In this Episode
Do you often feel alone searching for the right solution for your child’s learning and attention challenges?
Or frustrated that the school or other family members just don’t get it, and don’t know how to support your child’s needs?
In this week’s podcast episode, we have three parents who share their emotional journey of discovering their child’s learning challenges and finally getting the help that led to lasting results.
In this week's episode, you'll learn:
- Why schools might overlook learning challenges
- How even intelligent students can struggle in school
- Learning challenges can be 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙡𝙮 corrected
“Those comprehension issues are kind of hard to spot sometimes, especially with a really quiet child.
They don't know what to ask, so it doesn't become really glaring that they just really didn't get it.”
- Jill Stowell
- Learning Skills Continuum Ladder
- At Wit's End: Chapter 5 - How Learning Works - The 7 systems that can make or break easy, successful learning
- At Wit's End: Chapter 12 - Succeeding in School - What are the basic academic skills that students need in order to be successful in school and why are they are such a struggle for some students? In other words, what does it REALLY take to be successful at reading, writing, spelling, and math?
How do you handle your child if they are several grades behind?
Can SLC close the gap?
When is retention appropriate?
Tune in to the Bonus Q&A to hear how we help parents navigate this difficult decision.
[00:00:01.450] - Jill Stowell
Did you know that most learning problems, including diagnosed learning disabilities and dyslexia, can be permanently changed? So these high potential children and adults can have the opportunity, communities, and future they deserve. We feel great urgency to get this message out to parents of children with learning challenges. If the problems aren't corrected, children will suffer needlessly. They'll often take a lesser path for their future because they don't have the skills or the confidence to really pursue their dreams. This lesser path may mean not going to college, or moving from job to job, or even a life of crime. This is LD Expert Live.
[00:01:00.810] - Jill Stowell
Frankie is a perfect example of a boy with tons of potential whose learning challenges impacted his choices and most likely his future. Frankie was smart and charismatic, but he was also a scary kid. At twelve years old, he was already entrenched in a street gang, and all the students and teachers knew not to mess with him. I was a special education teacher in the public school, and Frankie was coming to me because he couldn't read. I really liked him, and I promised him I would teach him to read, but I couldn't.
[00:01:44.730] - Jill Stowell
I didn't know why such a smart boy couldn't read, and my very best efforts didn't make a difference. I didn't know how to get to the root of the problem. In fact, at that time, I didn't even know there was a root that I should be looking for. Frankie didn't believe that he could learn, and I hate to think where that took him in his life. But somehow I knew that couldn't be right. When Frankie got passed on to 7th grade, I left the public school and I began to search out the experts who were doing the research on the brain and learning and attention. I needed answers for these kids like Frankie, and that started me on the journey that has led us here today.
[00:02:38.310] - Jill Stowell
Welcome to LD Expert Live, your place for answers and solutions for learning differences, dyslexia, and attention challenges. I'm your host, Jill Stowell, founder of Stowell Learning Centers and author of Take the Stone Out of the Shoe: A Must Have Guide to Understanding, Supporting, and Correcting Dyslexia, Learning and Attention Challenges.
[00:03:19.950] - Jill Stowell
Is it your child's fault? Is it the teacher? Should you be doing something different? What will relatives and friends say if they know that your child can't keep up? And then one day, your smart, beautiful child comes home from school saying, I'm the dumbest kid in the class, and you know you have to do something. If you find someone who will really listen, they don't seem to get it. They don't really hear you. You get confusing messages, and almost everywhere you turn, you're told that your child will just have to learn to live with it. There are no real solutions. You better change your dreams. The future will just have to look different for your child.
[00:04:13.290] - Jill Stowell
Only a parent who has been there understands. Today we're going to hear from three of our Stowell Learning Center parents about their journey to understand and correct their child's learning difficulties. Kathi knew that there was something going on and she said she just felt crazy because no one else seemed to notice. Here's my interview with Kathi. Hi, Kathi. Thank you for today. We love working with Bella and we're just so proud of her. She's going to college next year, right?
[00:04:58.350] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
Absolutely, yes. She is getting to be a pretty confident girl these days, and I'm just happy she's happy and that we found Stowell and moving forward really great.
[00:05:13.970] - Jill Stowell
You know, she is doing great. But it wasn't always that way for her. Right? When did you first notice that she was struggling?
[00:05:25.950] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
Oh, goodness. Well, you know, of course it's always a long story, but the main pieces were I always knew there was something a little different and I didn't know how to pinpoint it. I didn't know exactly what it was. And then fourth grade and 8th grade, we tried to do an IEP for her through her school district because she went to a private school and failed multiple times. She just didn't meet the qualifications.
