By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

God is so good—and so amazing! In Jeremiah 30:17, He says, “I will restore your health and heal you of all your wounds.” He is vitally interested in our health and, more importantly, in our children’s health and abilities. He has made many provisions for us.
 
When I was a Special Education teacher, working in the pull-out Resource Room in the public schools, I learned about God’s goodness. I experienced how much my students were struggling with their disabilities: reading reversals, severe auditory processing problems that caused phonics rules not to stick, little writing ability, and difficulty with comprehension. I asked God to show me what to do for these wonderful students. These hard-working students had been in special education pull-out classes for years, and had terrific parents and good teachers, but had made very little progress in their skills over the years.


God answered my prayers in a very interesting and dynamic way: I soon received a postcard from another Special Education teacher, Paul Dennison, Ph.D. He was offering workshops to show his fellow special education teachers a method he was using that was helping relieve his student’s learning disabilities. He used specific midline therapy that could easily be incorporated in the classroom setting, right along with their daily lessons. I was thrilled and began saving my money to attend some of these workshops (a thousand dollars at that time).



God’s Brain Efficiency
In those workshops, I learned so much about how the brain works when learning new material.


The Brain is designed to learn new things and to store the old without effort. (Remember that little song about friends? “Make new friends but keep the old…one is silver and the other gold”. That is how the brain works.)

Have you ever stopped and thought, “I wonder if I brushed my teeth this morning?” You don’t even remember doing it. Why? Because it was what we call an “unconscious” movement. You didn’t have to “think” about it, because it was automatic. That is how “God’s Efficient Brain System” works. When we learn something new, we use our “thinking brain” to concentrate on the task. After a little while, it crosses the midline of the brain and is transferred to the brain’s storage unit, the “automatic” brain hemisphere, for easy access. The same action occurs when we learn to ride a bike or drive a car. At first, we concentrate on it (the left brain’s responsibility), and then it becomes automatic (the right brain’s responsibility). 


Disconnections
How did this affect my students’ learning difficulties? I realized that all the processes of learning, like tracking the eyes from left to right while reading, had not transferred to their “automatic” brain hemisphere. They were still having to use energy to “think” about their eye movements. They often looked at a “b” and had to decide (think about) if the letter they were looking at was a “d” instead. I discovered that learning in general, was not transferring to their automatic hemisphere, and thus often seemed to be “new information” every day. How could we make more connections, so that the learning could be stored in the long-term memory storage unit?

In the workshops, I attended those many years ago (20 years), I learned that God had set up the brain so that we could use specific movements that crossed the midline of the body to repair the disconnections and restore the connections in my students. This was a huge break-through in thinking, for me, as a teacher.
 
I began using these specific midline movements, I called Brain Integration Therapy, with my students daily before we started our lessons. It was a good “warm-up” session and was a nice start to the day. As I did these exercises daily, I noticed fewer reading and writing reversals in my students. The quick, easy daily midline writing exercise was quickly improving their spacing, and writing fluency immensely. I did not see as much change in the auditory processing and memory with the students, however.

I decided to go back for more training in midline therapy to see if I could make learning easier for my students with moderate and severe auditory processing problems (remembering names of letters, or sight words, or phonemes, or understand verbal information, etc.) It was in those more advanced workshops that I discovered the “key” to quickly creating the pathway from the “thinking” hemisphere to the “automatic” brain hemisphere. 


The Eyes Have It
I learned the powerful role of the eyes in accessing different parts of the brain. I learned that brain scans revealed that when the eyes look upper left, the right brain is activated. Since the right brain hemisphere is the “automatic” brain hemisphere, I found that I could much more rapidly create a strong pathway to the automatic brain hemisphere by adding another technique to the midline exercises. Once a week, I found I could activate the right brain to “take over” the process of eye tracking, or whatever area we were working on, by having the child do the activity that was not automatic, and then having them look upper left while doing the crossing the body movement we call the cross crawl. I did this with them. We did this movement for about a minute or so. I also used music to further activate the automatic brain hemisphere for this process. The results were amazing.

