Diagnose And Correct Learning Problems


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Lisa Harp discusses what can be done to diagnose strengths and weaknesses and help a child who may be having trouble in school

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Diagnose And Correct Learning Problems

  1. 1. HOW TO DIAGNOSE AND CORRECT LEARNING PROBLEMS So your child can succeed in school and in life
  2. 2. You may freely distribute this work as long as it is left in it's entirety and the links are left intact. Published and printed in the USA and marketed worldwide. Copyright 2007 by Lisa Harp. All rights reserved. For information contact: Learning Link Technologies P.O. Box 624 Burson, CA 95225 (209)772-9523 www.learning-aids.com
  3. 3. Did you have dreams that your child would be an Honor Roll student? Or maybe have straight A’s? But with every report card, have those dreams been shattered like a broken window? Perhaps you have a bright child who just isn’t doing well in school. Or, you may have a child who has been labeled with Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Differences, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or Dyscalculia. Maybe you have an Individualized Education Plan for your child, but you’ve found this really hasn’t helped. You’ve trusted the schools to guide you through the system, but for some reason, you keep getting stuck at a dead end street. Isn’t it time you took your child’s education into your own hands? The Choice Is Yours. If you’re just starting out on a quest to help your child succeed in school, you can choose the system that teachers and parents use to actually correct learning issues, or you can continue with your current situation and the results you have been getting. Again, The Choice Is Yours. You’re about to learn of something so vital to your child’s education, yet so simple to use, you’ll wonder how you got along without it.
  4. 4. Meet Lisa Wouldn’t you love to have a learning expert help you with your child’s learning issues? To take your hand and lead you through the often confusing and frustrating maze of getting the right education and resources for your child? Through independent research, classes, and over ten years of teaching and working with children, Lisa has perfected a system for assessing and correcting learning problems. Since 1983 Lisa has been a teacher and educator who has searched endlessly for methods to help children succeed academically. The Sensory Learning System is like no other learning method and has been used successfully by parents, teachers, and anyone interested in helping a child succeed in school. The Sensory Learning System is unique in that it approaches correcting learning problems by addressing the child as a whole being – not just parts or academic pieces. The brain, visual system, auditory system, kinesthetic (tactile or hands on) systems are actually developed through activities and exercises and correct any “wiring” problems that can interfere with learning. Lisa feels that every child is special and has gifts to bring to the world. School should be safe, fun, and geared toward learning. If a child has negative school experiences, then the child needs to be given tools for success and shown how to use them.
  5. 5. WARNING: This report is not for everyone! Unless you can identify with some of the following conditions, this report may not be for you. • You’ve been searching for a way to help your child do better in school but have been met with so many obstacles along the way that you don’t know where to turn. • You understand that the schools (in most cases) are not equipped to actually help your child overcome a learning problem and that if you want your child to succeed in school you will need to take the bull by the horns yourself. • You are looking for something beyond traditional learning methods, because traditional methods have not worked for your child. • You’ve already tried numerous resources available and nothing seems to work. • You want to pinpoint where the problem is and find a way to fix it, not sugarcoat it. • You spend an extraordinary amount of time at your child’s school and helping with homework and feel your time could be better spent. • You feel that your child has been mistreated or misdiagnosed by teachers or school officials, and you would like to find a way to help your child fit into the school system more easily so that these judgments can go away. • You are exhausted from all you do to help your child in school and you need someone to guide you through a process that will give you and your child more time for fun activities instead of school work. • You have invested huge amounts of money and time in an effort to help your child. • You are willing to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day with your child initially in order to correct any learning issues. If you can’t do this, then you are willing to find someone who can (friend, grand parent, college student, etc.)