[00:06:03.850] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
But it was usually you go into a parent conference and they say, first thing is your daughter is wonderful. She is really great with all the kids and she has lots of friends and she's very sweet. I don't have any problems with her. But then they would tell me, oh, well, she's a little low in this, little low and that, but she'll catch up. So that was kind of the basis. And you hear that enough times and, you know, something doesn't click and she's falling behind slowly, slowly and up and down. So you get frustrated and you see their frustration. So you get to a point where there's nowhere else to turn to.
[00:06:52.530] - Jill Stowell
There are kids. She was one of those kids who sort of flew under the radar because she was sweet and she was so good with the other kids and quiet and helpful. I'm sure it's very frustrating. Then you think there's something, but the school says, no, she's going to be okay. She didn't qualify. You are not alone in that. But it feels like it when you're going through it. So what did you end up trying along the way?
[00:07:29.660] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
Well, we did tons of tutoring. I took my daughter's two private schools, and so I'm doing private school and tutoring. It seemed like it was never enough, but you keep searching, you keep trying to stay positive, but at the same time, like you said, you get frustrated. And the worst feeling in the world, I think, is that feeling of hopelessness, despair, and you think nobody feels the way you do. And you see that in your child, and as years go by, it gets a little worse and worse.
[00:08:15.300] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
So you get to a point where I knew I never gave up on her, but I gave up on where to go and what to do. So that's when I told my husband, I love my daughter, I give up, but I give up on finding somewhere I don't give up on her. So he was searching and I was searching, and that's when we found you guys, actually, on a website, searching the web, which I've done plenty of times before, never would come up with anything. And we tried a long time to go to get some private testing, but it was outrageous. She was younger.
[00:08:54.260] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
We thought maybe she would grow out of it, right? And then here we are, her senior year, and it's about to happen and we don't have answers. So it was interesting, to say the least.
[00:09:10.620] - Jill Stowell
And, you know, that's not an uncommon story. Your child is struggling just enough that you know it, but not everybody else knows it. You kind of get told or maybe even think, well, they're going to grow out of it. Maybe, but they don't. Those issues they're getting in the way are still there. So we're so happy that you found us. I know Sharon, the director at the Thousand Oak Center, just adores you, and the whole team loves working with Bella. So since starting at the Learning Center, what has changed for Bella? What have you seen?
[00:09:58.450] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
Her anxiety level down, just taking her time, and I think using skills that she should have learned a long time ago, but nobody knew what she needed. You get excited when you start something and your kids start something and you don't see them dreading it. So she knew this was for her benefit, and we kind of explained it, and she was so on board and going to Stowell, I'm telling you, if we didn't have Stowell, we wouldn't have made it through Covid. It was just that, and we started on Virtual. We did everything with virtual, and I didn't think it was a hindrance.
[00:10:59.230] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
It was finally, we're getting help, the help she needs, and let's move forward. And she can make decisions now, like simple things as, what do you want to go eat? She could never tell me where she I don't know. Let's see. Wherever you want to go now. I ask her, she tells me exactly where she wants to go and why, and she talks about her schoolwork. Never before did she talk about her schoolwork before. It was not even attempting it, and I knew it wasn't being lazy. There was something there that was just not connecting. So I feel connecting the dots is what Stowell has done for her. And grabbing that confidence is something she's learning now with the executive functioning, which is exciting.
[00:11:55.430] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
The only thing is, I can't wait for her to use it in real life. Right. With Covid, school is not an option right now, so I want her to practice it, but we're kind of limited on that. So I'm so glad that she can do these things with Stowell. And the way they do it is such a positive way and not the same as she was getting in school. She would ask for help, but it was never the right help over and over again.
[00:12:30.580] - Jill Stowell
And it's really interesting that you talk about her really wanting the help and being on board. I mean, so often I think we're a little bit afraid as parents to drag our kids to one more thing. But kids know that they're struggling, and they really want it to change. And so it's been so much fun seeing her come into her own and become confident. And we're really excited to see what her college experience is like. We hope that we'll kind of be past that Covid thing and she'll get the full college experience, because I feel like she's really ready.
[00:13:20.250] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
Well, absolutely. I'm more relieved because the thing you want to see in your child is that they can be independent. And I always used to worry about that, and now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And once she realizes what she's accomplished, that the sky is not the limit for her, that she can do anything she sets her mind to, because she has the tools now.
