By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist,SPED Homeschool Board MemberCurriculum Partner,  Consultant Partner, and Therapy Partner 

 

Dys, dys, dys what is a mom to do? I just had a child in my office this week with all three labels and they added Auditory Processing Disorder on top of all the ”dys.” This mom, like many of you, wanted the child tested and even labeled so he could get some help. What she received was far from what she hoped. Instead, she received a lot of labels, some vague, general recommendations to remediate his work and ways he might cope and compensate for these conditions for the rest of his life. NeuroDevelopment offers a unique perspective. The goal of neurodevelopment is to find the root cause of each of the symptoms that show up on the test for these labels and to equip the parent with activities that work on that root cause to decrease or eliminate it. For a better understanding of this perspective, I encourage you to watch a video entitled: To Label or Not to Label

 

For now, let’s delve into the “dys” labels. 

When you look up the meaning of the prefix, dys you find: “bad”, “abnormal”, “difficult”, “hard”, “imperfect” or “impaired.”

Adding “lexia” (meaning – readable [to choose words; to gather, to collect; to pick out, to choose; to read, to recite]) to “dys” results in dyslexia.

Adding “calculia” (meaning-learning related to numbers and mathematics) to “dys”results in dyscalculia.

Finally, adding “graphy” (meaning-form of drawing, writing, representing, recording, describing, etc) to “dys” results in dysgraphia.

 

Mostly, children with typical or above average to even gifted intelligence are labeled with these “dys” labels. Some sources even admit that these reading, math, or writing challenges are totally unexpected in these bright children. In fact, one very sad result of these labeled difficulties is that these children often feel they are not very smart, even though they may have a very high IQ. Plus, their parents don’t know how to explain the disconnect between their intelligence and learning struggles. 

 

The traditional approach for remediating these “dys” issues focus attention on the difficulty, the abnormal struggle, and the impaired ability to do typical academic tasks. Unfortunately, this approach also blinds us to the solutions. 

 

Do this experiment for me – put the palm of your hand against your nose with fingers fanned out. Now, look at a scene outside your window. Is your view of the scene distorted? Now straighten your arm in front of you, parallel to the floor, and look at the scene again. Your hand is still there in your peripheral vision but it is not skewing your perspective of the scene. That is how I encourage you to look at these labels. They don’t need to be a daily topic or excuse for not being able to get school work finished. They can simply be an awareness (your hand in the peripheral position) that there are inefficiencies happening in the brain that can be addressed at the root to make function easier. I like to tell the children that they are really smart but their brain is tricking them right now so it is harder for all the smart to come out easily. 

 

Let me illustrate this with a dysgraphia label. One boy with this label as well as a 130 IQ described it like this: “My hands feel fluffy.” Now think about it, if you had fluff at the end of your arms would you be able to control a pencil? NO! In this child’s brilliance he was describing an immature pathway from his brain to his hand that was not allowing him to control his fingers to form the letters like his teacher wanted. This caused frustration on all sides of the issue. You could put this child in handwriting classes for hours a day and this difficulty is not going to change until the underlying issue of the brain pathway is addressed. Of course this is only one possible root cause of the many that could get a child that label but I hope you can see the point. In my daughter’s case, she had so much trouble writing legible and on the line that in addition to the poor brain pathway to her hand, her central detail vision wasn’t working well. This meant that she couldn’t even see all of the lines she was supposed to write on. These were developmental issues that were addressed with neurodevelopmental activities that stimulate the brain in these areas. Improvement was then made. 

 

As for dysgraphia, there are many possible root causes for the symptoms for that diagnosis. A few of these root causes could be the inability to hold information in short-term memory in order to see the big picture or poor long-term memory storage which  makes fact retrieval difficult.  

 

I have listed many symptoms of dyslexia’s root causes in this document to give you a better idea of the neurodevelopmental perspective on dyslexia. It is “the hand in the scene but not in your face” perspective that should help you know how to homeschool a child with these labels. 

 

If you are looking for more information, visit the Brain Coach Tips YouTube channel or www.BrainSprints.com to get more information on how The NeuroDevelopmental Approach can help you see more solutions for learning struggles. 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

 By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, SPED Homeschool Board Member, Curriculum PartnerConsultant Partner, and Therapy Partner 

 

Dyslexia is a malady that has perplexed parents, educators, and those diagnosed with it for years. Children think they are “not very smart” because they can’t read as well as their peers. Parents wonder if their child is even trying because they know they are smart. Educators have a classroom full of students and are unsure of how to help the child that is obviously bright but struggling to keep up with academic demands.