Using this once a week “Specific Brain Training”, I saw changes rapidly. As one of my students, Casey said, “I can remember the names of all my teachers now.” Delores, another eighth-grade student said, “I can understand what I hear. I don’t always have to say, ‘what’, anymore.” I saw rapid changes in how they were processing auditory information. All skills took a huge leap forward. They were so noticeable that parents came in to ask what we were doing. Even my special education teaching partner across the hall, Anna Alvarado, asked me if I would show her what I was doing because she was noticing such a difference in these same students when they came to her class for math. We became partners in our shared learning curve. In fact, at the end of the year, we had quite a few students who could “staff out” of special education (and only be monitored) because of the leaps in learning they had made. Soon I was asked to give “teacher in-service” workshops to our school, and then the surrounding schools, and then state-wide, etc. Now, there are many more “midline therapy” resources available in addition to the one I used. (See the list below for these resources).


A Teaching Revelation
I soon realized that I could affect the processing abilities of my students by helping them with daily exercises and the all-important once a week Specific Brain Trainings. These results often showed in their WISC-IV cognitive testing by the psychologist. However, I learned that the midline therapy did not teach them the skills they needed to make leaps in learning. I saw my students each day for classes in reading, writing, and math. I realized that I needed to teach them in a totally different way if I was going to see the progress I was looking for.

That is when I developed and used the “Healing Teaching” method. My students came to me each day, for about 50 minutes each class. I learned that when I incorporated the midline exercises and a new method of teaching in that time frame, I generally saw a two- year growth in reading and writing, and a three -year growth in spelling and math. I was responsible for their grade, and all the content of reading, writing, and math. For my teaching sessions with these struggling students, I put the “Brain Integration Therapy” and the “Right Brain Teaching Strategies” together to make this growth.
 
An example of a reading teaching/therapy session would be:
1) Midline Exercises.

Teacher and students did all 6 midline exercises together. (10 minutes).

2) Decoding.

20 minutes decoding (sounding out) long words, with the decoding unit (au/aw) in color in the long word. The picture that gave that sound was on the wall in front of them always (teaching to their camera).

3) Sight Word practice. 

I made Right Brain Sight Word Cards for them to easily remember their sight words and be able to spell them using their strong eye camera. You can easily make Right Brain Sight Word Cards just by drawing the name of the word (meaning) directly on the letters, so the brain sees it in a “unit” (word and name) and quickly retrieves it that way also. Color, humor, and emotion put the “Visual Velcro” on the words that the right brain quickly picks up and stores for easy retrieval.

4) Oral reading from a decodable reader with the decoding units in color. 

I just made my own, since there were none available. But you can just use color for the “phonemes” (decoding units) you are using. We never did any “cold reading”. That is, my students never looked at a page in a book “cold”. I always did my own Pre-Reading, where I looked over the page and pulled out all the “tricky” words and put them on a large piece of paper first. We then proceeded to sound them out, or just talk about them before they read them in the story. I learned not to “correct them” when they were doing oral reading. This was not effective for retaining the word, and they did not like to read orally for me if I did this. 

5) We only had our teaching sessions four days a week. 

On the fifth day, I took the students individually and did the all-important once a week Specific Brain Training. That took about 15 minutes per student. The others were listening to stories on tape. That was one of their favorite activities we did once a week.


A Winning Combination

The adventure of creating more brain connections through physical exercises, and through the training of the child’s right brain, where the strong photographic memory is housed, is a wonderful process to be involved with. It is life-changing. You will see more smiles than you ever have before. 


Let me know about your successes so we can celebrate together. God is so good.
Dianne Craft


Resources
 Brain Balance
 Brain Highways

 Brain Integration Therapy

Family Hope Center
 Little Giant Steps

NACD 
NILD

 


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By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

One of the most puzzling situations a mother finds herself in is when she has a child who can read the words in a book but cannot answer the questions or tell her what has just been read. These moms frequently hear the phrase, “I don’t remember,” when queried about the reading material.

