Learning disabilities Irvine, CA
The many faces of learning challenges.
Whats Really Going on When Kids with Average (or Above) IQs Struggle in School and Drive Their Teachers and Parents Crazy?
Regular kids, with average to above average intelligence are sitting in class, day after day, frustrated and misunderstood by their teachers, parents, classmates, and even themselves.
They want to do well in school. They know they should be able to. But somehow, they just cant seem to do it.
Why does it take them so long to finish their work?
Why do they have hours more homework than other kids in their class?
Are they just stupid? Must be, since everyone else seems to be able to do the work more easily.
Surprisingly, these kids exist in every classroom in every school. They might be good at hiding it, but they are suffering nevertheless. Somehow, no matter how good they are at other things, reading or math, or some other aspect of school just isnt working out for them as well as it should.
The 4 Groups of Learning Skills
Easy learning is built upon a continuum of neurodevelopmental learning skills that start with reflexes in utero and continue developing to the highest levels of thinking. We think of that continuum in four basic levels:
Developmental or Core Learning Skills – Learning, or information processing, is actually stimulated by movement. It begins in utero with movements triggered by reflexes. When babies are born, these reflexes begin to go away, or become integrated, as higher levels of thinking begin to take over. Integration happens through trial and error movements and gradually intentional movement. Physical movement and exploration is critical to developing visual skills and becoming internally organized.
People often think of organization in terms of planning and organizing time, projects and materials, but internal organization is needed in order to sit in a chair or walk across a room without bumping into things.
Processing Skills – Processing skills is the second level in the learning skills continuum. These include such skills as memory, attention, visual processing (how we think about information that we can see or imagine), auditory processing (how we think about information that we hear, such as the sounds in words or the tone of voice our friend is using), language processing, and processing speed ( how quickly we can think about and respond to information).
Challenges in any of these areas will cause the learner to have to work longer and harder than they should.
Executive Function Skills – Executive function is like the brains CEO. This is the part of the brain that guides our behavior and attention, that helps us plan and reason and solve problems. Students are notorious for putting long term projects off to the last minute. But the bottom line is it takes a number of sophisticated executive function skills to plan out and execute a project.
If a student looks lazy, unmotivated, or disorganized, the real culprit may weak executive function skills.
Academic Skills or higher learning skills – The highest level on the continuum is academic and higher learning skills. Success in this arena depends upon a solid base of skills in the levels below. People of all ages learn how to compensate for their challenges, but compensating is hard and inefficient. The supporting skills must be in place in order to learn new information easily.
Learning problems are very broad. They look different on different kids, but the thing they have in common is this:
Something is breaking down in their processing of information.
Learning is all about processing incoming information – whether its a toddler picking up a cracker and finding out that it breaks in his hand or a 12th grader doing calculus.
When students that you know are struggling in school, when you are tempted to write it off as lazy, or attention, or immaturity, take a closer look. There are dozens of skills that may not all be working together to make learning easy.
The Good News: All those skills can be taught, built, corrected. There is REAL hope for all those kids.