Month: January 2010


"Step right up folks! Our unproven, unsubstantiated therapy and treatment is guaranteed to cure all things bothering you about your child. That’s right for the low fee, special offer of $3,499 over the next year, we will cure bedwetting, ADHD, reading disabilities, and just plain child orneriness!!! All you have to do is plunk down your money (special 10% discount if paid in full up front) and bring your child in for treatment – twice a week over the year, and you will see results in all things child. We also have a special deal on this nutria-supplement that we offer at 60% off the retail price ($199) when you sign up for the therapy!!! This nutrio-supplement will get your child to stop bothering you at the dinner table and restaurants. It might even cure sibling rivalry! That’s right folks. Step right up!!!!!!"

It seems that every five years or so there is a hot new treatment on the market that is guaranteed to cure ADHD, dyslexia, behavior issues and other child issues of concern. I have known parents to spend thousands of dollars for an unproven therapy, only to have the child left in the same place he/she was in when the therapy started.

Many of these therapies make no common sense and have little legitimate research support. In addition they often present an indirect approach to address the problem.

Two recent articles article from Great Schools (www.greatschools.orgelaborates on this topic of unproven therapies:

Be very wary of approaches that are not a close match between your area of concern and what is being targeted in the treatment. Decide what you are targeting and find people experienced in addressing the area of concern.

I tend to think about sports metaphors when explaining this issue and advising parents. If you want to help your child with hitting a baseball, then bring him to a good baseball instructor to work on the skill. If someone told you to have the child swim for a year to become a better baseball player, would that make common sense? Of course not.

Too often approaches offered lack common sense and they are not targeting the area of concern adequately. Yet the person or business trying to sell the program will convince you to part with your money to cure everything.

Be careful before you try and cure all things child!  Don’t be so quick to sign up for the cure!

Tag: Learning disabilities, reading disabilities, child behavior treatments, child therapy



Clogged Fuel Lines and ADHD

By its nature, school places a certain demand on the child throughout the day. Most children throughout their day typically face a number of tasks that they find challenging and difficult to manage. When faced with such challenges many will work through their difficulty to arrive at solutions and complete the tasks before them.

What about the kids who are the concerns of these blogs – the shut-down learner types who have ADHD tendencies?

 They aren’t working through their challenges so readily!

One of the biggest issues facing these kids is the issue of “sustained mental effort.”  Put another way, these kids have clogged fuel lines for  completing difficult tasks!  They simply don’t have enough “juice’ to get them through their difficulty.

Take Hannah, age 9.  By description, Hannah is a very affectionate, loving child who tries to be helpful. At the same time, she is quite impulsive and unable to manage tasks that require sustained mental effort.

When I start to work with Hannah, I see very quickly that she has a “clogged fuel line” for task difficulty. After two minutes into a task she’s start whining, “Do we have to do the whole page…I have to go the bathroom.”   Rolling around on the desk, dropping her pencil on the floor repeatedly whenever she faced the slightest difficulty, Hannah had virtually no capacity to manage frustration. 

There are no easy solutions for “clogged fuel lines.”  Medication can be helpful, but many parents are reluctant to go that route.  Trying to provide enough structure and incentive may also be helpful.  Joining the kid and acknowledging her feelings about the task can also reduce the building emotional resistance building.  At home, you might try something like, “Hannah.  I know you hate this activity, but I’d like you to give it a shot.  I’ll set this clock. We won’t do more than 15 minutes.”

Ultimately, a certain amount of realism is required.  Knowing the nature of your kid and understanding that this issue of “clogged fuel lines” is part of the child’s make-up is better than getting upset with her.  Try working in small steps, increasing a little at a time.  Keep the teacher in the loop as to what you are trying to accomplish so the teacher knows what you are trying to accomplish.

Any ideas are welcome.  I will be sure and post them if you respond.

Tag:  ADHD,  Learning Disabilties,  Shut-Down Learners



Many shut-down learner kids, have great trouble with different facets of language that we often take for granted.

Take Emma, age 8.  The other night, Emma was told by her mother that her father was “tied up in traffic.”  Emma burst into tears.  “Why is daddy being tied up,” she sobbed.

It took her mother some time to explain to Emma that her father wasn’t literally being tied up and that it was an expression commonly used when people are stuck in traffic.

So many kids have difficulty with the subtle and not so subtle aspects of language.  They can be easily overloaded with too many words hitting them with no place to store such words and language in their mental closet. 

We use language very freely and quite often it is just washing over the kid’s head.

Is it any wonder that so many shut-down learner style kids appear distracted and zoned out in class?

So, if your child is not steering her boat or is wandering in the desert aimlessly or spinning her wheels in the mud, perhaps you need to back up and check out your language !!!!!

Perhaps you are using too many metaphors!


A Disconnect in #Dyslexia Land

Young Jack, age 14, a sweet boy who has very significant learning disabilities, couldn’t tell you how much a quarter, dime and a nickel totaled. Yet his mother brought in worksheets showing me that he was being asked to multiply negative numbers such as the following, which were taken from a recent homework assignment:

5 x -2 x -4 = ?

-3 x 3 x -2 = ?


Isn’t there a disconnect here?

Jack also did not know the days of the week in sequence or the names of the months. Wouldn’t it be better to help Jack learn what day came after Tuesday, rather than worry about negative numbers!!!!!

Jack reads (at best) on a second to low third grade level.  On another worksheet he was being asked to handle words on a vocabulary worksheet, such as:  heredity, prioritize, and personality.


Jack could no sooner read or understand those words, than I can do calculus at this point (or ever).

I am at a loss when I look at worksheets that show a significant mismatch between the child’s skill level and the demand of the task. Jack was in way over his head with the material that the mother showed me.  Yet, this is what he faces every day.
Why give kids stuff they can’t handle?  What’s the gain?  What’s the point?

Somebody help me out.  What am I missing?

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