[00:13:55.640] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
And to make her feel like she's like everybody else and that she can move forward and starting at Stowell, and the process of trying to get your child help was really hard for me because I always thought that all these forms and papers that they asked parents to fill out, you almost would think that they're judging you. But people that are giving the forms, they don't tell you what they're for. So the IEP process, they don't tell parents what's going on. So you're kind of in the dark.
[00:14:34.170] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
But everything that we got at Stowell, every step of the process was explained to me and why, and if I have any questions, ask away. And going through everything and explaining it, what she might need and what I thought she might need, I felt really reassuring that if we had any doubts or questions, that it was going to be answered compared to, okay, yeah, fill this out. But I'm thinking, oh, my gosh, are they going to think I'm a bad mother or I'm not taking care of their needs? Just a lot of things.
[00:15:14.760] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
So going to Stowell felt like a breath of fresh air and that I was actually getting help and nobody was judging me. And they wanted to help. You guys wanted to help. It makes a huge difference when you're coming into an atmosphere. So we were really blessed with that. And we have to thank you.
[00:15:34.950] - Jill Stowell
Well, we have loved working with her with your family. And thank you so much for sharing. There are things that until you're that parent trying to navigate this alone, that you just don't realize. I never thought about how as a parent, you might feel judged as you fill out all that daunting paperwork, and there really are answers out there and it is certainly our mission to get that word out there. And I appreciate you helping us do that. Thank you so much, Kathi.
[00:16:16.150] - Kathi Morales-Ruiz
Oh, thank you. And I just can't wait to see what else has in store for everybody because it's a great organization to be a part of.
[00:16:30.230] - Jill Stowell
Kathi mentioned that they thought maybe Bella would grow out of the struggles as she got older, and that makes sense to think that, but here's why that doesn't happen. Many of the skills that are needed for ease and efficiency and learning are basically in place by about eight and a half years old. Memory, visual, motor and auditory skills are fairly well established by that point. By the second half of third grade, beginning of fourth grade, students are expected to have reading, writing, spelling and basic math under their belt. And the focus in school then shifts from the basics to learning new content and refining and getting more sophisticated with vocabulary and expression and thinking. Those underlying skills that create the foundation for learning the memory, visual, motor and auditory skills aren't ever really taught, but if they don't develop as expected, if they aren't pretty much in place by about eight and a half years old, they probably won't develop completely without intervention. So as students get older, they're working with those same inefficient or weak underlying skills, but the demands of each grade level are getting greater. This is why tutoring isn't enough. If you don't address those underlying skills, it won't solve the problem.
[00:18:07.190] - Jill Stowell
This next interview is with Susie. Susie was very proactive about getting help for her son Nathan, but struggled to really get the answers she believed were out there. Hi, Susie, thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:18:28.410] - Susie Willeford
Hi, thank you so much for having me.
[00:18:31.470] - Jill Stowell
You know, finding help when your child is struggling can be really hard and it can feel very lonely, and especially if it kind of feels like no one else is listening, which I think is a little bit of what you experienced along the way.
[00:18:50.430] - Susie Willeford
Yes, I definitely experienced with Nathan, I've been alone for a very long time and I felt that I wasn't supported within the school system, so I always had to advocate for myself and for Nathan. And it was really difficult because when you asked for help, I don't think that I was taken seriously or it was just something that just came along that they said, oh, it's going to go away, it's fine. But I think that a lot of the times I really felt I was on my own.
[00:19:34.530] - Jill Stowell
And Nathan is 18 now, right yes. So when did you first notice that he was struggling? What were some of the red flags that you saw?
[00:19:47.610] - Susie Willeford
Nathan. It was really hard because people may say, like, wow, you didn't notice, and he's already 18. And I said, you know what? I did notice. But he's on the spectrum. And I didn't know he was on the spectrum. I just thought he was just a normal kid, just very shy, very timid. But I knew that he was struggling in school. So what I did on my own is I would actually hire tutors. I would get people to help me at the house.
[00:20:21.780] - Susie Willeford
And the first sign was when he was in elementary, I think it was like, fifth grade. And they said, oh, he just needs a little bit of help. And I wasn't like, I know that he does, but then every single year, they would tell me, we love Nathan. We want 30 Nathans in our classroom. And I was like, but he's struggling. But then they're like, sometimes it's just a phase. It goes away. So then when he started middle school, the same thing. He was struggling. He was struggling. I kept fighting for him to have great teachers because we have great teachers, and we would actually put him in with teachers that had a little bit of experience with students like Nathan.