  6. 6. Can You Really Correct a Learning Problem? Learning problems, LD, ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Dyscalculia…. Oh my goodness, everywhere you turn there’s a label, a remedy, a book, an expert. Where do you go if your child fits into one of these categories? What do you do? How about if your child doesn’t fit into one of these categories and is just having a rough time in school and needs a little tune-up? What if you don’t have any real information but just a nudging little feeling that something isn’t quite right, that your child just seems to learn differently than other children? Where do you go for help? Who do you turn to, and who do you trust? There’s just so much information to wade through… As if you didn’t have enough to do already! “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles Swindoll, clergyman
  7. 7. Look, every day that goes by without help for a kid who is having a hard time in school is a lost day. And, if you’ve tried bits and pieces, your results will show just that – bits and pieces may improve, but that is all. Yes, learning problems can actually be corrected – fixed and repaired. Students who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities or who are failing in normal classes have gone on to be Honor Roll students. Time and again. Like a clock ticking with certainty. But, in order to correct a learning problem – the whole child must be dealt with – body, brain, arms, legs, eyes, ears, hands. There is no magic pill to take, no elixir, no remedy that works overnight. If someone claims that they can do this, it just isn’t true. Some systems or programs will deal with part of the child and a possible problem. For instance, vision therapy deals with the eyes, and if the student indeed does have an eye issue that is interfering with learning, then vision therapy can do wonders. But what if that student also has auditory problems? Or hand/eye coordination problems? Or is right brain dominant and is daydreaming constantly? Try to imagine what it would be like if you had to take your child to a vision therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and learning center, all just to meet the educational needs of your child. The time alone would be overwhelming, not to mention the expense.
  8. 8. “I stood up to read in front of the class…and the kids just laughed at me.” I often get students who are suffering terribly at school, like a nightmare that just won’t end. Day after long, lonely day they sit in school, are tormented by their peers and made to feel dumb and inferior by teachers and principals, they very people who are supposed to be protecting them. By the time kids come to me, they are usually in rough shape. They are emotionally beat up from school and have zero self-esteem and confidence. I set out on a journey with these kids, and the first step is to make them a partner. I give them a choice, control over their situation. I give them tools to use, and they take them greedily, like hungry caterpillars chewing leaves. Because this is the truth. Kids want to do well. They want to please. They sometimes just don’t know how to do it. After the kids feel safe, they know they won’t be humiliated or tormented. Once they know they can make mistakes and the world won’t end, it’s time for a diagnosis. I really need to know what I need to do to help these guys.
  9. 9. Step 1 Diagnose The first formal step I take with these kids is to diagnose their learning systems to find out why learning isn’t happening as it should be. I check for the following information: • Brain dominance (left or right brain) • Dominant eye, hand, and foot • Visual memory • Auditory skills • Kinesthetic or tactile skills • Eye/hand coordination • Fine motor skills • Verbal skills I get a clear picture of the child as a whole after this diagnostic testing session. I know where to start working and which area needs the most work. It’s really very simple. This is the most common picture of a child or student that I get: • Right brain dominant • Poor visual, auditory, and kinesthetic skills • Extremely poor visual memory abilities • Tendencies toward dyslexia (many reversals) • High verbal skills • Above grade level vocabulary I call this a “syndrome” because I see it so often. I have tested and worked with so many kids with this “syndrome” that I think I could do it with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. But, keep this in mind. This is indeed a common “syndrome”, and your child may or may not have all of the symptoms of this “syndrome”, but by using the techniques of the Universal Learning System, every student
  10. 10. has shown tremendous improvement academically, to the point where learning becomes independent. Most likely, your child has some or more of these symptoms that are interfering with learning and by taking each learning system and strengthening it, exercising it daily like an athlete preparing for a marathon, you, too, can walk your child through the confusing learning maze and end up at the finish line: • Honor Roll • Reading, Math, and Spelling grades that make you proud • A child who wants to go to school • A child with self –confidence • An end to homework battles • More time for family activities You don’t need to pay a fortune to find out what is preventing your child from succeeding in school. The diagnostic test forms are available for parents to use with their own children at home, saving hundreds and thousands of dollars for a diagnosis that gives you a blueprint on how to go about correcting any learning issues that exist. Get our Free Learning Difference Assessment