When working with bright, hardworking 4th through 8th graders in my reading class, I often had students who were experiencing this particular reading difficulty.

I realized that these students were not proficient at converting the words they were reading into a “movie” in their head, as the rest of us do when we read. They were merely doing “word calling” much of the time. I found that “movie making” was a skill that could be developed in them, using an easy fifteen-minute a day exercise. This exercise did not involve paper or pencil, but only the use of their brain. “Word calling” is a left-brain auditory task, while creating a picture or movie of those words is the responsibility of the right brain hemisphere. I merely showed them how to create a seamless flow of words to pictures as they were reading. You can do this at home very easily.

Converting Words to Pictures
When a child or teenager regularly reads a passage well, but “can’t remember what is said,” we know that he is using an inefficient strategy for comprehension. He often is trying to remember the exact words he read, rather than converting the words into pictures.

Whether he is reading for recreation or information, he must change the words he reads into images in his mind. The more these images involve the senses (sight, sound, smell, feel), the greater will be the comprehension of the passage.

Daily Training Sessions
The following steps can be used with a student to develop his ability to change the words he hears or reads into pictures for good comprehension. You will be surprised how fast his comprehension skills will improve after just a few weeks of these “training sessions.”

This method works well with one child or a group of children or teenagers.

 

STEP 1: PARENT/TEACHER READS A PASSAGE ALOUD
Choose material to read to the child that is interesting and very descriptive. Standing in front of him as you read to him, have the child sit upright and keep his eyes upward, creating a “movie” in his mind. You can pretend that you are looking at the projection screen in a movie theatre to further aid him in his “movie making.” Read a sentence or two aloud. Then ask him a few questions until you are sure he is seeing the pictures of the words you read, in detail.

For example, this is how your training session might look if you are reading aloud a passage about a beaver. The first sentence you read may be, “The beaver is the largest rodent in North America.” Stop reading, and point to the imaginary screen, and say, “On our screen, let’s draw a quick sketch of North America. Now put the beaver on that map.”

Your next sentence in this passage will read, “An adult beaver weights from 35-70 pounds.” Stop reading and point up to the imaginary screen and say, “Now, use the ‘zoom lens’ of your brain camera and write ‘35-70’ on the beaver’s coat. Let’s use white paint to do this. Is your paint dripping? Oh well, he’ll wash it off soon.”

The next sentence in the text will be, “Because of its large lungs, a beaver can remain submerged in water for fifteen minutes. Stop reading and look up at the screen and help the child see this in his head by saying, “Now we need to change our scene. Let’s make a picture of a pond, with beavers around it. Do you see it on your screen? Now have one of the beavers slip into the pond. See him down on the bottom of the pond. Picture a large clock next to him. Have the hands of the clock move from twelve o’clock to twelve fifteen.”

As you do this training, instruct your child how to “move” his pictures and “freeze” them when he wants to notice something. You both will have great fun with this!

When you get to the end of a passage you’re reading, instruct your child to “rewind” the movie, to answer some questions about the passage. As you ask the questions, direct his gaze upward as he reviews his “movie” for the answers. This is the exciting part. Your child will be amazed at how easy it is to answer the questions.


STEP 2: THE STUDENT READS ALOUD TO YOU

After your child has demonstrated proficiency in converting words to pictures as he hears them, he is ready to read the words himself while creating his “movie.” Select a reading passage that is easy for him to read so that he can concentrate on making pictures rather than sounding out new words. Repeat the process you used before, stopping him after he has read a sentence or two, to ask him some questions about his “movie.” Direct his gaze upward to see what he just read. Be sure he gives you detailed pictures. As this becomes easier and more accurate for him, you can increase the number of sentences he reads before you ask questions.