[00:21:10.960] - Susie Willeford
But he wasn't diagnosed. So I think that during middle school, I just kept asking for 504. I kept asking for an IEP, and I was denied, right? So they were saying that there was nothing wrong with him, and I said, you know, there is something wrong with him. And I just felt that nobody would listen. And I just kept pushing and kept asking year after year, until one day I said, you know what? I didn't understand how the process works within the school district, so I just sent an email. I sent a letter to the school district, and that's when I got heard. And then we started with the 504 plans, but still I was denied for the IEP.
[00:22:01.330] - Jill Stowell
It's really hard, especially it's like you want your child to be good, and you want teachers to love them, but sometimes then those kids don't get noticed as much as the ones who make a big ruckus when they're struggling. And again, our kids are very smart, and they a lot of times can do just well enough that they don't quite qualify for help. Do you remember some of the specific kinds of things that you saw, like when he was trying to do homework or make friends?
[00:22:42.550] - Susie Willeford
Yeah. So Nathan is very quiet, so I just thought that maybe he was shy. And some of the specific things that I would notice is that he would sit there and he would try to do his homework, but it would just take him a very long time to do it, or he would do it very quickly just to get it done because he didn't understand. So I think that's one of the things that I found. So teachers would say, well, he didn't fill in even with the 504, he wouldn't fill in like, oh, he missed 20. He didn't answer 20 of the questions. And again, I would have to be an advocate. I said, either he didn't understand, he doesn't comprehend it, or nobody came to cue him. Do you understand? Or nobody came to ask him, hey, Nathan, how did you understand this question? Do I need to reframe it for you? Right. So I think that I felt that they perhaps thought that maybe he was lazy, that he just didn't want to complete his assignments because he wouldn't complete them all.
[00:23:54.610] - Jill Stowell
And those comprehension issues are kind of hard to spot sometimes, especially with a really quite quiet child. They don't know what to ask, so it doesn't become really blaring that they just really didn't get it right.
[00:24:17.590] - Susie Willeford
So it was like time and time again, it was, well, he's not focusing. He's not paying attention. Really great kid. He does what he's asked, but I still have to be an advocate and say, are you queuing him? He needs to be I need another assessment. And still I was ignored. I don't see that he is struggling. And I just felt that and I was so shy myself that I wouldn't say anything, but then I just kept getting denied.
[00:24:56.590] - Jill Stowell
Yeah, well, I know when he came to Stowell Learning Center, we were so excited. It was kind of like, oh, we just got to get our hands on this guy. We know we can help. And that wasn't too long ago. What drew you there? Because I know you really connected right away with Sharon, our director there in Thousand Oaks.
[00:25:24.850] - Susie Willeford
Yes, and it's a really long story. Okay. So he was after middle school, he went to high school. I thought that I had Nathan prepared with great teachers, and I felt that I was talking to the I felt that if I connected with faculty, if I connected with Admin, that he would get the best services right. Even though they genuinely do want to help, but Nathan still struggled. And I said, I have to do something because I don't feel that Nathan is going to be prepared for the real world.
[00:26:03.630] - Susie Willeford
I don't want Nathan to be just pushed away. I don't want him to be passed. I didn't want him to have standardized material and say, this is what the standard is, and as long as he completes it, then he's going to be fine. So I started looking for other schools. I started looking for places where that can help Nathan. I called a lot of places, and a lot of places also they tested him a lot of places they couldn't help him. But I think what it was with Stowell was that actually, to be honest with you, was that human connection. I felt that I was being heard for the first time.
[00:26:51.800] - Susie Willeford
And after my conversation with one of your staff, Sharon, I just felt that Nathan was going to be helped. I hung up, and I was literally crying, thinking that, you know what? I really feel that still was going to be the place. And I almost felt like a relief knowing that there was a place that could help Nathan. There's a lot of great places to be able to take children, but here, I really felt that there was a connection where I knew that Nathan can grow.
[00:27:35.570] - Jill Stowell
And so what changes have you seen with him?
[00:27:41.890] - Susie Willeford
So at first, I was like, okay, I'm so excited, and I wanted to see progress right away. But things take time. It's steps. And then I took a step back and I said, you know what? Everything is we have to take a step forward. And I really like the structure. I really liked how Stowell designs everything. So they tell you, this is what we're going to do, so these are the steps.
[00:28:09.440] - Susie Willeford
But when I asked Nathan, I said, Nathan. So it was a couple, just maybe a month or two. And I said, Nathan, how do you feel? He's like, I feel good. I'm like, well, no, but how do you feel when you're reading something now? So are you able to understand it a little more? And he's like, yeah. I said, what you're learning at Stowell, are you able to apply it to now, your school work? And he said yes. But it wasn't until that couple of months later where he said, mom, I'm really comprehending what I'm doing. And that made me feel so good because I know that as long as he's in this program and after our program ends, I really feel that Nathan is going to be successful and ready for college.
