-Year Old, But Alas, I Fail Again!

It’s that time of year.  Are you frantically wrapping presents?  Some people really have the knack for it and others just don’t!

I caught a quick segment on the Today Show last week highlighting a social media comment about wrapping presents.  In dismay, the person was wrapping a present and saying,

“I should be better at wrapping presents than a five-year-old,

but alas, I fail again!”

I think that must be what so many of our students feel about their reading when they first start at the Stowell Learning Center.

“I’m 10.  I should be able to read better than a five year old…”

“I’m 14.  I should be able to read better than a five year old…”

“I’m 51.  I should be able to read better than a five year old…”

“But alas, I fail again.”

 

There’s no age cap on reading problems.

Learning to read easily, accurately, and fluently depends upon having a solid foundation of many underlying thinking/processing skills including:

  • Auditory processing skills that allow you to think about the number, order, and identity of sounds inside of words (phonemic awareness)
  • Visual processing skills that allow you to clearly see the letters and words on the page
  • Auditory and visual working memory that allows you to remember all of the sounds and letters in the correct sequence
  • Discrimination skills that allow you to tell the difference between letters and sounds that look or sound similar
  • The ability to see patterns
  • The ability to understand the words and sentences as you read

Weaknesses in any of these underlying skills can cause bright students of any age to struggle more than they should.  Older students and adults may find ways to cope with their challenges, but compensations are not comfortable, efficient or necessary.

The underlying skills that support efficient reading can be developed.  The cycle of frustration and failure can be broken. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with reading, there is hope.  I have recently run into the parents of two different former students, both of whom were dyslexic learners with severe reading challenges.

Both parents shared with me that their sons were now successful adults, both with two Masters degrees, and both of whom could not learn to read until they attended Stowell Learning Center.  By developing the underlying skills that are needed for efficient reading, we were then able to help the boys completely and permanently remediate their reading challenges.

You or your child can do it too!

 

Have Questions?  Need more information?

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

Happy Holidays and Happy Wrapping!

 

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Mental Tools

Does Your Child Have the Right Tools for the Job?

Weak underlying mental tools cause smart students to struggle in school.

12At our last parent information meeting, a homeschool mom shared that her teenage son was bright and willing, but getting increasingly frustrated and depressed over his struggles with schoolwork.

She said, “I feel like I’m asking him to dig a hole, but don’t know what kind of shovel to give him.”

My husband is fond of saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  But the bottom line is that even though a hammer may be an excellent tool, it isn’t the right tool to do all jobs.

There are many underlying learning skills that are needed to learn comfortably and efficiently.  Struggling learners tend to have a pattern of real strengths and weaknesses in their underlying skills, causing them to have to over-rely on their strengths.  For example:

  • A student with weak ability to think about the sound in words (phonemic awareness) may be dependent upon his memorized vocabulary for reading.  Because he can’t sound out unfamiliar words, his reading may be inaccurate or slow because he has to reread over and over in order to figure out the words.
  • A student with good verbal skills but weak ability to get information from head to paper, may chat with neighbors instead of doing his work, or put excessive energy into talking his way out of things.
  • A student with weak comprehension skills may rely on rote memory to write down everything the teacher says, or memorize her study guide exactly, resulting in very dense and unhelpful notes and poor test scores.  Questions phrased differently than the study guide will seem like completely different information.

Having the right tools always makes the job easier.  In the case of students, these are “mental tools” such as memory, attention, sensory motor integration, processing speed, auditory and visual processing, language processing, and executive function.

Weaknesses in any of these underlying skills can cause smart students of any age to struggle.  Thankfully, brain research in neuroplasticity and over 50 years of clinical and scientific research proves that these underlying skills can be developed, making dramatic improvements or completely correcting learning and attention challenges.

Having the right tools to do the job, allows students to become the comfortable and independent learners they have the potential to be.

Need more info?  Ready to make a real and lasting change?

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

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.

Overcoming Dyslexia

12I’ve just got to share something that completely made my day!

Last week, I was giving a Discover Reading workshop for learning center owners and directors.  They had come from around the country and really wanted to see what it would look like to do the program with a student.

