SLLOOOWWWW LEARNING, LD-5

17 12 2007

Some educationists speak of slow learners as those not specifically diagnosed with a learning difficulty but yet who are below their grade level in studies. Others use this term to mean children with lower than normal IQs but who would not be considered retarded.slow-l-brain-imaging1.jpeg

Both of these definitions are wrong. There are a very wide variety of causes for slow learning, not all of which are understood. Often it has absolutely nothing to do with IQ at all. In fact those with lower than normal IQs should not be called “slow learners” for not only will they be slow but in absolute terms they will never become age normative – that’s not slowness. Those who are just a bit slower will eventually catch up and will even sometimes go on to become exceptional.

In my experience, slow learners may have any combination of identifiable dysfunctionalities like ADD, hyperactivity, dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyspraxia, and sometimes none. But these disadvantages will be partial in effect and not severe enough to be uncompensatable. Very often, we have found that slow learners also have problems with visual-motor coordination. There therefore may be issues in delayed development of visual motor ability and there may be accompanying dyspraxia. While slow learners will lag behind their classmates, they will somewhat manage to keep up. Typically they will do better orally than in written testing and simple things like completing classwork or homework in time may be a constant headache for both parent and teacher- but this is to be expected if your child is slow!

Therapy in self organisation is very important. Building up the child’s self-confidence is also very important. Identify the child’s strengths and use these to bolster their confidence. Teachers should work harder at encouraging and stifle the urge to criticise and particularly should be careful about comparing one child’s performance or work with another’s. At the same time demand and expect performance. Do not let the child be satisfied with less than their best effort. You may find at one stage that there will be a sudden improvement in handwriting neatness and speed or perhaps in an ability to do sums, and this is a strong sign that the right parts of the brain are being stimulated to catch up and they mostly will then do so quite quickly.slow-l-tortoisehare-2.jpg

Orally work with the child one-on-one whenever possible doing mental sums, or any kind of mental gymnastics, including solving puzzles, conundrums, and having fun with expressions and word plays will prove to be very helpful. At the same time make the child work on basics like arithmetic and handwriting on a daily basis.

Again encourage improvement without being too critical but don’t let the child dodge doing the basic amount of work. Daily work on keeping their workspace organised as well as getting them to maintain a daily routine in all things is very important. You will see change happen and sometimes it will happen quite dramatically. Till then a consistent effort will be needed to prepare your child to adequately compensate for whatever part of the mind is temporarily hanging back.

As we have discussed earlier, diet is very important. Get a professional evaluation done as soon as possible and then annually, and do discuss your child’s progress and difficulties with teachers and with your pediatrician. Religiously keep a journal. If the school is not handling your child properly be prepared to shift elsewhere. Do not compromise on the proper learning environment, for once your child feels put down you may never see anything but defeat.

Finally, find a support group. Slow learning is only recently being recognised as something different, so the closest fit will be a support group for ADD/ADHD kids some of whom may also be dyslexic or have other problems.slow-l-brainl_normalmovie_colorbar.gif

Tackling any learning disability or developmental delay is a bit like setting out on a marathon or trying to climb a tall mountain. It won’t be over quickly. Slowly and steadily and with determination and encouragement from fellow travelers, you will succeed in the end. Remember that your child is unique. No formulaic approach may work, but with your love and your commitment, your child will be best able to reach all of their own unique potential as a uniquely valuable human being – and make you proud of how much they have and will achieve.
Digg!





NUTRITION FOR KIDS WITH LD

22 04 2007

veggies.jpg

Every aspect of the life of a child with learning or developmental disorders has to be studied and modified in order to give the child the best chance of achieving his/her true potential.

Attention should particularly be paid to the following key areas:

1. Play (guided, therapeutic play).

2. Adequate sleep and rest.foodpyramid-2.jpg

3. Physical development.

4. Therapy.

5. Nutrition.

6. Lots and lots of affirmative affection and love.

7. Discipline – for an ordered life.

I would like to just discuss a few pointers on diet. We have found that a change in diet makes a huge difference to attention spans and mental acuity as well as helping to correct deficits in physical growth and development.

A lot of parents are aware of the ‘food pyramid’ and have implemented those suggetions. Children with LD and developmental disorders require even more care as the diet not only has immediate effects on behavior but is also critical for normalising the functioning and development of the brain and nervous system.

The basics af a good LD diet are: Adequate calories and nutrients + a shift in the composition of the diet so that 40% is protein, 35% fat, and 25% complex carbohydrates.

Quantity is not as important as quality but do see that your child gets just enough calories.

Add more fried things – side dishes and snacks.

Mix the oils used in food preparation. Too often adults’ fears of too much cholesterol means that families stick to one safe oil, say sunflower oil. There’s nothing wrong with sunflower oil, but for kids other oils can help with the development of their nervous systems. Add oils like Olive, Sessame, Safflower, Rice Bran, and Corn oil, and you can also happily let the children have other dairy fat rich things like cheese and butter. Fish oil (cod liver oil) and other omega 3, omega 6 supplements we have found to be very helpful.

Use more herbs and spices in your cooking. Many exotic ingredients like mustard seeds, black pepper, cardomom, cloves, nutmeg, aniseed, sessame seed, corriander seeds and leaves, and mint are very good because they contain essential oils that are useful for the body. A few spices, especially red chilli powder (caprica) and turmeric we have found to be generally unhelpful. Nuts are an excellent source of essential oils – almonds, cashew nuts and macadamias are especially enriching.