STEP 3: THE STUDENT READS SILENTLY
When your child is successfully reading aloud while making good pictures in his mind, you can have him read a passage silently, asking him to stop every few lines or so, and asking him to tell you about the pictures he has made. If the pictures are detailed and accurate, you can have him read to the end of the passage uninterrupted. At the end of the reading, have him “rewind” his film and tell you all that he has read. You will be surprised at the things he remembers! His “words to pictures” process will soon become automatic. The upward eye movement will soon be unnecessary for the storage and retrieval of reading material.

Remember:
No pictures = No answers
Few pictures = Few answers
Great pictures = Great Answers


This strategy is simple but very effective. Expect to see great changes in the comprehension and retention of reading material in your children.

 

 


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By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

In a recent email I received, a mom wrote:

Hi Dianne, I just came upon your website and articles for the first time and I am very intrigued. You keep mentioning that different teaching strategies and therapies work for ‘bright, hard working children who have to work too hard to learn’. Our son (13) is described as a “slow learner.” We think he’s pretty smart but the teachers and psychologists in his private school don’t agree. They have tested him and found that his IQ is 81. To me, his problems look like dyslexia and severe dysgraphia but the school psychologist told us that his IQ isn’t high enough for that diagnosis. Do you think different teaching strategies and methods will work for him?

 

IQ Testing
This mom’s email poses a very good question. Let’s look at how a child’s IQ is tested, and how these tests are interpreted.

Generally, the cognitive (IQ) test, the WISC-IV, is given to determine whether a not a child has a learning disability and qualifies for an IEP (special education intervention). The rationale is that if a child tests with an average (90-109), or high IQ, but is testing far below that level in core subjects such as reading, writing or math, that the child has a learning disability. The child is then given an IEP, with the intent of using different teaching methods (small groups, etc.) to help that child achieve up to his/her ability level. 

However, if a child tests with a low IQ, and also tests far below level in the core subjects, it is determined that interventions would not help this child, because he/she is learning at his/her capacity. This is a cruel position for a child to be put into. The child is then assumed to be a “slow learner” and is saddled with low expectations throughout his/her school career.

Could a child be “smart,” and still test as having a low IQ using the most common tests? Let’s look at the parts of the test.

There are generally four parts to the IQ test:
1. Verbal Comprehension
2. Perceptual Comprehension
3. Working Memory
4. Processing Speed

After 30 years of working in special education, many of them in public schools, I no longer have much faith in the IQ tests and their interpretations. Why? A child may be thoughtful, creative, and curious, with a great speaking vocabulary, but test low in Verbal Comprehension and Working Memory because of an Auditory Processing Problem. 

Working Memory frequently “sinks their ship” in this test because it requires very good auditory memory, such as auditory sequencing skills and ability to hear one’s “silent voice.” In this part of the test, the child is given a sequence of numbers and letters orally and asked to repeat them back to the examiner, and then repeat them in reverse. 

While the intent is to test their IQ, in my opinion, it really is testing a child’s Auditory Processing skills. I have found that one of the ten Auditory Channels is the ability to sequence unrelated sounds. That actually is what this part of the test is checking. Thus, when I was reviewing a student’s file, before creating a learning plan for him, if I saw that the Working Memory and Verbal portion of the IQ test were low, I would pull out all the Auditory Processing correcting therapies to do. 

In addition to these therapies, I would teach this child to use his visual, right brain memory as his strength, bypassing the weakness, so that learning would become easy. If a child had a low score for Processing Speed, I instituted eye tracking exercises to help with his visual processing speed when reading. If the “coding” score (rapidly copying symbols) was low in the Processing Speed section of the test, then I knew this child had some form of Dysgraphia, and I instituted a midline writing exercise that transferred the writing and spatial processing to the child’s Automatic Brain Hemisphere. These are all correctable areas.

Low IQ and/or Auditory Processing Problem
One year, in my pull out Middle School Resource Room (IEP special education classroom), I had four sixth grade students who had previously been in self-contained classrooms for “slow learners” (think low IQ) for their elementary years. Now they were entering middle school, and the parents wanted them to go to the school in their neighborhood rather than being bused to a school that would have a self-contained classroom. Thus, those four students came to my Resource Room for reading, writing, and math, while being mainstreamed for the other subjects. 