 

If you are looking for help for dyslexia in an internet search, you often find descriptions like these:

 

  1. One website gave this statistic:
  • Approximately 15% of people have dyslexia. 
  • This equates to over 30 million adults in the United States, about 6 million in the United Kingdom, and 3 million in Canada. Most don’t know they are dyslexic! 

 

  1. Mayo Clinic states: “Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding)…”

 

  1. Yale University suggests: “In fact, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader…”

 

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, “Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding.”

 

A Bit of Dyslexia History

The individual that first identified dyslexia, Samuel Orton, had a much broader list of symptoms for people with this condition. He said they have some or a combination of these characteristics: 

  • balance issues
  • eye tracking and convergence challenges
  • lack of typical coordination
  • cross dominance (using the opposite eye or ear from the dominant handedness)
  • poor phonemic awareness
  • struggles to spell correctly

 

The numbers of those struggling with this condition are staggering. The current educational system in the United States only offers programs to compensate for symptoms and a long reading remediation process focused on phonics for the challenges of children with dyslexia. For adults with dyslexia, there are few options besides living with it and doing the best you can. That sounds quite bleak to me. 

 

From a NeuroDevelopmental (ND) perspective, the question about all these dyslexic symptoms is 2-fold:

 

  • WHAT is allowing all of the atypical struggles to exist?
  • Why has the original group of symptoms found by Samuel Orton been reduced to a phonetic approach? 

 

In other words, why are all but one of the factors first discovered by Mr. Orton considered in the treatment of dyslexia? Neurodevelopmentalists know that human function is controlled by the brain. How that brain is organized and the developmental steps that have taken place for that individual make all the difference in the functional outcomes. Our experience with individuals labeled with or suspected of dyslexia has been very different than the traditional view of doing a 2-year intensive phonics program and then living with any residual struggle and merely coping and compensating for a lifetime. 

 

The ND approach looks at the whole child to see what might be causing the glitches in function. 

  • Are the eyes not working in tandem so that letters on a page are overlapping and barely distinguishable? 
  • Is the central detail vision not working optimally so small words, parts of words, or punctuation seem to disappear. 
  • Is the auditory short-term memory poorly developed to cause problems with using phonics? The child just can’t seem to hold all the pieces together to get the word out promptly. 
  • Is it that the lower levels of the brain are not organized to enable a fluid flow of information from one hemisphere of the brain to the other?  
  • Is information being stored in the wrong part of the brain causing the individual to have an inconsistent recall?  
  • Or is it a combination of several of the above? 

 

This is very frustrating for everyone! The mom thinks the child has the concept or information just to find the child is unable to retrieve it the next day. The child doesn’t understand why the information isn’t coming out as mom expects. 

 

If you would like to see some of the symptoms we have frequently encountered when working with individuals with dyslexia and the possible root causes from a NeuroDevelopmental point of view, click here 

 

Our experience shows that if the root cause is addressed through equipping the parents with knowledge of the right type of brain stimulation, the children come up an average of a year or more  in math and reading in just four months. This is a far cry from most experiences of getting further and further behind each year. Parents are the key to this change! You don’t have to load your family in the car and drive across town for some expensive therapy. The NeuroDevelopmental Approach can be added to your home school with incredibly positive results. 

For more information and the opportunity for a free consultation, visit  www.BrainSprints.com

 

 

 

 

 


Did you know that if every person who visited our website donated one dollar we would be completely funded?

Help us reach our funding goal  – Donate Today

 

 

By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, SPED Homeschool Partner & Board Member

 

Behavior and character are topics parents are always interested in pursuing. The privilege and responsibility we have in raising our children in the way they should go can often be a challenging and frustrating journey. It would be easier if we knew what influenced certain behaviors and how to determine if a negative interaction with a child is a heart issue or if there is something else at the root of it all. 

 

When thinking about the root cause of behavior issues, we must look at several different factors. Some might be more obscure than others. 

 

What is the root cause of challenging behavior? The source of negative behavior could be metabolic, having to do with body chemistry. It could also be the sin nature we were all born with. Or, from my perspective, it could be caused by neurodevelopmental deficits. We will look mainly at neurodevelopmental causes, but the others are well worth mentioning. 

