An increasing number of parents are told their children have a learning disability, and need to be evaluated, and possibly medicated. They have concerns about the latter because medications do have side effects.
There certainly are times when medication is the answer. However there are numerous cases where children have other conditions that are too often misdiagnosed as a learning disabilities because symptoms can mimic each other. So parents are wise to be apprehensive. This article provides valuable information and alternative choices that will help you and your child with this important decision. Note: These are not all the possibliteas, nor is it to put the blame on parents or teachers. This article is provided to impower parents with infomation.
In this article, you will find the following: I. Scotopic Sensitivity (vision problem), II. Artisan personalities, III. Natural Time Clocks, IV. the hearing problem called "cookie bites", V. The effects of stress (cortisol) on the brain, VI. pronouncing phonic sounds incorrectly, VII. whole word verses phonics. VIII. Parents who have children with learning disabilities have a wealth of information to offer others] ...please leave your comments at "link to our blog" so as to help other families. Thank you.
I. Scotopic Sensitivity (also known as Irlen Syndrome) is a sensitivity to some lighting, that causes children and adults to see things (including letters on paper) as if they were viewing a snowy TV screen, or it can cause them to see inanimate objects moving violently . Some or all of the following symptoms can be noticed in those that have Scotopic Sensitivity:
º Light sensitivity in conditions like glare from lights (car headlights), glare from surfaces, bright lighting, florescent lights (including energy saving light bulbs), sunlight and night vision.
º Contrast problems like black text on a white background can cause the letters or background to move rapidly for these children.
º Window blinds or verticals create a contrast that can create vision problems.
º Stripe and bold patterns can cause them to see violent movement where there is none, or to see them in 3D when they are flat.
º Restricted field of clear vision. They might see only part of a page clearly while the rest is blurry causing them to have trouble keeping track of where they are at on a page.
º Poor depth perception
º Attention and concentration is difficult for these children because of the above described
º These conditions can also cause them to be more susceptible to migraines and headaches
º Note: Some of these children love to draw, but refuse to read. Extreme cases of this condition have been misdiagnosed as Asperger Syndrome.
Note: According to Dr. Aman, this condition can Lead to headaches, anxiety, depression, problems reading, and depth perception issues. He further states that getting this condition treated and properly diagnosed can make a significant difference in your physical and mental health.
________________________________________________________________ II. The Hands On Learner (Artisan Personality) is often misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities such as ADD or hyperactivity. They are also often described as “immature“, and held back in school repeatedly for this reason.
These children are brilliant until they enter the traditional school environment. They are the first to learn any task that is “hands on” like riding a bike. They won’t give up until they master such tasks…they might fall off, get skinned up, but are right back on their project until they succeed.
º They like to entertain and to be entertained
º Prefer visual over verbal learning
º The more game like the instruction, the better
º Team play and competition work well with these children
º It is more important to praise their performance, than to praise their product
º They like short activities in which they can move around
º Workbooks and flash cards can be devastating to these children
________________________________________________________________ III. Natural Time clocks
Speaking of one size not fitting all; natural time clocks for learning are different in children. My second grandson was a perfect example:
Koty had learned all of his phonic sounds (from a phonics game…..because he hated flash cards), and could read all of his early reader books. He also enjoyed sounding out large words like "premium" as he and his mother traveled around town playing word games. But he had no desire to pick up a book and read it. He preferred, instead, to have his mother read to him as she had from the time he was little. Mother was becoming a bit worried, because other kids his age were able to read better than koty. But she had read the book "Better Late Than Early" (a book about Delayed Academics) by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and, as a result, decided to do as the scientific research suggested.
One day Koty again asked her to read a book for him. He was fascinated by the picture on the cover, and wanted to know what was inside. "Sorry Koty", she replied, "I just don't have the time right now". Koty, anxious to learn what was inside this interesting book, began reading it by himself. He did not put it down until he had finished. Mom even allowed him to read late in bed to nurture his enthusiasm.
What a miracle! Just as the Moores had predicted, Koty's enthusiasm was lit. From that day forward he became an avid reader, and advanced several grade levels in a very short period of time...passing his peers.
My little brother, who is now grown, describes himself as having experienced this same situation. He says he learned to read later than most because he simply was not ready. By the way, he is of above average intelligence.
By the way, as a child Albert Einstein was a slow learner, and his teacher believed that he would not succeed in any career.
One can learn more about this research in the book: Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education
This book is an excellent resource for understanding children's natural learning time clocks. The authors back up their findings with scientific research, and experience. The book is out of print, so new ones are collectables. However used ones are available at a reasonable price (see link)..