It was my opinion that all four of the students had severe Auditory Processing Problems. One student, in particular, stands out in my mind. Her name was Janet. She was a lovely, tall, quiet sixth grader. She had such a severe auditory processing problem (which was interpreted to be a very low IQ), that when playing “tag” with the kids in her neighborhood when she would close her eyes and count, she frequently could not count past 18. 

Now, you can see how this would be interpreted as a very slow learner since this is a skill children have in first grade. However, I saw it as the auditory sequencing channel being blocked, independent of her IQ. This, of course, affected her reading, math, and writing ability significantly. 

Viewing this issue as a result of a “disconnect” between her auditory and visual brain hemispheres, I did the Brain Integration Therapy that I had learned. (Any Neurodevelopmental therapy could be used also. I chose this one because it took little time which allowed me to do it in the classroom along with teaching the other subjects to my students. Most importantly, it did not cost any money, just my time).

After working with Janet for that year using the daily midline exercises and Brain Trainings, and teaching her to use her photographic memory for spelling, reading, and math, she made huge progress (three year’s growth). But the most satisfying part was that in the IQ test that the school psychologist gave her at the end of the year, she tested with an average IQ. 

I will never forget that staffing with Janet’s parents where the school psychologist told the parents that their daughter was no longer considered a “slow learner.” The wonderful thing about that year was that all four of the students who had tested with low IQs experienced the same result. In fact, that psychologist has written an endorsement for using Brain Training exercises in the classroom for children who test with a low IQ.

Low IQ and/or Dyslexia and Dysgraphia
In the mom’s email at the beginning, she said she thinks her son has Dyslexia and Dysgraphia, but the school psychologist said he couldn’t be diagnosed with a learning disability because of his low IQ. This implies that a child who tests as a “slow learner” cannot also have Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. I have found the opposite to be true. The students I have worked with who test this way almost always have either Dyslexia or Dysgraphia and most of the time it is both issues.

Allow me one more story. An eighth grader named Joshua came to my Resource Room for reading, writing, and math as a new student. In his previous years, he had been in a self-contained classroom of children and teens with a low IQ. He was basically a non-writer. This was assumed to be because of his low IQ testing. However, when I had all my students write a paragraph at the beginning of the year, just to assess their writing levels, he made almost all of his letters backwards.

None of his words, beyond, “the” were readable. He even misspelled his last name. He was also a non-reader, struggling with reading words from back to front, and not being able to sound out any words. To me, that was both Dyslexia and Dysgraphia.

I used the same teaching strategies and therapies that I used with Janet. Since kids with an IEP are only tested every three years with an IQ test, I did not have those results as this was not a testing year for Joshua.

However, that year Joshua gained three years in reading and spelling using the Woodcock/Johnson Achievement Test. Besides academic improvements, Joshua’s skills improved in many ways. He changed from being so spatially challenged that he needed a Para-Pro to walk around with him in his old school because he would get lost, to now not only navigating this large middle school alone but working as a counselor’s aid for one period which involved taking telephone messages to the teachers in their classrooms. 

In addition, at Joshua’s annual staffing, along with his parents, his neighbors came to find out what we were doing with Joshua that was making such a difference in his confidence and behavior. In fact, there was an entire newspaper article devoted to his change. The title of the article was, “The Education of Joshua.” I still have that newspaper clipping as a reminder to never put a ceiling on a child’s learning just because of tests.

What will be my response to this mom’s email about her son? I will tell her that the IQ tests are very limited in their ability to test a child’s thinking ability. Much of the time they are really testing a child’s information processing ability. Processing skills (Visual, Auditory, and Visual/Motor processing) can be corrected when the right interventions (neither expensive nor hard) are applied. 