 

  1. Metabolic Causes

Diet and nutrition can play a significant role in negative behavior. If the child reacts to food or the environment, it can cause a wide range of difficult behaviors like irritability, anger, and even aggression or destructiveness. This is beyond the child’s control and care should be taken to consider this as a cause since you cannot discipline this out of a child. One approach to this is to create a food diary each time you see negative behavior, especially if the behavior is uncharacteristic of the child in general. If you see a pattern in food consumed and negative behavior, try eliminating that food type and see if the behavior changes. 

 

  1. Neurodevelopmental Causes

Underdeveloped brain pathways can cause challenges in receiving sensory information correctly, processing information in your short-term memory, as well as storing information for good retrieval. These, like the metabolic causes, are beyond the child’s ability to control. 

Let me give you a few neurodevelopmental examples. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Sensory Overload: If the child is hypersensitive to touch or sound and noises or irritating touches invade the child’s sensory system, the immediate overreaction is fight or flight because the brain is interpreting these stimuli as pain. When you are in pain, you want to get away or retaliate. The result can be negative behavior which is misunderstood by people whose sensory system gives the correct messages.  
  • Underdeveloped Central Vision: It might be considered a negative character quality not to look a person in the eyes when you talk to them. We tend to require this of our children, especially when we try to get our point across about a behavior or character issue. When the central detail vision (how you see right in the center of your vision field) is underdeveloped, the child can move his eyes toward you but soon look like he is looking over your shoulder. You have trained him to move his eyes toward you, but since he can’t really see well in the center, the eye moves so he can look with his peripheral vision. This is often interpreted as defiance or disobedience when, in fact, it is beyond the child’s control.
  • Following Directions or Staying on Task: Parents often comment that their child REFUSES to follow directions and exhibits the poor character of not staying with their work. Look no further than the inability to hold pieces of auditory information in short-term memory when you have these behavioral challenges. When children’s auditory processing is low, they literally can’t hold the pieces of the instruction together long enough to complete the request. Often, this gets them in trouble for not “obeying” or not being “diligent” when it was simply beyond their control at this point. Read more about auditory processing and attention here.  

 

  1. Sin Nature

Unlike metabolic or neurodevelopmental causes of negative behavior, the sin nature CAN be controlled by the child. The discerning eye of a caring parent can determine whether they are dealing with a metabolic, neurodevelopmental, or heart issue in a particular situation. 

 

To identify which of the three root causes of behavior or character issues you are dealing with, I suggest watching a couple of videos I recorded called Create a Positive Learning Environment Part 1 & 2 on the  Brain Coach Tips YouTube Channel. These videos will help you better understand the different possible causes of negative behavior that I discussed here and how to change this for better compliance in the future. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, SPED Homeschool Board Member & Therapy Partner

 

April is Autism Awareness Month and we here at SPED Homeschool understand how autism can affect learning and the education process. SPED Homeschool Founder and CEO, Peggy Ployhar, started their family’s homeschooling journey after their son’s autism diagnosis 19 years ago. We hope that our resources will empower your homeschool and your student will reach his/her full potential.

 

An autism diagnosis has become alarmingly more prevalent, moving from 1 in 10,000 births 25-30 years ago to 1 in 66 in recent reports. This increase is not explained away by better testing or the “gene pool” theory. So many children today fall into this label because of the broad spectrum of symptoms that are currently included under the umbrella of autism. As neurodevelopmentalists (NDs), the thought process is that the symptoms causing behavioral triggers resulting in this label should be addressed directly and not simply labeled. The question is, where do you start? 

 

Every individual on the planet learns through their senses. The bulk of the information comes primarily from three of the five sensory avenues – auditory, visual, and tactile. In the case of a diagnosis of autism, these sensory messages can be too sensitive (hypersensitive), not sensitive enough (hyposensitive), or a scrambled message. All of the above cause misinterpretation of sensory input by the brain. Every child does the best they can to function with the information provided through these sensory input channels. If one or more channels are giving distorted information to the brain, it compounds the challenge of the daily demand to function in a typical manner.

 

The NeuroDevelopmental Approach uses brain plasticity (its ability to grow and change) to improve the functional ability of the child. We also acknowledge the huge part that the chemistry of the body plays in individual progress. There isn’t enough space to expand on the metabolic aspect of spectrum disorders, so we will focus here on the ND help that is available. Let’s look at the main areas of input to the brain for some examples.

