Archive for December, 2010
Little Giant Stepswants to thank all of you who have been faithful in following our posts this past year. It is true, we are here to serve those who have trouble with academics, memory, and feeling confident about their abilities to learn and perform like others you know. It is our privilege to have served a population for almost 20 years who deserve to and can be set free from anxiety due to neuro-inefficiency. Folks, being unable to perform due to learning issues is not a life sentence. We know most cases are a matter of having been raised in an environment that didn’t allow you to complete all the stages of development that set the stage for academic achievement. The good news is that you are never too old to rectify the deficits and improve your ability to function mentally, socially and emotionally. There is nothing as good as success. So, before you go too far thinking 2011 will not be much of an improvement in your level of confidence about what you CAN do, read these stories, then make a commitment to yourself for either your sake or your child’s and seek new information and programs that can change the course of your or your child’s life! Now, go have a great New Year! God bless you and your family.
Written by Jan Bedell, M.Ed., M.ND, Certified Neuro-Educational Specialist
Visual processing is visual short-term memory – what goes in through the visual channel to the brain and right back out. This vital skill picks up information from the environment which then has an opportunity to be stored in long term memory. Scarcity of visual processing ability can require a child to use other channels (auditory or tactile) to bring in information which may not be the most efficient. More about efficient input of information in a future tip of the month.
A preschool child with deficits in visual processing, experiences difficulty remembering numbers, letters and words. For more information about this important skill see Teaching Babies by Kay Ness in the articles section of our website.
An older child with inefficiencies in this area could have difficulty in just about everything: math, spelling, reading, visual attention, picking up visual information and eye contact. The good news is that you can help your child with this weakness in just 2 two-minute sessions a day!
There are several different ways to work on visual processing. One is with digit cards (child must be able to easily recognize number 0-9). Full instructions are available in our free visual processing test kit. Access this kit by going to our website or by email: email@example.com (put “visual test kit” in the subject line). If your child doesn’t recognize numerals, ask for the “Visual Tiny Tot kit”.
So that you have a reference point, a one year old should be able to hold one piece of visual information, a two-year-old, two; a three-year-old, three, etc., up to seven. Seven is minimum for a child 7 years of age or older. The better a child processes; the more readily information is absorbed. The more you work on developing this skill, the more information your child will pick up from his environment. When proficient, his sponge-like ability to pick up visual information will amaze you! www.littlegiantsteps.com
ND Tip: The Tactile System and the Brain
In Kindergarten, we learn about the five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. As parents and home educators, we must be keenly aware of these senses as they are the inroads to the brain. These senses build pathways in our central nervous system, which keep many of our intricate systems running.
The largest and possibly the most influential sense organ is the skin. The skin has tactile receptors for both light touch and deep touch. The brain’s organization at this critical level affects many abilities in life including: pattern of movement, coordination, special awareness, pencil grasp and much, much more.
Why do you think summer babies develop more quickly than winter babies? Summer babies have more skin exposed! Since an infant’s central nervous system is just a step above a comma at birth, they need intense stimulation of their sensory system. For example, when a babies lies down on carpet, the brain receives information about soft and warm; while lying on tile, the brain receives information about cold and hard and surface irregularities; lying on linoleum or laminate provides cool and smooth sensations; and lying skin to skin provides warmth and comforting touch sensations.
“What?” you may be saying “Put my little bundle on the floor?!” Yes, this is exactly what leading professionals in the field of neurodevelopment are saying; put the child on the floor so the brain can receive the stimulation in needs for proper development during their waking hours.
The following symptoms can occur from an immature tactile system:
- Irritated by tags in clothing, seems in socks, wearing shoes, etc.
- Clothing must be worn either really tight or very loose
- Overly sensitive to textures of clothing and/or food
- Unusually rough when playing with friends
- Avoids being hugged, kissed or even touched
- Gets into other people’s “personal space”
- Clumsy, bumps into things
These tactile sensitivities can cause distractibility, attention problems, and an inability to stay on task, which are included on the ADD/ADHD checklist. These tactile inefficiencies can be addressed and eliminated through the Neurodevelopmental Approach.
The good news is that these symptoms can be treated, even in older children and adults. One activity that helps to build the roadways in our tactile system associated with deep sensation is an activity we call, Deep Pressure. Just as we intuitively play “this little piggy…” with an infant’s toes; Deep Pressure is designed to give enough deep touch input to the brain in order to normalize these sensations.