I will tell her to go ahead and do the interventions. My experience is that kids soar in learning ability when we do these kinds of alternative (not curriculum driven) brain exercises, to eliminate the processing problems, and use photographic memory learning strategies. It takes daily work and diligence, but the rewards are great.

Some may say that this is too simplistic a solution or interpretation. I might agree, but I am tainted….I have experienced these changes too many times to believe otherwise. Like the blind man who experienced Jesus’ touch said, “All I know is that I was blind, and now I see.”

 

 


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By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP


When my son reads, he struggles so much because he has to sound out the same word over and over again in the story.”

 

When I give my son three simple directions, he only does one…if that! I’m sure he has an Auditory Processing Problem.”

 

How the Brain Processes
What is happening when bright, hard working kids and teenagers have to expend so much energy to process things they hear? For all of us, the left auditory brain hemisphere is supposed to learn new material, and then transfer it to the right visual hemisphere for long term storage, and easy retrieval. When a child or teenager is struggling in this area, the hemispheres are not communicating as they should. It is like there is a “disconnect.”

 

 

Problems

Symptoms of an Auditory Processing Problem
When a child is experiencing a significant Auditory Processing Problem the child/teenager almost always has difficulty with:

1 – Reading
Sight Words:

  • Word retrieval is difficult. Child tries to sound out all sight words. “what=w-h-a-t”
  • Difficulty learning names of alphabet letters when younger.


Phonics:

  • Phonics “rules” (think auditory input) don’t stick, even with games.
  • Sounds out same word over and over again while reading.
  • Parents are often on their third or fourth phonics program.
  • Reads “extra” letters in a word that aren’t there, such as an “n” or “r”.
  • Often two or more years below grade level in reading when older.


2 – Spelling

  • Words can’t be read by anyone else because they are not spelled phonetically. Leaves out consonant and whole syllables, not just vowels, which are tricky for everyone.
  • Spells word differently each time. Has no “picture” of the word in his head.


3 – Math

  • Math facts difficult to learn even with music, games, “wraps” and much repetition.
  • Skip counting or remembering the order of months of the year are hard.
  • Mental math is difficult (hearing his own silent voice).


4 – Memory

  • Because most curriculum relies on auditory teaching methods, (reading, worksheets, listening to lecture), child appears to have memory issues. 
  • A child who is using too much energy for focus/attention can also appear to have a poor memory.


5 – Tongue Twisters

  • Ordering sounds is hard, so the child says words like, “Sundenly; Shuspicious; Mazagine”.
  • Avoids saying challenging words in conversation.


6 – Understanding Verbal Directions

  • When a child asks for directions to be repeated regularly, or says “what” a lot, it can be a focus/attention issue or an Auditory Issue, if other symptoms are present.
  • Not all of these symptoms need to be present to have an Auditory Processing Dysfunction. The more severe the issue, the more symptoms will be present.

 


What to Do?
Parents and teachers have found that they can make learning easier for their child by doing two steps: “Bypassing and Correcting.”

 

Bypasses

It has been found that we can “bypass” the child’s difficulty with auditory processing of material by using more visual, right-brain teaching methods. Let’s look at some of these successful methods that parents use at home to help their child “get in touch with the smart part of themselves.”

 

Reading
Right Brain Sight Words. This teaching technique involves embedding the picture of the word onto the letters. Greatly struggling readers love this method because they can immediately remember the words to read and spell. To see an example of this method, watch this video here on my site. These words can be made at home…no expense!

Right Brain Phonics. For a struggling reader, an intensive phonics program is necessary. Because of the Auditory Processing Problem, games, workbooks, writing or black and white cards often don’t transfer to easier reading. For my students in my Resource Reading class in school, I created a Right Brain Phonics reading method, which again, uses the embedding process. Using this method, I was able to see a two year growth in my students, ages 7-14, in one year. You can view this teaching method on my website.

Other Intensive Phonics programs. My experience with those who exhibit a fairly severe Auditory Processing Problem, I have found only five programs that seem to work well for these students. They vary in expense greatly. Some are very expensive, others moderately so, and one is minimally expensive. If you would like a list of these five programs and their descriptions, just email me, child.diagnosticscs@gmail.com, and put “Alternative Phonics Programs” in the subject line.