 

Vision:

When peripheral vision is hypersensitive, it means the detail or central vision is not working well, and the peripheral is working too well. When this happens, it is easy for a child to “play” with their vision by moving objects, flapping arms, or moving fingers, just to name a few common repetitive actions that we refer to as sensory play or stimming. These actions produce endorphins that are the same chemicals that make you feel good when you run. Running to get this feeling is good and very different from continuously pumping this chemical into your system by engaging in sensory play. The more this destructive behavior happens, the further the child retreats from the world around them. NDs encourage a multi-pronged approach to this situation. 1. Discourage the sensory play and redirect as much as possible. 2. Work to improve the central detail vision through specific stimulation so the child’s payoff (endorphins) is no longer there and the behavior stops.

 

By addressing the root cause, these symptoms can diminish significantly and allow more typical functioning to emerge.”

 

Tactile/Touch:

Many children with an autism label have an aversion to light touch. Certain clothes bother them, hugs are rejected, washing hair, haircuts and showers can be a nightmare, and food sensitivities make it hard to get nutritional meals consumed. At the same time this hypersensitivity exists, children may also have trouble distinguishing deep touch or pain (hyposensitivity). They might have unexplained bruises or ear infections that are not acknowledged as a problem until the eardrum bursts. All of these examples reflect a brain that is not getting the right messages from the tactile sensory stimulation in the environment. The ND’s solution again is to provide enough tactile input to change the brain and thus the reaction to the outside stimulus.  

 

Auditory:

Many autistic children are so hypersensitive to sound that much of the auditory stimulation in their world is painful. To combat this pain, many children simply turn off their auditory systems. This results in two very negative outcomes. 1. Withdrawal from friends and family as well as struggles with negative behaviors in noisy environments. 2. Lack of use of the auditory channel creating deficits in auditory sequential processing, which is holding pieces of information in short-term memory. This results in the inability to follow directions, stay on task, comprehend what is said or read, understand cause and effect as well as posing a challenge to reading with a phonetics approach. This deficit causes behavioral and academic challenges. For example, if you have a 9-10 year old that is only processing like a 2-year-old, you may have behavior and even academic abilities more like a 2-year-old. 

 

To address the first issue of hypersensitivity, the auditory system needs stimulation to reduce sound sensitivity. For low processing (short-term memory), the children need to learn to stretch their ability over time to be more age-appropriate. This is done through specific 1-2 minute interactions that happen multiple times a day. The results have astounded parents as well as professionals working with these children. To find out more about this important aspect of the autism diagnosis, visit this link. You will find a free test kit to check your child’s short-term memory level for yourself, information about the importance of auditory processing for successfully navigating life, as well as how to enhance this extremely valuable, life-long skill. 

 

In conclusion, it is the author’s opinion that we must pay much more attention to the cause of those negative indicators. By addressing the root cause, these symptoms can diminish significantly and allow more typical functioning to emerge. The best place to do this is at home, so homeschooling a child with autism is highly recommended. When parents are equipped with the right kind of information to stimulate the child’s brain at the root cause, progress toward typical function can be achieved. This is in stark contrast to public schools that have rooms that overstimulate with random stimulus. When there is a room full of children with sensory issues and non-typical behavior, how can you expect your child to gain typical development or behavior? Home with the model of parents and siblings is a much better option. 

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

 

By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, SPED Homeschool Board Member & Partner 

 

Documentation of your daily efforts to homeschool a child with special needs can seem tricky. Each state has its own requirements, so you have to stay abreast of that, of course. Beyond that, you need a system that can easily assure you – and well-meaning relatives – that the best education possible is happening for your child.

 

Remember Homeschool Is the Best Place for Your Child!

In a public school, your child would have an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan). That plan would put in place modifications and recommendations for more individualized instruction and traditionally only includes academics. What could be more individualized than a parent who understands their child better than anyone in the world and can modify on the fly for academics and life-skills? The answer: NOBODY! A motivated, informed parent is the best advocate for successfully educating a child with special needs, but progress for a child that learns differently is sometimes hard to document. 

 

Be Creative with Your School Day!

Depending on the severity of the developmental, academic, or intellectual delay, your school day will look different. It is not like a typical student where you show how many pages were completed in a given period. At Brain Sprints, we encourage our families to use a detailed checklist where each item for the day can be easily checked off for documentation of work done with the child. The list would include non-traditional school activities like how many times a day you work together on auditory or visual processing (short-term memory). Or what work you did to normalize the tactile system with specific stimulation. Or activities that would organize the lower levels of the brain for better coordination as well as organized thought. Each checkmark is a step in the right direction for the functional ability of the child and should be celebrated. These activities can be more important than completing a particular page or reading that is done each day. Academics can be on the checklist, too, but addressing the root of the challenges a child faces is even more strategic. The list can quickly help you see where you need to focus more or just a reminder of progress, even if it may not be evident to others yet.