Deep Pressure should be done for 4 minutes, twice a day, for 6 to 8 months. You should press up to the point of pain, starting with the tips of the fingers and working up the arms to the shoulders. Then, press on the toes and work up the leg to just past the knee.
Tactile Stimulation is another activity that helps to normalize hyper sensitivity to touch. Use several pieces of rough and smooth textures like burlap, corduroy, silk, satin, cotton, etc. Gently rub all four limbs for 20 seconds with one of the rough textures and then 20 seconds each with a smooth texture. Do this twice a day for 6 to 8 months and these sensitivities will begin to diminish and most likely disappear completely.
By Jan Bedell, M.Ed., M.ND (Certified Neuro-Educational Specialist)
Each of us is born with tremendous potential. A well functioning tactile system is imperative for receiving information and taking that potential to the next level, which will then be transmitted into producing intentional movement (crawling, walking, running, etc.). Movement makes “memories” which causes the circuitry that releases intelligence. There is tremendous brain growth in the early years and unless the brain cells are connected through neuropathways that are built early, they can be lost. It is a use it or lose it scenario. Early development is like building a house, you have to have a good foundation in order for everything else to function properly. The good news for an older individual is that even if these pathways are immature or incomplete, they can be rebuilt with proper stimulation.
In recent decades, our society has become very mobile; with most families having two cars and the convenience of air travel, society as a whole is living farther and farther away from extended family members. Neurodevelopmentalists believe this separation from the extended family has caused many erroneous beliefs about child rearing to emerge.
MYTH #1: Babies should be on a blanket if placed on the floor.
TRUTH: The tactile input to the brain would be limited by the blanket. In addition to that, have you ever seen an infant try to crawl (tummy on floor) while lying on top of a blanket? They just get all tangled up and frustrated because they can’t get anywhere.
MYTH #2: Infant seats are a necessity! When an infant is sitting in an infant seat, they somehow seem more human; i.e., it is easier to see their faces and for them to see you and they seem happier.
TRUTH: The best place for an infant is on their tummy on the floor during their waking hours. ON the floor in a prone position (on the tummy) is where they build the muscles for sitting alone and walking.
MYTH #3: Walkers are a great way to prepare the child for walking alone.
TRUTH: If a child does not go through the stages of tummy crawl and creeping on hands and knees for a long enough period of time, a ripple of adverse effects will occur. Gross motor coordination, organizational abilities and eye-hand coordination are just a few of the areas that could be adversely affected.
MYTH #4: The more gadgets, i.e. Johnny jump ups, fancy walkers, play pens, etc., I put my child in the better.
TRUTH: The more time a child spends in these gadgets, the less time the child spends on the floor, which means less opportunity for the brain to be organized at the lower levels. Lower level development is the foundation upon which all other development is built.
I encourage you to get your infants out of these gadgets and put them on the floor for lots of tummy time. Next month we will explore what to do if your older child missed these essential developmental stages.
Author: Jan Bedell, M.Ed, Master level Neuro-Educational Specialist
It seems reasonable to NDs (Neuro-educational specialists) that dyslexia actually results from a combination of several different inefficiencies. They would suggest that each case of dyslexia has a unique set of causes that needs to be addressed by looking at individual situations. This involves a global look at the child and specific activities based on the findings, in each case, treating the root causes. They look at the whole child and focus on the causes instead of the symptoms!
When you hear “The ND (Neurodevelopmental) Approach” think “neuro-plasticity,” the brain’s natural ability to change and modify itself in response to changes in or enrichment of the environment (Ratey, 2001 p. 167) (See article online.) Plasticity is present as long as a person lives, otherwise stroke victims would have no hope of regaining function. ND is the study of the brain’s plasticity to make advancements regardless of the current condition of the person with an understanding that abilities can be enhanced with brain stimulating activities when applied with the keys of frequency, intensity, and short duration over a specified period of time. (See related article online.) NDs believe that these three keys to input, used in the stimulation of an individual’s auditory, visual, tactile, manual, language and mobility systems, are the solution to causing low or non-functioning parts of the brain to gain function thus reducing dyslexic symptoms.
This unique approach relies on creating the right environment for the brain to essentially heal the faulty wiring which causes dyslexic symptoms. Theoretically, the ND Approach establishes learning difficulties as symptoms of incomplete development and inefficient communication between brain and body. For instance, if an infant is not allowed to move from the stages of random movement into more specific coordinated movement and experience cross patterning activities gained through normal progression of crawling and creeping, the organization of the brain will be left in an incomplete state. A surprising 75% of students with diagnosed learning difficulties never crawled (Corso, 1997). Crawling even promotes a new level of brain organization, as indicated by more organized EEG brain-wave activity in the cerebral cortex.