[00:29:08.370] - Susie Willeford
And that was the biggest thing with me, is that I didn't feel if I left him at the school district, honestly, I didn't feel that he was going to become successful after college. There was no way he was at such a low grade level. And I'm really excited to know how he's progressing in the next couple of months because I've just seen so much improvement in his scores that and just in his overall confidence, too.
[00:29:39.370] - Susie Willeford
He's a little bit more open or he feels a little more confident even when he's reading things. I'm like, oh, Nathan never asked me to look at something else, or he's more interested in, let me get online. I'll give you an example. So he said, Mom, I want to sign up for this Red Cross program. And something that he's never done, he literally got the computer, looked through the information, like, oh, okay. So I'm like, now he's telling me what his needs are because he can read and he's able to comprehend what he needs to be looking for, if that makes sense, right?
[00:30:20.370] - Jill Stowell
Absolutely. And he's really starting to think about what he's interested in and how he can get information about it, so things that are really age appropriate for him.
[00:30:39.550] - Jill Stowell
We love working with him and we're very excited about the changes that we're seeing. And also we've enjoyed the fact that he really wants this, too. He really wants to make changes and we love that.
[00:30:57.790] - Susie Willeford
Yeah. If I may regarding those changes, you know how sometimes our students he really wants to learn. He really wants to. And I just can't tell you, Jill, how happy he is in this program. I am so excited. I feel that he has a future now and everything that he's learning, all the comprehension, all the fundamentals, I know that he's going to be able to become successful. And I just want to thank you, thank your staff for just being there for us. From the beginning, I was really lost and I didn't know what to do. I will say this forever. Like, amazing. It's just a big part of our life.
[00:31:52.090] - Jill Stowell
Well, thank you so much for sharing all of that. I think that there are a lot of parents out there feeling that lost, feeling like they know there's got to be more for their child, but they don't know what it is and where to go. So thank you so much for sharing with us today.
[00:32:12.630] - Susie Willeford
[00:32:15.610] - Jill Stowell
So we've heard from two parents whose kids went a very long time before they were identified as needing help. And you might think, wow, it's just so obvious to me as a parent. Why isn't it obvious at school? Well, one reason is because generally kids really do want to please and do well, so they find ways to compensate for the challenges, which sometimes makes them hard to spot. I'll tell you what I think is the biggest reason why it can be so hard to identify and really help our struggling students. We've talked before about the learning skills continuum and about how those skills on the lower rungs of the continuum need to be in place in order for students to learn comfortably and independently at their potential. Up at the top, I want to show you a list of some of those skills. Just look at how many different skills there are in each area.
[00:33:43.510] - Jill Stowell
I know you can't read this very well, but don't worry, you can download your own copy of the continuum at stowelllcenter.com/continuum. Each student has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, so there's not just one obvious symptom that a teacher would spot to tell them that there's a real issue going on. It looks different for each student and often some of these skills are strengths for the student that they can compensate with. There are just a lot of pieces to the puzzle, which is why it's so important to us to use the continuum to guide us when we're evaluating and creating a plan for each student.
[00:34:34.570] - Jill Stowell
I want you to hear from one more parent. Brendan's daughter is a gifted child, and she was only seven when she started at the Learning Center. Welcome, Brendan. Thank you for being here today.
[00:34:50.590] - Brendan Brinn
Of course. Thanks, Joe. How are you?
[00:34:52.540] - Jill Stowell
Good. As parents, we're pretty much willing to do anything for our children, but when you have a child who's struggling, especially such a bright little girl like Lily, it's hard to know exactly what you're seeing and where to turn. So what were some of those first red flags or signs that you saw with Lily that made you think she had some challenges, and I guess in her case, also some gifts?
[00:35:29.730] - Brendan Brinn
Sure. Well, from an early age, we knew that Lily had a variety of gifts. She was verbal and intelligible at around 18 months of age, so that was a site more advanced than we would otherwise have expected. So she was speaking complete sentences. She has had a phenomenal memory. As she would read something, she can bring it back and recall months and months later with no big effort on her part. So she is an amazing girl, and her gifts were very evident early on.
[00:36:14.990] - Brendan Brinn
In terms of challenges, my wife and I noticed that she had trouble, usually physically, in terms of her coordination. There would be times when she would be sitting in a chair, for instance, and with no other thing happening, she might fall out of the chair, or she would seem a little encumbered in terms of how she would walk and move. She had some issues as time went on with the fluidity of her speech, her normal conversation being interrupted, not in terms of stutter, although at times would sound like it, but in terms of her repeating the last words of prior parts of her sentences. So there were some signs that she needed some help.