One of our students, a profoundly dyslexic 11-year-old, agreed to demonstrate a skill she was currently working on in the program.  Like many dyslexic students, Isabella is bright, engaging, and outgoing, but for most of her time at Stowell Learning Center, the sight of print could put her into complete shutdown or tears.

When she came into the workshop, Isabella wowed us by visualizing a multisyllable word and spelling it forward and backward.  This was great, especially knowing how difficult the journey has been for her, but that wasn’t the thing that touched me so much.

It was when she went on to try another word, and having gotten progressively more nervous, she started to fumble and stumble over the task.  She took a breath and said, “I can do this. I can do this.”  Then very quietly to herself, she said, “I believe in myself.  I believe in myself.”  And she did it!

I wanted to break down and cry that this is the work I get to do everyday.  What could be better than that?  To bring struggling students success in their learning and belief in themselves!

Dyslexia, learning disabilities, and struggles with attention or academics can chip away at a student’s self esteem and impact nearly every aspect of a child’s and their family’s life.  Smart, talented kids can decide that they are dumb.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by addressing the weak underlying processing/learning skills that are causing the problem and then remediating the basic academic skills.

If you or your child are struggling with dyslexia or a learning or attention challenge, and you are ready to make a change, I want to invite you to come to an information meeting to learn about why smart kids (or adults) struggle and what can be done.

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

The Teacher Says My Child is Struggling. Now What?

2

www.scholastic.com

The Teacher Says My Child is Struggling.  Now what?

When I was teaching in public school many years ago, I happened to teach in an area where most of the parents spoke only Spanish.  Therefore, my parent-teacher conferences were held in my far-less-than-perfect Spanish.  I remember that the parents were so gracious about it.

One of the hardest things about conferences was when I had to tell a parent that their child was struggling.  They looked to me to know what to do about it, but as a classroom teacher, I really didn’t know how to fix it.  I didn’t know that most learning problems can be fixed.

I really cared about the kids.  I loved to teach.  I made my classroom fun and productive. But at the end of the day, my struggling learners were still struggling, in spite of all the TLC I provided.

What is taught at school is curriculum – subjects – Reading, Writing, Spelling, Math, History, Languages, Science, etc.

What’s not taught are the underlying learning/processing skills that support efficient learning – Memory, Attention, Auditory and Visual Processing, Sensorimotor Integration, Processing Speed, Comprehension Processing, etc.

These skills provide the foundation for all kinds of learning.  When they are strong, students can focus their mental energy on the curriculum and the new ideas being taught.

One or more weak underlying learning/processing skills can cause students to have to work harder and longer to get the information.  Attention is stressed and some of their mental energy is diverted in order to compensate.

These skills are not taught in school.  They are simply assumed to be in place and supporting students properly.  Brain research and our work with thousands of children and adults over the last 30 years proves that these underlying skills can be developed and struggling students can become successful, independent, and comfortable learners.

Now when I conference with parents to share with them about their child’s struggles, I also get to show them that there are solutions.  What a joy!

TLC goes a long way in helping struggling learners get through school, but correcting the underlying issues completes the process!

If you are a parent of a struggling learner and dreading another discouraging parent-teacher conference, there is hope.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Dreading Parent Teacher Conferences?

treeLoving Fall but Dreading Fall Parent Teacher Conferences?

The East Coast does Fall right!  Crisp weather; brilliant red, yellow, and orange leaves on the tress, and pumpkins everywhere!

There’s just something special about Fall.  A change in the weather – in most places!  (So. Cal. seems to be a bit stuck on the heat of summer).  School and football well underway.  Holidays coming. pump

And parent-teacher conferences coming soon.  For families with struggling students, it may be the dreaded parent-teacher conference.

A great connection between a student and teacher can make a huge difference in how a struggling learner feels about himself, and to some degree in the student’s academic performance.  But for students with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention challenges, another year of maturity, an understanding teacher, or even a different school environment will not usually solve the problem.

That dreaded parent-teacher conference is likely to confirm what the parent and student are experiencing every day at homework time.  Another smart student is struggling in school. 