Other Key Elements
NDs are keenly aware of the auditory system and the important role that it plays in the acquisition of reading skills. Auditory memory refers to the ability to take in pieces of information, hold them in your mind and manipulate them in the short-term (Ness, K. 1999). There is an understanding that language skills such as speech, reading, writing, and spelling develop only if the child has learned to “listen” (Goddard, 2002 p. 106). The auditory system is a major aspect of phonology. All auditory deficits negatively affect phonological processing which would explain why many dyslexics make slow or minimal progress from phonetic instruction while others benefit greatly. Phonics being an auditory system requires decoding and holding sounds together to achieve words. It would follow that the better an individual’s auditory processing ability, the easier it would be to utilize phonics. However, developing auditory skills is a challenge in a society which has become primarily visual Developing advanced auditory processing is highly recommended by NDs! It enhances the ability to decode unknown words as well as increasing reading comprehension. When low auditory processing exists, a different reading strategy is required until the auditory deficit can be remediated.
NDs also agree with prominent researchers in learning disability history who noted issues with the visual system of dyslexics from eye-hand coordination to tracking and teaming, to central detail vision issues, etc. The visual system does not act alone but relies on the vestibular and proprioceptive systems for accurate information, confirming the ND approach i.e. an individual is an integrated whole with different systems interacting and affecting each other. Eye dominance (a subject too extensive for discussion here, see “Learning Disability” article online) has proven a key factor in correction of dyslexic symptoms. Orton (1938/1989), said that “eyedness… is not so widely recognized as handedness, but it is probably of equal importance” (p. 30). NDs have found that when eye dominance coordinates with the dominant hand and additional inefficiencies are addressed, dyslexic symptoms diminish and often disappear entirely. Refer to a bar graph, which shows the percentage of individuals (personal clients labeled as dyslexic by other professionals) that had mixed dominance as well as low auditory and visual sequential processing.
Despite enhanced buildings, longer school calendars, better teacher training, advanced methods and curriculum, home schooling or other one-on-one or tutoring type interventions, the percentage of students with reading disabilities still persists and even grows each year. In the author’s opinion it is time for a paradigm shift! It is time to take a fresh new look at these challenges through the lenses of the latest brain research in cognitive neuroscience! When specific activities are done each day to address the root causes of dyslexia, functional ability is realized! When the brain can function more efficiently, the symptoms of dyslexia are rare. This has been the experience of individuals using the ND Approach.
A complete list of references and related articles can be found online at www.littlegiantsteps.com– articles – Dyslexia, The Neurodevelopment Approach
By Jan Bedell, M.Ed. M.ND, Certified Neuro-Educational Specialist ~ Little Giant Steps
In the previous article, we talked about the Quick Flash Method. After you have used this method and your child has read through the Dick and Jane, or similar, books, your child will be ready to read other books using the following method:
- parent reads one paragraph,
- child reads that same paragraph,
- parent reads next paragraph,
- child reads that same paragraph, etc.
In order to ensure the child is following along while you are read, pause every once in a while before reading a word you know he knows and let him say the word. Also, while the child is reading, don’t listen to him struggle to sound out a word, just tell him the word. You will find the child’s confidence begin to grow.
Don’t forget to work on auditory processing in the mean time. You can order a booklet on Auditory Processing online at www.littlegiantsteps.com. When your child reaches an auditory processing level (digit span) of 6, you can add phonics back into his curriculum with a lot more success and a lot less frustration.
By Jan Bedell, M.Ed., Certified Neuro-Educational Specialist ~ Little Giant Steps
What is the secret to motivating children to do anything? They must feel a sense of accomplishment, that they are progressing, and that they are successful in their endeavors. How do you promote these feelings in your children when they are struggling with their schoolwork and they hate math, hate reading, hate writing, etc? Here are some tips on how to motivate your children to want to learn to read…
Some children have had a negative experience with the phonics approach to reading. This is often due to poor auditory processing. One way to build confidence in reading is by using the Quick Flash Method. You can use flash cards with common words or there are computer programs that teach common words on our website. The object is to use the flash card to produce a quick, intense input to the brain using 8 to 10 words at a time for a short 1-2 minute session. This session should be almost 100% input – you will tell the child the word every time it is flashed up in front of him, not ask him to output (say) what he doesn’t know.