[00:37:12.050] - Jill Stowell
And so when you noticed those struggles, especially again with her being so bright, obviously, what was some of the advice that you got from other people in your house?
[00:37:26.690] - Brendan Brinn
I talked with my wife about this. I mean, for that matter, I've talked about this with my wife overall, in preparation for our interview. The advice that we got from people was not so helpful because those people were thinking about Lily's gifts, her strengths, which were evident, and people could see that, but they thought that because Lily was so gifted, that any issues she would have weren't things to be overly concerned about.
[00:38:01.000] - Brendan Brinn
We had our daycare provider at the time when she was growing up. When asked about what advice she would have, she just kind of shrugged it off and seemed to think that because Lily had so many talents and gifts that this was not going to be any kind of difficulty for her to eventually deal with. But as a parent, that's not really a satisfying answer, right. We want to be able to help our kids to live their lives without having to deal with things holding them back, no matter if they can eventually overcome them to some degree without our help. But it's our job as parents to help them with that.
[00:38:47.930] - Jill Stowell
Right. And that is one of the things we see with our gifted kids, is that they just are able to manage well enough, but it doesn't mean that they're thriving. And so when you see that disconnect as a parent, you know that that's not exactly right.
[00:39:12.170] - Brendan Brinn
Right. They're compensating rather than actually thriving, as you're saying. So it's kind of like they're not to be too loose with my terminology, the walking wounded. They have things that they're still dealing with, baggage they're carrying, and they're using their strengths to try to get past that. But that doesn't change the fact that they have challenges.
[00:39:35.120] - Jill Stowell
Right, exactly. So why did you decide to get Lily started at Stowell Learning Center? What clicked for you as you were researching?
[00:39:48.770] - Brendan Brinn
It turned out that we found out about Stowell. And given that we're in Michigan and you're in California. That was kind of a more I don't want to say chance thing. But it came about because my daughter is involved with the Institute for Educational Advancement. Had done some classes there and had been involved with programs there. And my wife and I had got a notice for a support group for gifted children with challenges. And we attended that. And the Stowell Center was mentioned during that web broadcast.
[00:40:30.010] - Brendan Brinn
We took a look at the offerings that the Stowell Center had, and those matched up well with what we thought were areas of concern, call it areas where we wanted to see if we could help Lily further develop. So in terms of the offerings, the breadth of offerings, really for things like physical coordination, mental exercises, those appealed to us in terms of covering a range of Lily's potential. So that attracted us to the Stowell Center. That and the fact that we could actually do our program online, where in earlier times we would maybe not have that opportunity simply because we didn't live locally to a center.
[00:41:29.270] - Jill Stowell
Right. You've been completely remote the whole time throughout her program. Has that worked for you and for Lily?
[00:41:41.450] - Brendan Brinn
It's worked out well. We've been able to do our exercises, and of course, a lot of the activity was self-paced. So in addition to meeting with our therapist on a weekly basis, in the beginning it was more frequent. Of course, it was several times in a week. But we were able offline to go through the exercises that had been provided for us with the AMPS material and the later exercises that we've gotten and be somewhat self paced. But also we were monitored by our therapist to make sure that we were going according to a plan. She would give us our schedules for exercises for a given week, and we would follow those and coordinate our reporting of results to make sure that our findings during the exercises that we do would be synchronized to a Google document so that they could be reviewed later.
[00:42:50.310] - Jill Stowell
And what kind of progress have you noticed with Lily?
[00:42:55.410] - Brendan Brinn
We've noticed a lot of positive developments with Lily. Her fluidity, when I was mentioning that she might have some breaks in terms of the flow of her speech, that has improved a lot. You don't want to have the expectation where the changes are night and day. It has been a gradual process, but we've noticed a lot of improvement and significant improvement with how she's been.
[00:43:25.600] - Brendan Brinn
As I started to mention the fluidity of her speech, being able to be comprehensible and go through a conversation without too much interruption. She has developed more physical awareness, awareness of her body, the space that she takes up, how her movements can be coordinated, where before that was more of a struggle. She has developed over the course of our therapy, much better organizational skills. She's gotten more on top of her daily work and is better able to manage the demands, the asks, so to speak, of her school. And she's gotten better with focusing on her daily material, the things that she's asked to concentrate on in a given day. We've noticed globally a lot of benefits from her work with the Stowell Center, so we're very happy with that.
