“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.