After just one week of this kind of input twice a day, find a book in which these 8-10 words are used often. ”Days Go By” books are a good example where the same words are used repetitively. Highlight in the book, everywhere the 8-10 words you have been flashing appear. Then read the pages to the child, pausing so the child can read the highlighted words.
Many parents have found that a child’s self esteem is greatly enhanced when they go from struggling to sound out every word, to reading quickly through the Days Go By books. Don’t worry, they will be able to learn their phonics later and they will have the best of both worlds; a good sight word vocabulary and phonic utilization when their auditory processing comes up. www.littlegiantsteps.com
Suggested help in reading: Detailed Reading Comprehension (pg 2)
Tip of the Month: A Word about Phonics
By Jan Bedell, M.Ed., Certified Neuro-Educational Specialist, of Little Giant Steps
Phonics is an auditory learning system; in other words, the child has to hold all the pieces of auditory information together long enough to get the word out of his brain. For many children, this is not a problem, but if a child has low auditory processing (refer to last months newsletter for more details) then phonics can be a nightmare for parents and children. Many a mom has doubted her ability to teach when her child is not responding to the phonetic approach.
Auditory short term memory deficits cause these symptoms:
- When using phonics with multi-syllable words or more than 6 letters, they get lost by the time they get to the end of the word.
- They may sound out the first 3 or 4 letters and guess at the end.
- They may get to the end of the word and have to guess because they’ve forgotten the beginning of the word.
- They have trouble following directions.
If your child has these symptoms take heart – The brain is ever changing and has an incredible amount of plasticity. Frequent, intense stimulation over a period of time can produce and grow connections, which can produce normal function and eliminate adverse symptoms. So, take a break from Phonics and concentrate on making sure you get in those auditory digit span activities twice a day for 2 minutes, 5 times a week. You can get a free auditory test kit .
What do I do if my child is not learning to read with phonics?
- Don’t panic!
- Don’t buy another phonics program!
- DO get a FREE auditory test kit (child should have a strong 5 digit span before phonics will be effective)
- DO auditory processing building activities.
- DO read to the child with them following word by word and have them read the same sentence or paragraph immediately after you. (Echo reading)
- DON’T make him struggle; tell him the words he doesn’t know.
- DO read to your children an hour a day (builds auditory processing).
- DO have books on tape as a regular part of their day (builds auditory processing)
- Don’t be concerned that they are “memorizing” words.
- DO be patient – when auditory processing improves, phonics will be successful.
- DO understand with this approach, they will have the best of both worlds – sight and phonics.
We instruct our parents to take a break from Phonics until their child’s digit span advances past 5. One home school mom who’s previous experience with teaching with phonics was not successful, wrote:
“Drew has begun sounding out words! I honestly don’t know where this has come from other than the Neuro-Educational Program we are currently doing with him. I have done NO phonics per our last discussion when you instructed me to stop. It is so neat to see and hear him sounding out words. He is not doing it perfectly but the interest and desire is there and now the information has appeared like magic. I am very encouraged about this.” T. B. in Cypress
Three other items to assist you:
1. Auitory Process Booklet: “What Every Parent Should Know About Auditory Processing”
2. Digit Span Decks: An interactive (low tech) way to increase auditory processing skills.
3. Sequencing In A Flash: An interactive computer program has both auditory and visual processing, plus tracking capability.
Sometimes the holiday season is so full of “busyness” we can easily overlook those within our family who are silently struggling and feeling alone. We, at LGS, are very aware of those who try to communicate, solve problems, remember information and daily suffer minor failure of trying and never able to make things come out right. We have observed children, teens and adults who have struggled daily, and also know that when taken into account over a sustained period of time, has silenced them. Many feel isolated and alone.
Little Giant Steps offers a promise of a better life experience when it comes to improving academics, short term memory, processing and comprehension of information. We’ve worked with thousands of children and families over the past two decades. We know that with intervention through our Neuro-Educational Programs and Professional Evaluations a new world of success and self-confidence can develop right before your eyes, regardless of age or I.Q.
If you desire to see a change in your, your child’s or even your parent’s future, and want to know what it is like to no longer be alone in the forest of life, then please read our free articles on our website. Investigate how those who made the decision to make their lives better have achieved greater success than they dreamed possible.
If you need information on specific areas, please click on these links: Testing / Evaluations
3. Children Who Are Smart But Struggling (Home Program)
4. Adult Memory & Brain Training (Home Program
We hope for a very Merry Christmas Season for you and those you love.