Vegetables and fruits should be present in every meal. Let the kids have their favourites in any quantity but do see that the yellow vegetables are represented (e.g. carrots, pumpkin). Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage are very good but some creativity may be required to get the children to eat enough of them.

Carbs should be complex, especially for kids with ADD/ADHD. Honey, molasses, treacle, pure maple syrup, and date syrup, are very good sweeteners. Stay away from sugar (sucrose) and glucose as much as possible. Fruits of all types are good. Dark chocolate is good as are homemade icecream and fruit cocktail. Fruit preserves that have no stabilizers or artificial preservatives are fine. In fact it is best to stay away from anything with artificial stabilizers, food colorings and preservatives as many of these have effects on mood and can worsen hyperactivity. Bread should best be whole grain, but a number of children are sensitive to gluten so check that out and if necessary try a gluten excluded diet for at least a week to see whether it helps.

Don’t store anything in the fridge, if at all possible – FRESH IS BEST!

Changes in diet will result in both immediate and slower changes, and if you are a sensible parent you will pay close attention to this very important aspect of your child’s life. make sure to keep track of dietary changes or anything ‘new’ that your child eats in your journal.

Anyone interested in the Challenge ‘eggetarian’ LD diet (very Indian) can mail me and I will send you a copy. There is no ONE CORRECT diet that will work with all developmentally challenged kids, so keep working on it and learning as you go!

Digg!





LD3 – Dyspraxia

15 04 2007

spilled mikDyspraxia is again a very common learning disorder.

One can think of dyspraxia as being in a disordered state of mind. Disorganisation can become the hallmark of a child’s life. Common tasks cause confusion. There is no plan put into action to complete a job. Indeed, dyspraxia is more than a learning disorder, it is a life disorder!

For students, the common signs are messy workplaces, things going ‘missing’ very often and when a series of actions are called for an inability to repeat a sequence of actions in the same way. Simple everyday activities like brushing one’s teeth can prove problematic. If you think about it, what many of us do almost without a second thought actually involves a number of separate steps. We find and pick up a toothbrush, then find and open a tube of toothpaste, then put just the right amount of paste onto the bristles of the brush, cap the paste and put it back in its proper place. We then brush our teeth and usually that too in some sort of ordered sequence to ensure that each tooth has been cleaned, front and back. Then wash the paste out of our mouth, find a towel and dry up. The brush has to be washed and brush and towel returned to where they should be.

The student with dyspraxia will often have forgotten books, pen, diary etc. Typically the disorganisation will be visible on the work surface. Things will be scattered around. Something once used will not be put back from where it was taken. Activities like searching or finding will often end in failure.

I think you can see the devastating effects that dyspraxia can have on a chid’s life, self-esteem and personality development.  Typically, such children will be thought of as  ‘unable to do the simplest thing properly’. Without intending to, they will be considered naughty, stubborn, lazy, messy, unreliable, careless, forgetful and a lot of other unfavourable things.

Dyspraxia can be very frustrating for parents to deal with for it is not limited to school or study but will affect every area of a child’s life.messy desk toon

Dyspraxia again is a developmental disorder and one that can occur alone or along with dyslexia, dysgraphia and/or ADHD. Dyspraxia can and should be treated!

Most chidren will show improvement with therapy. For a few kids, some degree of difficulty will be with them throughout their lives. Many will be able to compensate for their disorder to such an extent that it may become unnoticeable.

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LD1 – Dyslexia

30 03 2007

There are many, many things that can disturb a child’s ability to learn. The commonest cause of learning disorders is improper development but genetics is also thought to play some roll…LD1

Today, I want to highlight reading difficulties or dyslexia as a common and troubling disorder.

Signs can be detected from about 3 years of age onwards as children fall behind their peers in reading. Commonly one will encounter any or all of the following:

  • May have poor reading ability or poor comprehension
  • May often misread information
  • May have problems with syntax or grammar
  • May confuse similar letters or numbers, reverse them, or confuse their order
  • May have difficulty reading addresses, small print and/or columns

The amount of disability and its causes will have to be determined by experts for each child. Various standardised tests are available to help with the diagnosis. Depending on the cause, many childrens’ disability can be lessened or even sometimes eliminated. Early detection and treatment are keys to success but our experience at Challenge is also that it is better late than never!

Almost every town now has professional help available for affected children. To ignore a child’s difficulties will simply consign them to a life far below their true potential. If you have questions please do feel free to contact me.

We will soon do short highlights on each of the following – Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism and Aspergers.





Suffer the Children II

18 10 2006

Come Out with Me

There’s sun on the river and sun on the hill . . .

You can hear the sea if you stand quite still!
There’s eight new puppies at Roundabout Farm-
And I saw an old sailor with only one arm!
But everyone says, “Run along!” (Run along, run along!)
All of them say, “Run along! I’m busy as can be.”
Every one says, “Run along, There’s a little darling!”
If I’m a little darling, why don’t they run with me?

There’s wind on the river and wind on the hill . . .
There’s a dark dead water-wheel under the mill!
I saw a fly which had just been drowned-
And I know where a rabbit goes into the ground!
But everyone says, “Run along!”(Run along, run along!)
All of them say, “Yes, dear,” and never notice me.
Every one says, “Run along,There’s a little darling!”
If I’m a little darling, why won’t they come and see?
Alan Alexander Milne


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