  11. 11. Step 2 The Brain Why do people get so nervous and afraid when the brain is mentioned? After all, everybody has one! Perhaps it’s the Frankenstein movies or other science fiction images that we all have been exposed to. Or maybe it’s just too scary to think about all of that grey matter and the things that go in the brain. But, never forget that learning takes place in the brain and in order to fix any learning issues the brain must be dealt with. Teachers and schools go straight to academics like a cannon ball out of control. The thought is that repetition will work. But if that is true, they why aren’t kids reading after years of phonics lessons? Because their brains aren’t primed to learn to read in a phonics manner. A kid with learning problems can read and reread the something 100 times, but the next day it will seem like new information. And how about teaching math facts? Why don’t these kids have their math facts memorized even though you’ve done flash cards with them every day for a year? Because the brain needs taught how to learn in a left-brain manner if the student is right-brain dominant! Ninety-five percent of what we know about the physiological workings of the human brain have been discovered in the last fifteen years. There are some basic findings about the brain that pertain to learning and correcting learning problems. First, the brain is made of many parts that need to work together as a whole to function properly. Some of these parts are connected at birth, but many parts need to be “wired” together after birth. Next, the brain as a whole can be integrated by certain physical movements which synchronize the brain to work as a whole. Finally, if all of the
  12. 12. parts of the brain are working together as a whole unit, then learning will be efficient. The human brain is organized in three different ways: bottom to top, back to front, and side to side. If a child’s brain is not “wired” correctly from the bottom to top, then he may have hands that are not coordinated with his feet or eyes, causing problems with writing, self- expression, or coordination. The following diagram will show bottom to top brain organization. It is evident that emotions can play an integral part in the format of bottom to top organization. This occurs when a student seems to “shut down” due to stress or fear that occurs in the classroom. At this point the classic Fight or Flight Response will kick in and the student stays locked in the emotional part of the brain. Temper problems can occur along with a low self-esteem and behavioral problems. School should be a place to learn and succeed, but unfortunately, many students are made to feel stupid, inferior, or worse, causing school to be a place of terror. This in itself does not create an ideal learning environment, especially knowing what we do about the brain and how it works. Diagnosis is only the beginning of the journey of correcting a learning problem. After a picture of the child is formed, a recipe you might say, the next step is to start with brain retraining activities. I always use these brain activities, no matter what the recipe is. This has never failed me. If there is any learning problem or even a suggestion of one, then the brain needs to be retrained for learning success. This is a real simple process, and it only takes a weekly session of about 15 minutes. If you can follow a picture with minimal instructions, you can do this activity, even though it sounds scary or scientific. It is scientific. It isn’t scary. And it makes sense to deal with the brain as well as the body. Think about it. Aren’t they both connected to each other? It’s as if teachers and other professionals only want to deal with the outcome of the brain and not the actual brain itself.
  13. 13. But how else are you supposed to fix the problem? Once a week. That’s all it takes to retrain the brain. Simple exercises and sequential steps to make the brain balanced.
  14. 14. Step 3 The Visual System If ever there was anything that could go wrong with a learning system, it would happen in the visual system. 80 percent of what we take in is through the eyes. It is our primary sense. And, did you know that there are muscles in your eyes? Sometimes these muscles are weak and the balance of the eyes is off. Perhaps the eyes are turning in too far or out too far, or the vertical alignment is off. This makes school work extremely difficult. After all, what do you need in order to read, write, and do math? Sight, of course. Sometimes one of the eyes will be shut down by the brain. This causes one eye to in essence go blind for a while. This comes and goes throughout the day. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to do school work while one of your eyes is doing this, especially if it is your right eye, which is the eye you lead with while you are reading? Often, the eyes have a difficult time going from a far plane of vision to a close plane, such as copying from the board (far away) to a paper (close up). Or, both eyes may not be working as a team and move smoothly across a page (tracking). There are many other things that can go wrong with your vision. Many parents will comment that they had their kid’s eyes tested and that they don’t need glasses. This has nothing to do with the need for glasses and everything to do with poor or weak eye muscles and performance of these eyes. The eye muscles can be strengthened through exercises just as the leg muscles can. Soon they are working like a well oiled engine.
