Education needs practice and good coaches too.

I TRY and TRY, but I just DON’T get it…

Sweat was dripping down his face, as he worked on getting the rickety little boat out of the dock. But, it wasn’t moving. The man who let us take the fishing boat out began to laugh with the realization that the anchor was still in place. We weren’t going anywhere until it was released.

We had never taken a rowboat out on water and the motion was very different from a kayak. Getting the paddles to move at the same fluid pace was far more difficult than it looked. Others made it look so easy, why was it so hard?

Then we realized that it was something that we had to practice and to learn. It was a new motion, a new challenge, and it would take time to develop. As parents and educators we often expect our kids or students to get it and get on with their education without realizing the steps involved to get to that place of understanding or skill. The brain needs to be trained. It is an amazing organ that continues to grow as you build more connections and try new things.  As you practice, observe and try new things, your brain is expanding and being challenged.

When a child struggles in school, they often wonder why it is so hard for them and not for others? The brain develops at different rates and needs to be trained. Here at the Therapeutic Literacy Center we work on retraining the brain and creating new pathways that will allow your child to develop auditory, visual, and even attention skills that they may not have.

The amazing thing about our brain is that it changes and can be retrained.  Albert Einstein’s quote “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think” reveals the importance of understanding that we have a brilliant mind that can be trained. In schools, the focus is on content and academic learning, and basic academic skills and not on developing skills in executive function, processing, or core learning. We work to figure out what is going on behind the scenes and how we can make it better.

If your child feels like they are struggling in school and can’t keep up with the other kids, it is something that we can work on and improve. Building confidence toward their education and training the brain to process quicker is something that we do here. Our programs are specifically tailored to meet your child where he/she is at and allow them to grow.

Call or contact us today to talk about your child’s needs and how we can help them overcome the challenges they are facing!

No matter how hard you work, you still need good coaching

Dyslexia diagnosis

Term “Dyslexia” Not Used In Schools Per Federal Guideline Adopted by Florida

Nov 05, 2013

Panama City- Dyslexia makes it very difficult for children to read, write, and spell. According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s the most common learning disability in our country, so it might surprise you to learn that Florida Public Schools don’t use the term at all.

Just a few months ago 8-year-old Jakob Nelson couldn’t identify letters or numbers. “His problem was so huge he could not take pictures and keep them in his head of letters and numbers,” said Paula Nelson, Jakob’s mom. Now he’s reading. But the journey to get here hasn’t been easy.Why won't schools use the term dyslexia?

“After his Pre-K experience 13 people were ready to put him on a different track rather than regular ed. We stopped it and said not yet, we have much more to offer him and research before that happens. We found someone to test him and identify his major problem being dyslexia with a normal IQ,” said Paula.

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook that healthcare professionals use to diagnose patients, dropped the term dyslexia when they published a revised edition in May. Now it includes the same title school districts use, “Specific Learning Disorder with Reading Impairment.” Dyslexia is noted as an alternative term, but does not have it’s own heading. “We never use that word in the school system,” said Bay District School Psychologist Dr. Mimi Bozarth. “Dyslexia is a medical term, a medical diagnosis. In the school system we use educational categories. The child has the same problem, we call it something different,” she explained.

The state says the terms are interchangeable. The Nelson family disagrees. Failing to recognize or regard a dyslexia diagnosis has dire consequences for the child’s future.  “Specific testing and intervention therefore is not complete and not individualized at times for those students,” said Paula. “C’s are the goal standard. If the child is making at least C’s then the teacher, and we have excellent teachers in the district, we’d most likely accommodate that child’s needs but that child would not qualify for an individualized education plan,” said Dr. Bozarth.

The Nelson’s would like to see the district use different curriculum to address a dyslexia diagnosis specifically and are trying to rally other parents for change. “It’s just like the parents of kids with autism. That is how they made a breakthrough and had a difference made for specialized intervention for their children,” said Paula.

In the meantime, they’ve hired a retired teacher to teach Jakob at home. They hope to one day return him to a normal classroom.

If you think your child might be dyslexic there are many resources on the web to help identify symptoms and how to address them, we’ve created a list for you.

And if you think your child might have a learning disability, you can request they be evaluated by the district. After they complete the response to intervention process, if the child is eligible, an individual educational plan will be developed.


Embracing Dyslexia: Cornell Amerson’s Inspiring Story

Is your child struggling in school? Are you concerned about their success? A recent interview with Cornell Amerson by Educating Dyslexia has shed some light on the struggles that kids go through when they have a learning disability. He addresses his own personal struggles and sheds light on the issue. Being able to identify a child’s struggles early on can help to prevent a child from losing confidence and self-esteem. Most children with a learning difficulty will begin to perceive themselves as incapable and different from the other kids in the class. This can lead to low levels of self-esteem and behaviors that appear to be uninterested or uncooperative in the classroom.