[00:44:33.070] - Jill Stowell
Great. Well, that is always so wonderful for me to hear from parents. And I know our Irvine team really enjoyed working with your family and with Lily, and they're very proud of her and you're a great support for her. So thank you for giving this encouragement to other parents as well.
[00:44:59.590] - Brendan Brinn
Of course. Thank you for developing this. Thank you.
[00:45:06.970] - Jill Stowell
So just because a child is very bright, it doesn't mean automatically that all of those underlying learning skills are in place. In fact, sometimes our kids have real discrepancies between their strengths and their weaknesses, as Lily did. She was very strong in some high level skills on the learning skills continuum, but weak in skills at the very bottom level. The core learning skills, which are the developmental, visual and motor skills that build the foundation for coordination, attention, organization, planning and overall flow and fluency. I hope you've enjoyed hearing from some of our parents today. I'm very grateful to Brendan, Susie and Kathi for sharing. This is all The Expert Live, your place for answers and solutions for learning disabilities, dyslexia and auditory processing and attention challenges. Thanks again to our wonderful parents for sharing with us. And thank you all for joining us and sharing and subscribing.
[00:00:00.730] - Lauren Ma
What our kids do, you know, to kind of compensate and to kind of compensate for the skills that they don't have. Ray Lynn commented, I know my daughter is quiet, she is helpful. She can be a leader in class and stays just below her class when it comes to testing. And so we've definitely seen that in students before, where they fly under the radar, just like Kathi said of Bella or even Nathan. Teachers wish that they had 30 Nathan in the class and we've heard that before. Definitely
[00:00:39.950] - Lauren Ma
Lizzy Liz has a longer comment and it cut off. I'm going to look for that. Behavior, or simply shutting down is what her child does. My daughter's teachers have often said that she knows the material, but it's like she can't get herself to do it. This may be too easy work for her or she just doesn't want to do it. She just procrastinates and didn't copy the information on the board, so visual processing might be involved. She gets in trouble for humming when she's trying to focus and do her work. So that's some auditory stimulation. Yes. OT has said this about our daughter.
[00:01:15.860] - Lauren Ma
She is so bright and she will be okay. Her brightness will let me find the rest of it wIll compensate. Yes, so she was really resonated with Brendan's daughter, Lily. It's not fair that our kids have to struggle through life and not reach their full potential. So we can see that too, that some kids get by their strengths and again, fly under the radar. So those are some parents checking in. We have.
[00:01:44.450] - Lauren Ma
Let's see, Adelina. She is a current parent with us at our Chino center, and she's asking of the group and the parents who are here if they might have an answer or in Mom Squad. We can continue this conversation. She's asking for the parents whose children were in public or private schools. How did you handle your child being several grades behind? Did completing the Stowell program help them catch up? Did anyone consider retention? And so we can have some parents comment below or comment on mom squad. But Jill, have you seen over the years in working with kiddos that have been significantly behind? Have you seen that gap close? And then a second question when is retention appropriate?
[00:02:27.750] - Jill Stowell
Definitely we do see the gap close. And our goal for students is that when they leave us, they are comfortably independently working at grade level. The challenge is that it does take time, and you heard that from our parent guests, that it takes time. It's a process to build these underlying skills and then remediate the academic pieces. And that's the hard part, is that time in between when you start and when the gap actually gets closed is challenging.
[00:03:03.400] - Jill Stowell
It is because you're putting in extra work, going to the learning center, and you're still doing lots and lots and lots of homework support. But certainly the goal is for them to get to that point that they are independent and we've been in this business for such a long time that we absolutely see that and have seen it over the years.
[00:03:27.510] - Jill Stowell
In terms of retention, what you need to understand is that retention will not solve a learning challenge. What retention does is it does solve a maturity issue. If your child is very young in their grade, or sometimes kids just tend to be young for their age, then giving them more time can be helpful.
[00:03:56.450] - Jill Stowell
The challenge is that that's hard to do as they get older because there are a lot of social implications to that and a lot of things that kids internalize about that. So if your child is five or six and you think, gosh, they're very immature or they have a very young birth date, I'd like to give them another year. Great, do that and tell them you're just a little bit young to go to first grade yet or whatever, but just be careful as they get older, it's not going to solve the problem and you just have to really look carefully at the social implications of that.