Recent research reveals many children are misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities simply because of their birth month (simply too young).
________________________________________________________________ IV. Hearing conditions such As “Cookie Bites“
This one I experience myself, and it is very often undiagnosed until late in life (for me t was in my 30‘s). Hearing specialists can test for this condition, and prescribe digital hearing aids to help. Allow me to describe this condition for you.
Children with this condition will be able to hear some sounds very well, and others not so well. For example: I hear Rs, and Gs. However F, and S sound just alike to me unless I am able to read your lips. These children become very proficient at reading lips, and logically filling in missing sounds and words. As a result parents often never realize that it is an actual hearing loss.
º You will find these children seem to follow instructions better when they are looking at you then they do when not able to see your face.
º They will also commonly mispronounce words causing them to be poor spellers, and poor at decoding phonic sounds to form words (they often pronounce phonic sounds incorrectly).
º Tip: when teaching these children their phonic sounds, be sure they are able to look directly at your lips.
My children say they thought I was ignoring them when they said Mom. The truth was, I did not hear the Ms…I only heard short vowel o.
________________________________________________________________ V. Stress And The Toxic Hormone Cortisol When we experience stress, it causes an elevated level of the toxic hormone cortosol, and children are less able to deal with stress.
Studies show that the toxic effect of excessive cortisol resulting from stress, has an effect on the brain. Note: The effects can be lasting if stress happens over a long period of time. This hormone was found to be one of the major causes of behavior problems, learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, hyperactivity, ext), confusion, and impaired thinking in adults and in children. This hormone effects children's ability to learn.
I find children can become stressed simply because they think something is wrong with them if other children are learning to read faster then they are. Some of the conditions mentioned above , diet (like an allergy or sensitivity to sugar) or even incorrect disciplining procedures can cause stress. Very sensitive children often need different discipline practices than other children might. In large classrooms this is often very hard to accomplish (one size never fits all).
Madeline Lavine PhD is a psychologist with over 30 years experience working with children. In her book, Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, she explains that the way we are educating children today is actually causing learning disabilities.
________________________________________________________________ VI. Pronouncing Phonic Sounds Incorrectly
I have worked with many children who falsely believed that something was wrong with them because they were not reading as well as other children, and this alone can cause stress for children (elevated cortisol levels). Pronouncing the phonic sounds incorrectly is one of the most common causes of an inability to read.
One of my students was enunciating only the letter w incorrectly. But she believed that something was wrong with her because others were reading better than she was, and it became a self fulfilling prophecy. She was stressed every time she was asked to read a book, She could read perfectly while playing our reading game because play takes away the stress. But put a book in front of her, and she couldn’t read the same word that she just read while playing the game.
So in this child’s case I used the board game to teach her blending of the phonic sounds (especially words with w in them). After she became confident that she could read using the game, I presented her with a grade level book. When she struggled with a word in the book, I simply put that word on the red part of the board game (not playing the game, just using the static cling letters, and placing the word anywhere on the board). She confidently read the word placed on the game board. Than I had her move back and forth from the game to the book until she got it correctly in the book. After doing this for a period of time, she lost her fear of books.
She went from failing status to top reading group in her class, and the teacher said it also improved her spelling. The following video explains more so that you can check to see if your child is experiencing this condition:
________________________________________________________________ VII. Phonic Sounds Verses Whole Word
This was another one I personally experienced. I suspect my teacher resorted to teaching me word recognition because she recognized that I was not grasping the phonic sounds. She likely never realized it was due to the “cookie bite” hearing loss I describe above.
However not knowing the phonic sounds caused me to read very slowly, and to hate reading. It took me hours to do homework that took other children a much shorter time to accomplish. It was not until I learned phonics that I began to love reading, and my past speed reading classes finally took effect! The following video explains more:
________________________________________________________________ VIII If your child has learning disabilities: Meet Karen, a tutor, and hear what she has to say about the children she helps with Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome:
Intel has a new reading device to help children and adults with learning disabilities.
We found the reading device available at Amazon: Intel Reader
Many parents who have children with Autism are finding great results by using the method taught at RDI Connect.
________________________________________________________________ IX. Your Thoughts And Experiences
I am sure there are other conditions that can help parents and educators discover solutions that will help these increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with learning disabilities. It is a stressful time for the parents, but also for the children involved. If you have information or personal experiences with learning disabilities, your input would be most helpful to others. Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comment box at the following link: link to our blog so as to help these families. Thank you.