 

Plan for Interruptions

Checklists can be divided into two different lists. One list consists of the activities and/or academics you do with the child. We call it the Daily Parent/Child Conference list. The other list is the activities the child can do independently called My Responsibilities. These lists can keep you both focused and productive each day. When there is an interruption, you can say, “Work on your My Responsibility list while I do x, y, z.” This can keep the progress for the day going when those inevitable interruptions happen. The My Responsibility list can also give the child some say in their day. He/she can decide what gets done first, second, or third instead of someone else dictating every step, which is important for maturity and self-reliance. We often find that if the child has some say in what is happening, there is more compliance. Also, the My Responsibility list helps with accountability and motivation.

 

Life Skills Are Work, too!

Don’t be shy about documenting life skills like learning to wash hair, cooking, making a bed, or tying shoes. These may be just as important or even more strategic to your child’s future as anything else in the educational plan. If you document it, you will feel better about your time spent each day. You are making a difference!

 

For more information about a neurodevelopmental approach to homeschool: www.BrainSprints.com

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Consider supporting the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., M ND, SPED Homeschool Partner and  Board Vice-Chair

This month, we have featured articles about Individual Education Plans, or IEPs, for homeschool students. But what if your child still struggles with achieving goals? Do you think your child is capable of meeting their goals but he or she may have a mental block for retaining information? Maybe your child can say all the letter sounds but struggles to put them together when reading. Or does your child still struggle with handwriting goals? An INP may be your missing link to success.

So, what is in INP, and what is the difference between an IEP and an INP? An INP is an Individualized NeuroDevelopmental Plan. NeuroDevelopment (ND) has to do with the brain’s development in three strategic areas of input (getting information accurately into the child’s brain) through the auditory, visual, and tactile channels. We all process information through our senses of hearing, sight, and touch. The brain’s three areas of development for output are language, fine motor, and mobility (ability to move body parts in space, including coordination). To respond to our environment, our brains help us speak, write, and move. Why is this important? The brain controls everything we do, and if the input isn’t right, the output will not be satisfactory. The IEP focuses only on output, or specific performed ability, as the goal. The INP focuses on stimulating the brain to make the goal more easily achievable.

Let me give you an example. If the educational goal is to increase handwriting skills, the traditional approach is to have the student practice writing with specific verbal instruction or a visual example. But, what if the tactile pathway from the brain to the fingers is immature? What if the fingers are not getting the correct feedback from the brain to make the letters well? Or, what if the central detail vision is not fully developed or the eye-tracking and convergence are off, and the visual images are distorted as they are writing? All the practice in the world is not going to overcome these areas of incorrect information from the brain to help the handwriting.

Instead of focusing on the child’s performance, the emphasis should be the root cause(s) of the deficit. Here is where an INP can be very helpful. Allow me to give you an example from my own experience homeschooling my daughter that was developmentally-delayed. On my homeschool IEP, I had the goal of her reading phonetically past CVC words. Of course, a step toward that goal, in my mind, was the mastery of all the phonograms that make up larger words. We used a phonics program with 70 cards representing the sound(s) of each phonogram. My daughter mastered all the cards, even the phonogram with six sounds! But, she was rarely able to hold the sounds together to read beyond three-letter CVC words. 

The brain controls everything we do, and if the input isn’t right, the output will not be satisfactory..”

After getting her INP from a NeuroDevelopmentalist, I understood the additional developmental issues that held her back from reading with phonics. The first issue was her low auditory processing ability. Her processing (short-term memory) was so slow that it prevented the retention of the sounds to make a word after the laborious pronouncing of each phonogram. The second issue that caused reading to be a struggle was my daughter’s central vision had not developed well and, because of this, she kept skipping lines, words, or parts of words. Her INP addressed these areas of neurodevelopmental need. Her plan included eye-tracking activities, specific activities for developing the central vision, and lots of practice for her auditory short-term memory. By adding this input, along with other short, brain-stimulating sessions, she was able to read longer words, which would have been the goal on an IEP but able to be achieved through an INP. 

If you are interested in finding out if an INP (Individualized NeuroDevelopmental Plan) is right for your situation, call for a free personalized consultation  with a NeuroDevelopmental Specialist. Or, to see if low auditory or visual processing is an issue for your child, go to www.BrainSprints.com and scroll down to “Tools” to get the free processing test kits.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Consider supporting the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool

Donate Today