[00:04:47.790] - Lauren Ma
Absolutely. We have another long question and comment from Lizzy. Liz. So I'll get the rest of it. It cuts it off. Thank you so much for sharing knowledge and support, jill, our daughter is seven in private school and a student, but she struggles with completing classwork. It's like she gets stuck before she can start. We got an assessment and have an understanding of what is happening with her. We worked with Michelle, who is our evaluator in Chino. We are trying to work out a few things so we can make this happen financially. Is this intervention looked at as the earlier they get it the better? So that's part of the question.
[00:05:25.300] - Lauren Ma
I've worked with her through OT and my own research and let me find the rest. But when she's in school, she won't use the skills I'm teaching. She sometimes just shuts down. We look at this as the greatest investment, but I just don't know if she's mature enough for such a big intervention. So kind of a question about age, if it's appropriate and is earlier better?
[00:05:54.610] - Jill Stowell
First, I just want to say the brain is amazing, it is never too late. So if your child is a little bit older, don't worry, it's not too late. We even work with adults. That being said, the earlier you can do this the better because you don't have such a big gap that you have to make up. And when kids struggle in school, it impacts their self esteem and their habits. And so the earlier you can change that and put a stronger foundation for learning under that for them, the better. And, you know, I will say that my son, when he was little, I would try to help him with certain things, with writing or math or something and he would invariably say, that's not the way my teacher does it. And so a lot of times kids kind of tend to reject what their parent says, but they'll learn it and they'll do it from someone else. That's just sort of the nature of things, I think. But definitely not too young.
[00:07:17.180] - Lauren Ma
Yeah, same thing with my daughter. So I definitely understand that. We have a question about layering in programs and time. So uma, is asking can a parent do Stowell program and a comprehension program like Linda Mood Bell at the same time to intensify the progress? Is more always better?
[00:07:41.170] - Jill Stowell
Oh, there's a lot in that question. Well, first of all, I would say to you that you don't need to be doing those two programs at the same time. We also address comprehension and it's not that it would be in conflict, it would not. Pat Lindemood was one of my very early mentors, but it is not necessary to do that. If you're being offered at school, absolutely anything they're going to give you there, please take it. It's more better. Working intensively can be very effective and powerful. That is something that you can explore with us. We do intensive programs. It is not necessarily better for every student and that's what we have to look at. And also some of the different kinds of therapies we do the sound therapy. More is not always better. There is a prescribed amount that is best and there are certain things that take some time for the brain to really set it in.
[00:09:03.750] - Lauren Ma
Right? Yeah. And we never want to be counterproductive. I mean, we've definitely seen overload in students and we want to prevent that as much as possible. We are looking always for functional changes. And so I know sometimes it sounds kind of counterintuitive to say, okay, less is more sometimes. But if you overload the brain and you stress the brain we did a show in the past about routine reflexes and that's when the brain is under stress, those reflexes fire. And a lot of times the higher cortex isn't receiving the message or if the child's, invite or flight. It's not effective. So we always try to look out for all of that. And that's kind of the beauty of this continuum based learning, is that we're looking at the whole child, not just at one particular skill at a time. So definitely.
[00:10:00.070] - Lauren Ma
We have Darlene saying, the last parent kept saying she loved the program. Is this a program or a school or both? Can a child continue at their own school and get a program from us?
[00:10:15.610] - Jill Stowell
We are a learning center. And so we work with students in we create a plan for each student based on their specific needs. So we call that programming. We create programming for each student. We are not a school. So students are in school and we work with them supplementally.
[00:10:42.170] - Lauren Ma
And Adelina is asking what is the youngest age that you think would be appropriate to start at the Stowell center.
[00:10:50.330] - Jill Stowell
We work with students as young as four. Yeah, we work with students as young as four. We just need to really look at our really young ones and make sure that we're addressing real issues and not just development. But we do look at that carefully with our young children.
[00:11:17.550] - Lauren Ma
Absolutely. And Lizzie is just commenting back. Thank you, Jill. Yes, totally happens. And makes sense. They get enough with our parenting. Thank you. So a big relief to parents, I think, that hearing from some parents who have been in the trenches has been really resonated with some of our viewers today. We're getting a lot of just thank yous and comments throughout the interviews of parents just really identifying with those stories, because a lot of parents have been there just being lost with their child through this journey of learning challenges. So thank you to everyone who has commented and who asked questions.
- Episode 64: Brain Training for Self-Care, Focus, and Productivity – Alex Doman
- Episode 63: Dear Moms of Neurodiverse Learners… – Megan Champion
- Episode 62: 2E and Misunderstood – Lauren Ma
- Episode 61: School Refusal, Digital Media, and Medication and ADHD – Dr. Keeban Nam
- Episode 60: Mental Flexibility Tools for Neurodiverse Learners – Jill Stowell
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