  15. 15. Step 4 Visual Memory Can you make a picture in your mind of something, say, a pink elephant? Can you hold that image there? Most likely you can. But I have found visual memory to be extremely weak in the students I work with. I feel that it is due to our fast paced society. We grew up in a time where we had to visualize things – after all there wasn’t the internet and there were only a few channels on the television. It is my belief that weak visual memory skills are the reason for most of the learning problems with kids. Holding a picture in your mind is vital to reading, writing, math, and spelling success. Do you work with your child every week to memorize a spelling list, and your child does well on the test? Yet, when you look at his writing, do you notice that the same words he memorized last week are misspelled? Do you work and work on math facts memorization? Yet nothing seems to make these facts “stick” into your kid’s brain? Do you have a child who writes without putting in capitals, periods, or commas, yet when you ask him what is missing he will tell you the correct answer? Does your child read large words correctly but little words like if, and, or but are misread time and again? There is such an easy fix for poor visual memory skills. It’s really just a daily game that strengthens the mind to hold images for longer periods of time. Holding up pictures of shapes, letters, and numbers for a few seconds and then having the student draw these from memory helps dramatically.
  16. 16. After regular visual memory sessions, students always improve their skills in reading, writing, math, and spelling. It’s such a simple fix, yet people overlook it time and again. Step 4 The Auditory System Have you ever given your child directions, say to pick up your coat, bring me the newspaper, and let the dog outside? And your child sets out to pick up his coat but gets distracted along the way, and instead of doing any of the directions you gave him, he’s staring at a caterpillar in the window sill? Do you think that your child just isn’t listening or paying enough attention? When my son was little, he used to say, “You’re giving me too many demandments!” We would laugh, not knowing that he was suffering from an auditory processing disorder. There aren’t any muscles in the ears, but auditory problems are real. Hearing involves a lot more than acknowledging sounds and registering these sounds. Hearing is a process, and it involves the ability to attend to various sounds, to remember them, to be aware of the direction from which the sound originates, to repeat the sound, to recall sounds, to be aware of sounds in the environment, to be aware of rhythmic patterns, to isolate a sound from a variety of different sounds, to distinguish a sound from background noises, to draw meaning from verbal stimuli, to fuse the sounds coming into two ears into one unified sound, and to identify a sound in the initial, middle, and ending position of a word. Wow! Could a lot go wrong, or what? I get overwhelmed just looking at this list.
  17. 17. To top it all off, the auditory channel is the primary mode of learning for early childhood. If something goes wrong at this stage, then something will stay wrong until there is an intervention. And, the auditory channel is the main channel that modern schools cater to. Even though educators are aware that students all learn in a different manner, they still rely on verbal lecture as the main method of educating children. If your child is weak in auditory skills, a day at school can seem like a lifetime. Your child may be misdiagnosed as having a learning problem or his grades won’t reflect his true intelligence if he suffers from an auditory problem and is forced to learn from the lecture model. Also, I find a direct relationship between auditory stimuli and focusing abilities. Auditory stimuli place the most significant demands on attention and focusing, since they are temporally ordered. Students diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Syndrome) often show huge improvements in focusing abilities when auditory training is received. Reading abilities also improve once the student is able to correctly process the auditory stimuli necessary for hearing sounds and sound segments, the necessary components of reading success. Some children are lacking in a “filter”. This is the filter we have and need to tune out unnecessary background noises. These kids might hear another student’s pencil as it moves across a page or they might hear a computer that is quietly churning away. And don’t forget about fluorescent lighting, which is the predominant choice of lighting in American schools. Those long bulbs make the tiniest of noise all day long. To a kid without a proper “filter”, it is terribly difficult to focus on anything. Add in the normal classroom noises, and these kids become agitated or just space out in order to function without losing their minds. By using basic auditory strengthening exercises, students can overcome these problems. The auditory system is of great importance, and if you have a child or student who listens but doesn’t “hear”, then auditory strengthening activities can do wonders.