 

Spelling
Spelling “rules” are auditory. Thus, they do not stick for this population. To bypass this spelling glitch, I used the Right Brain Spelling method with my students in school. I taught them how to use their strong Photographic Memory for memorizing spelling words. It worked remarkably well, and greatly took the stress out of a child’s life. When I taught my gifted sixth through eighth graders, I used this method exclusively to get a two to three year growth in spelling in a year. To read about how to use this easy, inexpensive method, read the article, “Teaching a Right Brain Child,” on this website.

Math
Math is one of the most auditory subjects that we teach. Because the math facts and processes are often taught by using rules (think auditory) and repetition, the child can become very discouraged, and the parent feels that the child isn’t “trying” to learn the facts. Once again, I turned to the child’s Photographic Memory to teach the facts and to remember processes. I have “Right Brain Math Strategies” in our Lesson Plans section for parents who are interested in learning more about these helpful strategies.

 

Corrections

While the parent is successfully bypassing the auditory processing glitch, steps can be taken that will actually help to “correct” the child’s processing issue. This is a very exciting part of working with a struggling learner. I used two main methods to correct an Auditory Processing Problem in the children I worked with: Brain Integration Therapy and Targeted Nutritional Interventions.

Increase Brain Connections
This is the exciting part. I found that I could effectively increase connections between the left/right, top/bottom and back/front part of the brain by using very specific body exercises to train the brain. I used the Brain Integration Therapy Manual for that, doing the program that takes twenty minutes a day. This is the method I used in my Resource Room classes with my bright but struggling learners, to achieve two-year reading growth in just one year, when used with right brain teaching strategies (www.diannecraft.org). I found this to be the least expensive, and fastest working midline therapy around. Results are often seen with one month. It also can be done by any “untrained” person.

Another way to help improve brain connections would be to “outsource” this Brain Integrating process by seeking outside therapies such as NACD (www.nacd.org) or I Can Do, (www.ican-do.net) outside of the home. Auditory Sound programs have also proven to be helpful. Auditory Integration Therapy, www.auditoryintegration.net, or the Fast Forward program, www.gemmlearning.com

 
Target Nutritional Issues
As a nutritionist, it has been my experience that by using targeted nutritional supplements many parents have found that they can greatly increase their child’s auditory processing ability. When healing an Auditory Processing Problem in a child, for years I have relied on Brain Integration Therapy to reconnect brain processing areas, very specific Essential Fatty Acids, and Lecithin…the “auditory memory” food. This subject will be explored in great detail in another article entitled, “The Biology of Auditory Processing and Memory Problems.”

 

 

 


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By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

Are you working with a bright, hard working child or teenager who has to work too hard to learn?  This is the child who does not respond to other curriculum or materials and teaching strategies that have worked so well with your other children. In fact, you may be on your fourth reading/phonics program, your third math program, and your fourth spelling program.  

If it is your first child or student who is struggling, you may now have a younger sibling or other students who are yelling out the words from the corner of the room. That’s when you decide, “Something isn’t right” with this child.  You wonder if this child has a processing problem, a learning disability, or Dyslexia.   You are puzzled because orally, he/she is so good in many things, and loves to listen to stories.  What is going on?

According to Dr. Mel Levine, MD, in his book, One Mind at a Time, all learning requires energy. He refers to it as “battery energy.”  I like this term.  It clearly describes what we see happening with the struggling learner. This child is using way too much battery energy to write or remember sight words or phonics for reading.  We see the battery drain happen before our eyes.  Our question is, why does this child have to work so hard at things that should not take so much energy to learn or remember?  

