Tag Archives: special needs

Part 2: {Secret} signs of a cognitive weakness

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

This is part two in a four-part series on cognitive weaknesses. Comment on this post to be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card.

Kristen Thompson, brain training expert. Photo by Jen Harris Photography

Most parents and teachers know the typical warning signs of a learning problem: declining grades, apathy, noticeable shifts in mood. “But for many children, like Jenny (featured in part one of this series), the signs that something’s amiss are much more subtle,” shares LearningRx owner and former Cobb County, Georgia, teacher Kristen Thompson.

Here, Kristen shares some lesser-known telltales of cognitive weaknesses: 

  • Completing homework is a struggle and takes an inordinate amount of time.
  • Looking several times at something while copying is necessary.
  • Remembering and independently following multi-step directions is a challenge.
  • Solving math word problems causes frustration. (Math skills are directly connected to cognitive skills.)
  • Responding with, “I don’t get this!” or “What should I do first?” is common.
  • Reading comprehension is weak; the “big picture” is often missed.
  • At test-time, recalling facts and remembering what was studied is difficult.
  • Asking for things to be repeated is a regular occurrence.
  • The student’s sense of direction and map-reading skills are weak.
  • The ability to readily “get” jokes or understand others’ senses of humor seems hindered.
  • Jigsaw puzzles are avoided or deemed “too hard.”
  • Organization of materials and time is elusive.

“The good news, however, is that the brain can be trained to overcome any cognitive weaknesses that might be causing these behaviors,” shares Kristen.

The first step, according to Kristen, is identifying exactly which cognitive skills are being impacted by a weaknesses. For more information on each of these different cognitive areas, stay tuned for part three in this series.

Click here to take a quick online quiz to determine if your child is displaying these warning signs.

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Filed under Academic Success, brain training, cognitive weakness, Critical Thinking, Home Schooling, reluctant readers, School Readiness

Part 1: The {true} story of overcoming a cognitive weakness

by Suzanna Palmer 

This is part one in a four-part series on cognitive weaknesses.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! 

meet Jenny

Eight-year-old Jenny doesn’t fit the profile of a child with a learning disability. She receives high marks in school and praise from her teachers. She’s considered one of the smartest kids in her class and consistently scores in the 90th percentile on standardized tests. But last year, halfway through the second grade, Jenny became increasingly frustrated during afternoon homework sessions.

“Finishing assignments, especially math, would take a really long time,” recalls Jenny’s mother, Sherry. “As I explained things, she would say over and over, ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying.’”

To compensate for her struggle to learn new material, Jenny spent countless hours on homework each day, and as a result, continued to do well in school. But despite Jenny’s apparent success, Sherry had a feeling something was amiss: “I just knew in my gut something was wrong.”

Following her instincts, she had Jenny tested at a center called LearningRx that helps children overcome cognitive weaknesses. The tests revealed that Jenny did indeed have processing weaknesses that were impacting her ability to organize and recall information.

 a path of action

Over the next five months, Jenny participated in activities designed to retrain her brain to think and respond efficiently. The three weekly sessions, each an hour-and-a-half long, worked miracles. By the end of her training, Jenny’s cognitive test scores had improved by leaps and bounds—as had her ability to listen, remember and follow directions.

Although now-third-grader Jenny is finished with her training, she and her parents are still reaping the rewards. They no longer dread homework, and her mother reports that Jenny’s maturity level and relationships have also improved tremendously.

“There is a total difference in her personality,” Sherry concludes. “She is capable of understanding and remembering things we say to her. She’s not frustrated anymore. In a nutshell, LearningRx gave me my daughter back.”

 Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series: secret signs of a cognitive weakness (and how to identify them). 

Jenny’s success was found through the LearningRx. Call 770-529-4800 or visit www.learningrx.com/kennesaw for more information.

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Filed under Academic Success, brain training, cognitive weakness, Critical Thinking, Reading, reluctant readers, special needs

Learning Sign Language {3 great resources}

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 gift card from The School Box! 

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S.

I’ve been interested in sign language since as early as I can remember. As a highschooler I was in the sign language club, and the college I attended held free sign language classes every week, where I learned both basic and more advanced sign language words and concepts.

Although I took the classes more than 10 years ago, I still use my sign language skills at church and in my community. If you’re interested in learning sign language, pursue it! You’ll probably be surprised by how many opportunities you’ll find to use this ability once you have it.

Here are three great resources for learning and mastering sign language:

1. SigningFamilies.com

SigningFamilies.com offers lessons (for a small fee), as well as free video tutorials on YouTube. While the material is mostly geared toward children, adults can also benefit. DVD topics include teaching babies, toddlers and preschoolers sign language, as well as teaching sign language for emergency situations. Online classes include ASL (American Sign Language) basics, classes for kids, and adaptive sign language for people with special needs.

2. LifePrint.com

American Sign Language University on LifePrint.com teaches basic techniques like letters, common words and fingerspelling, as well as the importance of using body language and facial expressions when communicating with the hard-of-hearing. Bill Vicars, the facilitator of the course, also gives guidance on how to learn ASL even if you don’t interact much with the deaf community.

3. ASLPro.com

ASLPro.com offers free information for sign language teachers, and is specifically geared to be a classroom resource. Contents of the site include a main dictionary, a religious dictionary, conversational dictionary, as well as ways to teach ASL to babies.

These resources are a great starting point for learning sign language. I’d also encourage you to check with your local community center or church for class availability. Learning sign language is a lifelong skill you’ll always treasure.

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Filed under Academic Success, Service Learning, special needs