  18. 18. Step 5 The Kinesthetic (Tactile or Hands On) System What happened to penmanship? Are all of the kids in America destined to be doctors? Have you made excuses for your child’s penmanship? Do you think that nice handwriting is just for the prissy little girl who sits in the front row of the class with her hand raised and who has straight A’s? This is the real story. Many kids can’t write these days. It’s a laborious process for these kids. Some kids will do almost anything to avoid writing, even if it means getting in trouble, such as missing a recess. How can this be? What has happened to cause this? Well, many things have happened. When teachers started accepting invented spellings, handwriting was put on the back burner. With the acceptance of Whole Language Learning, handwriting became unimportant. With the addition of increased standards, teachers just don’t have time to teach handwriting. The loss of “sandbox” kindergartens has forced our children to use fine motor skills before gross motor development can take place. And with this, we have lost so much. Since handwriting is not stressed, since there isn’t time to teach cursive anymore, since cursive isn’t forced at a certain age, our kids
  19. 19. just can’t write. Oh, they have the ideas in their brains, but when it comes time for their hands to keep up with their brains, there just isn’t any coordination of information. The student gives up. The writing is illegible. The teacher places a failing mark on it. The parents are distraught. And to top it all off, problems in this area are increasing. In any given classroom across America you will find up to 30 % of the students who have problems writing, holding a pencil, cutting, and doing school work in general. This is the bottom line. These kids have brains that think quickly. But, for some reason, their hands can’t keep up with their brains. Their work is sloppy, difficult to read. Art projects are messy. Handwriting is illegible. And make any excuse you want, these kids are miserable. Because they are so intelligent and they know they just can’t get their ideas onto paper. And they watch other children with nicer handwriting get better grades, even though those children’s ideas and answers may not be as good as their own. And, even in other subjects, such as math, their columns are misaligned, and their answers are incorrect, mostly because of the mess they made on their papers, and not because they didn’t know the actual process. Give these kids a verbal assignment, and they will soar. Give them a written assignment, and they will fail. So, how do you go about correcting something of this magnitude? Buy cursive books and have them practice? Although that is a start, it isn’t a solution. I have worked with many children who have eye/hand coordination problems who have managed to work through several cursive workbooks, and their handwriting is still terrible.
  20. 20. Once, again, you must go to the source of the problem. You must do brain and body exercises and activities that will strengthen this learning system. There are numerous activities that children love to do that strengthen eye/hand coordination and fine motor skills. These activities should not be reserved for specialists and therapists to use at great cost to the parent. They should and are available for parents to use at home. You may never have a student with beautiful handwriting. But what you will have is a student who can make his hand keep up with his brain. A student who isn’t miserable all day because the rest of the class is working at a faster pace. A student who can keep up, who can write and perform school tasks without problems. Forgetting about handwriting, writing, eye/hand coordination skills, and fine motor skills won’t make the problem go away. Also, the student is not going to magically outgrow this issue. As the years go by, the student falls further and further behind, causing great distress to all involved.
  21. 21. Tying It All Together OK, you’ve learned the importance of diagnosing your child’s strengths and weakness, to find out if any possible learning problems exist. You discovered the importance of a plan to help strengthen each of the systems that may be weak or just not working properly. You’ve learned about the brain, and how it is difficult for a right-brain dominant student to function in a left- brain dominant classroom. Also, you found out about the three major systems of learning - the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, as well as the importance of visual memory. Now, what do you do? How do you tie all of this information together? How do you bring it to your child easily without distress? If you are like most parents, you feel that you need a professional to take charge of this situation, be it a teacher, administrator, or a private learning specialist. Perhaps if you just hire a tutor then everything will fall into place. I often get calls from parents wanting to know if I know of someone near them who works with children using my methods. To be honest, I really don’t. But I do know that I also get calls from people living near me who are willing to pay me money to work with their children. Often this is after they have spent a large amount of money on private tutors. Or big
  22. 22. name learning centers. And, always they say the same thing. It didn’t help. The Sensory Learning System works. That’s all I know. Time and again, students who were failing in school and in life find success in both areas. Students who were given up on, who were destined for failure have found a new lease on life. Their spirits soar as they succeed. By dealing with the child as a whole, learning success is met. Problems are corrected. It’s as simple as that. 6 simple steps that anyone can take. To learn more and get started on an in depth sensory learning system please go to www.learning-aids.com