This energy drain is generally because this child has one or more of the Four Learning Gates blocked.  We think of these learning gates as information pathways.  Children who learn easily seem “smart” because they don’t have any major blocks in their information pathways.  Our struggling learner may have many blocks.  When we speak of a blocked learning gate, we mean that the processing skill has not transferred into the Automatic Brain Hemisphere. The child continues to need to concentrate on the processing task because of this lack of transfer.

 

Exploring the Four Learning Gates
As you look at the list of characteristics of a struggling learner, it is important to remember that many children have one characteristic, but aren’t struggling.  Conversely, a child does not need all of the characteristics to be struggling.  It is also common to find that a child has all four learning gates blocked.

 

1. Visual Processing Gate
The act of moving the eyes over a page from left to right is not a naturally developed trait.  For example, in Israel they read right to left, and in Japan they read in a column.  We teach this process when a child is first learning to read, by having him track with his finger across the page to train his eyes to move in this fashion.  After some practice, this should transfer to the child’s automatic hemisphere.  

 

How do we know if this process has not transferred and is taking too much energy?  

These are some of the characteristics this child will exhibit:
  • Reading reversals (on=no; was=saw…after age seven)
  • Skipping of little words, but can read longer word
  • Reading begins smooth, but soon becomes labored
  • Older children who can read, but tire easily…yawning shortly after beginning reading.

 

2. Writing Processing Gate
When the child’s visual/spatial skills, or the act of writing, haven’t transferred into the automatic hemisphere, he often looks like he’s “sloppy, lazy or unmotivated.”  His papers are poorly spaced, or he refuses to write much of anything for the parent or teacher. This is the most common learning gate that is blocked in gifted children.  It seems like they are “allergic to a pencil.”  Transferring his thoughts into writing, or just copying something, takes a huge amount of battery energy for this child.  

 

Characteristics of this gate being blocked include:
  • Frequent or occasional reversals in letters after age seven (even if only “once in awhile”)
  • Copying is laborious
  • Poor spacing in math papers
  • Great stories orally, but writes very little
  • Does mental math to avoid writing

 

3. Auditory Processing Gate
A common myth about Auditory Processing is,  “My child has an auditory processing problem because he can’t remember three directions at once.”  This is likely more of a focusing/attention issue.  For example, if we would ask him to ”Go into the kitchen and get a candy bar, a glass of chocolate milk, and a dish of ice cream for you,” the child would likely remember these directions.

 

A child, who is suffering with an Auditory Processing Problem, generally has trouble with reading.  

  

Common characteristics of this gate being blocked are:
  • Phonics sounds don’t stick; no matter how many games you have played.
  • Sight words are hard to memorize…even learning alphabet letter names can be hard
  • Sounds out same word over and over in a story
  • Can’t easily sequence sounds…like months of the year or skip counting
  • Is a “Word Guesser”
  • No phonetic pattern to spelling…doesn’t hear consonants.  “Thursday is Tuesday”

 

4. Focus/Attention Gate
This can be the most puzzling blocked learning gate to identify. A child may look like he has no memory, or a true learning disability, when what is really going on is that this child has to use too much battery energy to remain focused during the instruction, or completing the lesson.  The child may look like he is “paying attention” to your lesson by giving you good eye contact.  However, in his head, he is “two doors down playing with his friend, or in the dinosaur village.”   

 

Here are some characteristics of a child who has to use too much battery energy to remain focused:
  • Inconsistency in performance from one day to another
  • Needs to have someone sit with him to finish work
  • Forgets previously learned work much of the time…seems to have a “memory” problem
  • Can have impulsive behavior…easily getting upset when things go wrong.
  • Sensory Processing problems (little things bother him a lot, like tags on shirts, loud noises, transitions, foods, etc.)

 

Be assured, you do not need to be an “expert, or professional” to make learning easier for your child or student.  In the many articles I have on my website, I discuss each learning gate individually, and show you the corrections that I developed when I taught these wonderful children in my special education classes.  

 

You will see that it is not hard to do.  It just requires some tools, strategies and techniques that you may not be familiar with right now.  

 Bottom line:  Learning does not have to be so hard for your child.

 


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