Cornell Amerson is the author of “The Janitor’s Secret“, a fictional novel that provides insight into the struggles of having a learning disability. Many people do not understand the difficulties a child has in a classroom when they have dyslexia. Being able to understand how it affects a child’s confidence and beliefs is so important. Cornell is a great example of a man who has dyslexia and who reveals these challenges.

Amerson’s interview has two parts. The first part focuses on his difficulties in school and as an adult with dyslexia. It is a fascinating story that truly demonstrates the emotional, social and intellectual issues that arise when a child does not understand his/her challenges. He fell through the cracks and spent many years not understanding why he was unsuccessful. Identifying the challenges early on and seeking support and help is so beneficial for a child’s success.

The second part demonstrates his artistic talents. He shows work that he did when he was younger and his amazing abilities. While he failed the traditional school system, his abilities and talents reveal his true intellectual ability. His story is inspiring in that it reveals his resilience to continue to seek education even when the system failed him. The work that we do here focuses on building confidence and training kids so that they can be successful in a classroom environment.

Understanding the struggles behind dyslexia will help you to deal with the challenges that you or your child face. At TLC we strive to help you and your child overcome any challenges that you may face. It is common, and you have support!

Learning Style Difference vs Learning Difficulty

The overarching role of any teacher and parent is to help their children learn how to be life-long learners. But what if a child has trouble learning? Students in grades K-3 now are learning in areas where information and technologies are changing every month.  If they are having difficulty mastering ‘the basics’ and seem unable to use these building blocks to move forward, they’re at risk for developing a low self-esteem early on. Later in life they may be unable to effectively train in a career of their choosing.

Before making an assumption that a child has a learning disability it’s important to make the distinction between a different learning style and a learning difficulty.  Individuals each experience the world in a unique way due to their different perception abilities. Individuals each process or act on information in unique ways due to their different ordering abilities. Our perception and ordering abilities can be considered what determines our learning style.

The Gregorc model is a widely used method to delineate learning style. Developed by Anthony F. Gregorc and Kathleen A. Butler, it is based upon the abilities of perception and ordering. Specifically, there are two generalized perceptual qualities: concrete and abstract, and there are two generalized ordering qualities: sequential and random.

  • Gregorc Model of Learning StylesConcrete: Information acquired directly through the senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. The concrete ability is associated with the obvious, the “here and now” as opposed to hidden meanings or interpretative relationships.
  • Abstract: The ability to visualize, to conceive ideas, to understand and contemplate that which you cannot actually experience through the senses. Abstract quality is associated with intuition and imagination; beyond the obvious.
  • Sequential: Information is organized in a linear, step-by-step manner. This would mean following a logical train of thought, having a plan and following it rather than acting on impulse.
  • Random: Information tends to be organized by chunks, in no particular order. This may mean skipping steps, starting something in the middle or working backwards from the end, acting on intuition and impulse rather than a specific plan.

It’s accepted that people are capable of both concrete and abstract perceptions, as well as both types of information organization and execution (sequential and random/impulsive).  However, most people have a natural preference for one over the other and this imparts to them a particular style of learning and communicating.  This also means that we do not all benefit in the same way from a particular type of instructional approach.

Although no one is a “pure” style it’s important to keep in mind that there may be very strong preferences or biases. In fact, the bias may be so strong that one is unable to effectively compensate and learn important information simply because it is presented in an inaccessible style. In that situation, one can be considered to have a learning difficulty or learning disability.

Children with severe learning disabilities often receive special education services and additional resources in our schools. However, there are many students with less noticeable difficulties that seem to “fall through the cracks.” Parents may already have a gut feeling that that their child is working ‘too hard’, and that there may be some kind of learning problem but the results of their hard work aren’t so far out of range as to raise a red flag with teachers.

Many students with mild learning disabilities have the intelligence and determination to put in the extra time and effort necessary to make it through school and maintain passing grades in the process. But don’t they deserve to have a more enjoyable and productive educational experience?  The good news is that students with attention challenges and learning disabilities, including dyslexia, can learn and can become successful students if their needs are met early on.

If you suspect your child may have a learning disability, get in touch with a professional who can formally assess their existing skills and where deficits are presenting real challenges for your child in the classroom and beyond.

Therapeutic Literacy Center in Solana Beach offers assessments for learning disabilities as well as programs and exercises for developing underlying “mental tools” needed for success.