Frequently Asked Questions From Parents- Part One

By Anne R. Fenske; Center Director of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes in Englewood
Posted

Everyday, the Lindamood-Bell® Learning Center receives phone calls or talks face to face with the parents of potential or current students. These parents all have at least two things in common. They want to help their child be the best that he can be, and they are looking for help. Our goal is to help all individuals reach their potential. Although our instruction is individualized, it embodies an interactive, balanced approach. It is our belief that with the right instruction, students become self-correcting and independent learners. The following is Part One of a Two Part series on some of the most common questions we are asked, and their corresponding answers.

My son was diagnosed with (ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, CAPD, ASD, etc.) and I don’t know what to do. Can you help?

Yes, we can. In our Learning Centers we often see children and adults previously diagnosed with these and other disorders or learning disabilities. It is important to note that we, at Lindamood-Bell, do not make these diagnoses —many of our students have been previously diagnosed by a third party medical professional. Instead of assessing for classification, we assess for the proper instructional solution. 

My child can read, but I don’t think he understands what he reads. How can this be?

A primary cause of language comprehension problems is difficulty creating an imaged gestalt—a whole. This is called weak concept imagery. This weakness causes an individual to only get "parts," such as a few facts or details, rather than the whole picture.

Individuals with weak concept imagery have difficulty with reading comprehension, critical thinking, following directions or connecting to conversations, and may also have a hard time expressing ideas in an organized manner. An extreme example of this may be a student diagnosed with Hyperlexia, high-functioning autism, or Asperger's—these students read well but have a very difficult time comprehending language. 

Individuals of all ages may experience the symptoms of an undiagnosed and untreated concept imagery dysfunction. They may have to reread material several times and often remember only a few details rather than the "whole." They may seem shy and have difficulty organizing their language or they may be talkative but scattered, relating information out of sequence. They connect to only part of a conversation and have difficulty responding relevantly and thinking logically. They may ask and re-ask the same question and are labeled "poor listener." Their writing is often described as unorganized and nonspecific. 

My child is reading at grade level, but really struggling with math. Can your programs help?

Yes, they can. A primary cause of math difficulties is an inability to image and verbalize the concepts underlying math processes. Individuals attempt to memorize facts instead of being able to think, reason, and problem solve with numbers. If your child is having difficulty learning math facts (i.e., multiplication tables), grasping mathematical relationships, solving word problems, or higher math, we have a math program that successfully stimulates the ability to image and verbalize the concepts underlying math processes. Concept and numeral imagery are integrated with language and applied to math computation and problem solving. There is emphasis on both mathematical reasoning and mathematical computation. Individuals of all ages learn to do and enjoy math.

Why can’t my child follow oral (or written) directions?

The ability to follow directions relies on the ability to comprehend and process language. Not only do individuals need to understand the directions, they also need to process the “whole” of the task. A primary cause of language comprehension problems is difficulty creating an imaged gestalt —a whole. This is called weak concept imagery. This weakness causes individuals to only get "parts," such as one or two of the directions, most likely out of order.

Individuals with weak concept imagery may not easily follow directions or connect to conversations. In addition, they may have difficulty expressing ideas in an organized manner. They can also have difficulty with reading comprehension and critical thinking. 

My child is making progress, but is falling further and further behind. Will he ever be able to catch up?

We know that weakness in sensory-cognitive functions underlies weakness in language and literacy skills. Weak language and literacy skills are the primary cause of failure to make one year of gain for one year of instruction (approximately 36 weeks). Although a student makes progress, the progress made must be compared to the ultimate “catch up” goal. For example, your child is in 3rd grade and he is 1 year behind—so reading approximately at the 2nd grade level. He spends the year catching up to the 3rd grade level, but by the end of the year he is going into 4th grade, so he is still a year behind. In order to change that trajectory, research shows that an individual requires intensive intervention to “close the gap.” The diagnostic evaluation your son will complete shows where his processing is compared to other students his age. The initial recommendation we make for instruction is what your specific child needs to start closing the gap in his processing, which provides the skills needed to keep up with his school content.

My child is in High School now. Is it too late to get help?

Not at all! We often work with high school and college students, as well as adults out in the working world, and see phenomenal results. It is a common misconception that after a certain age the brain is not able to change. Current brain research proves that this is incorrect—this research has shown that the adult brain is still elastic and new neural pathways can be made and sustained. 

My child has gone through other programs and Summer School and s/he still can’t read.  What makes your program different than the others out there?

Many programs/curriculum may successfully teach the mechanics of reading but they only exercise the underlying processes the student comes in with. Our instruction focuses on developing these underlying processes necessary to read, comprehend, and process information.   First, we assess each individual’s ability to process sounds, picture letters, and picture concepts/language. Then we recommend and employ a specific, differentiated, instructional plan to develop his/her weak areas of processing. 

What is the difference between what my child is doing at school (during pull-out) and the instruction my child would receive at Lindamood-Bell?

What students receive at school is content-based. Content-based approaches use the subject matter as a vehicle for learning. The instruction we provide at Lindamood-Bell is process-based.  A process-based approach focuses on the underlying processes necessary to read, comprehend, and process information, regardless of content area.

Our method is process-based, changing the way that one learns to read words and process information. The ability to process language is a prerequisite to learning content.  Specifically, the ability to decode, the ability to retain sight words, the ability to spell, the ability to comprehend written and oral language, and the ability to think critically are all necessary for success in content areas. Students can successfully learn content when they can read and comprehend efficiently. Simply put, the goal of reading is to get meaning.

My child is getting special help (IEP, tutoring, parents helping at home) but he never gets independent enough to do grade-level work. What makes your program different from traditional tutoring?

Traditional tutoring typically offers students help with homework in specific content areas such as math or science. Our instruction focuses on developing the underlying processes necessary to read, comprehend, and process information regardless of content area. Often a person is struggling because their brain does not take in information and process it efficiently. Weaknesses in the underlying sensory-cognitive processes can negatively impact performance at school or work.