Ashley was a bright, popular, engaging 11th grader who was failing History and barely scraping by in her other classes.  Her parents and teachers were extremely frustrated with her underachievement and were adamant that if she would just try harder, she would get better grades.  Her parents were fearful for her future as her apparent lack of effort was going to impact her chances of getting into college.

When we tested Ashley, we found that she could read, write, spell, and do math, but her auditory processing, processing speed, working memory, and reasoning skills were weak and inconsistent.  As a result, she didn’t always hear the instructions or get all of the lecture information.  She rarely finished her tests or homework and when she did, her grades were discouragingly low.

Ashley said that she tried very hard for her first two years in high school, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. By 11th grade, she had pretty much given up and put her energy into being social, an arena where she could excel.

Ashley did a program with us to build her processing skills.  Before her 12-week program was completed, her attitude about school, as well as her grades, completely turned around.  By the end of the semester, this former hater of History, had the highest grade in the class.

Many parents share with me that their kids are so smart and try so hard, but in spite of all that effort, they fail tests or get low grades anyway.  They and their children are incredibly discouraged.

If trying harder gets you results, then it’s worth the effort, but for many students with learning and attention challenges, trying harder just ends in disappointment.  All the motivation and effort in the world won’t get you the results you want if you don’t have the skills to do the job.

There is a whole continuum of underlying skills that support easy, efficient learning.  These are skills such as memory, attention, and auditory and visual processing that are not really taught anywhere, but just assumed when kids go to school.  If any of the critical underlying skills, or mental tools, are weak or not supporting the learner well enough, he will likely have to work harder and longer than he should, and often with lesser results.

It’s not fair and it’s frustrating, but thankfully, these underlying skills can be improved – often dramatically or completely.  It’s not a quick and easy fix.  Strengthening weak underlying processing/learning skills for a student with learning or attention challenges is a turning point in their life.

If your child is struggling with underachievement, 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 it.

Click here 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

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