Is the student lazy?  Not trying hard enough?  Not really that motivated?

Most of the parents I talk to have had these same questions, but usually only briefly, because they witness first hand the excessive time, effort, and energy it takes for their children to manage their homework.  They also see the very tangible evidence of their child’s innate ability.

So what’s going on when smart kids struggle in school?  How do you break the cycle of heartbreaking parent-teacher conferences?

Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning skills.  If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top.  Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder.  When the underlying skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should.Learning

Learning difficulties and struggles in school and/or social situations are most often the result of weak or inconsistent learning skills.  These underlying skills cause interference to learning.  Unfortunately, they do not typically improve with time or traditional tutoring.

Fortunately, students scoring or functioning below their potential do not have to be stuck there.  The brain can be retrained to process information and learn more quickly, easily, and independently.

This is not an overnight process, but it is not a forever process either.  I remember one of our severely dyslexic students – a non-reader at 9 – whose high school teachers were shocked to hear that he had ever had a reading problem.  After a couple of years at the Learning Center, he went on to work his way out of a special education classroom to Resource Specialist support, to fully mainstream classes, to Advanced Placement classes in high school.  His mom, a teacher herself, absolutely dreaded being on the parent end of a parent-teacher conference.  But once her son learned to read, conferences became something to look forward to.

That’s what we’re looking for for all of our students.

If that’s you – dreading conference time and looking to break that cycle,

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.

For more information…

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night

GO TO www.learningdisability.com for dates, details, and RSVP

Also at www.learningdisability.com sign up for FREE HOMEWORK TIPS

These are simple things that parents can do to support their children and teens with all different aspects of homework.

“This is So Boring!”

23“I  hate History. It’s boring.”

“I don’t want to do this homework.  It’s so borrrring!” (Said in a whiney voice)

If you’re the parent of a school age student, you’ve probably heard this before.  If you’re the parent of a child who struggles in school, you have probably heard this, or something similar, more times than you can count.

The definition of boring is:  not interesting; tedious.  And there certainly are assignments that are just plain boring.

But for many students with learning challenges, “boring” translates as “I think this is too hard and I may not be able to do it” or “This makes me feel stupid and I don’t want to have to deal with it.”

When kids are struggling, it’s particularly important to “listen between the lines.”

In the book, The Orphan Train, a teenage foster child says, when asked why she hasn’t tried to find out what’s happening with her biological mom, “I don’t care, that’s why.”  But the truth was, she did care.  She cared desperately, but she was so afraid of the answer, that it was easier to put on a defiant face and tell herself and the world that she didn’t care.

At the Stowell Learning Center, when a student says that something is boring or digs in about trying a particular task or activity, our job is to determine what is making that task something to be avoided.  What about it is hard or overwhelming?  How can we break it down so that the student can feel success?  What underlying skills need to be built so that the task is not just manageable, but something that the student can do efficiently and comfortably?

What’s really amazing, is that once a student really understands something or feels competent with a task, it’s suddenly no longer “boring” but “fun.”

How do we take a student from “boring” to “fun” – from struggling to learning comfortably?  We have to look at the underlying processing/learning skills that support efficient learning and identify and then develop those skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.

Reading will be excessively boring if you have to sound out every letter and the words still don’t make sense when you put them together, or if the information you read just goes in one ear and out the other with no comprehension.  Where’s the fun in that?

But once your brain is able to process the sounds, connect them to the letters, and blend them together easily and automatically, reading can become a pleasure instead of a chore.

When the reader who doesn’t remember or comprehend learns to create a mental movie while reading, a whole new exciting world opens up.

If you or your child are struggling with reading or learning – if you’re repeatedly hearing, “It’s sooo boring,”  it’s time to make a change.  For more information about the underlying skills that support learning and how address and correct the real cause of the learning challenge…

 

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night

GO TO www.learningdisability.com for dates, details, and RSVP

Also at www.learningdisability.com sign up for FREE HOMEWORK TIPS

These are simple things that parents can do to support their children and teens with all different aspects of homework.

Homework Blues Already?

nailAt our Parent Information Meeting this week, a parent shared that her son spends 5 hours a night on what should be less than an hour of homework.

