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

My 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??

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“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

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