Another parent said about their son, who also seems to do nothing but homework once he gets home from school, “We just want him to have his life back!”

When my son was 8, I distinctly remember him saying to me in exasperation, “You don’t know!  That’s not how my teacher says to do it!” 

Even when there are no learning challenges, parents doing homework with their kids can be difficult.  There’s just too much emotion involved and kids know just what buttons to push.  Finding that balance between enough support and giving too much help is tough.

Add in dyslexia, ADHD, or other learning struggles and everything just got 100 times harder.

Students with learning challenges have to expend so much more mental effort than their peers all day long in school to do the job.  It can be mentally and physically exhausting.

When we think about school, we think about reading, writing, math, and subject areas.  But there are whole sets of underlying learning/processing skills that support efficient, easy learning.

  • Sitting still in a chair
  • Paying attention and staying focused
  • Getting all the information when listening
  • Understanding and remembering what is read or heard
  • Coming up with logical responses
  • Organizing information on the page

These things need to be working automatically in order for the brain to be available to learn new information, but they don’t just happen because you’re old enough to go to school.  The ability to do these things automatically is the result of strong, specific underlying skills.

When the underlying skills are weak or inefficient, students may struggle with school and homework in spite of good intelligence.  Kids with learning challenges expend so much effort and energy trying to manage at school, that by the time they get home, they are often mentally exhausted.  They’re done!

And the homework battle begins.

The only way to really stop this cycle is correct the problem…to identify and develop the underlying skills that are causing the problem.  This IS possible!  For more information about underlying learning skills and correcting learning and attention challenges:

 

JOIN US for a Parent Information Night

GO TO www.learningdisability.com for dates, details, and RSVP

Also at www.learningdisability.com sign up for FREE HOMEWORK TIPS

These are simple things that parents can do to support their children and teens with all different aspects of homework.

Augh!!! My Teacher Talks Too Fast!

hWhat does horse racing have to do with people talking too fast?  Nothing really, but I wonder if that’s what it feels like to students with slow processing speed.  Race horses fly by in a blur. What would school be like if words flew by you in a blur?

Students with learning challenges sometimes feel like their teacher is talking at breakneck speed.  They’re trying hard to listen; they’re looking at the teacher, but somehow, the teacher is already onto the next question when the student has just barely come up with a response to the last one.

When a question is asked, most people automatically understand the question and begin thinking about and formulating their response.  Students with language-based learning disabilities often have to process the question as well as the answer.  While they are deciphering the sequence of words, grammar, vocabulary, and intention behind the question, someone else has already answered it.  When they are ready to respond, their teacher has gone on to the next question and they’ve missed it.

So what does that look like in the classroom? 

It looks like a student who isn’t paying attention or isn’t listening.

We once worked with a bright and talkative 12-year old who constantly repeated what someone else had just said in discussions, or asked questions that the teacher had just answered.  After the first few weeks in 6th grade, he learned not to participate, because he was always saying the wrong thing – and everyone but him seemed to know it.  He just knew the other kids laughed and he was always being told to pay attention.

But attention wasn’t the problem.  The problem was, by the time he had processed the question and come up with an answer, the question had been answered and the class had gone on to the next one…and he’d missed it.

I remember testing a high school student who either said “I don’t know” or gave really off-the-wall responses to virtually every test question.  Then I realized that he had such slow auditory processing speed that any responses he gave were actually correct answers to previous questions.  And that was in a one-to-one setting.  I can’t imagine how lost he must have felt in the classroom.  His parents and teachers thought he just didn’t try and didn’t care.  But of course he had a bad attitude!  He had no idea what was going on in real time!

Most learning and attention challenges can be corrected.  It takes looking at the underlying root of the issue – like auditory delays and slow processing speed – and developing those critical learning skills through targeted cognitive training.  Then the learner is mentally ready and available for academic remediation and more independent, efficient performance at school.

If you or your child is struggling with listening or learning, change is possible!

JOIN US at a Parent Information Night to find out how to break the cycle of learning challenges and struggles in school.  Go to www.learningdisability.com for details and information.