Cognitive Training – A Positive Approach to Learning Disabilities

Our children are under enormous pressure to perform in school based on predetermined benchmarks or goals. The comparison of a child with the majority of his or her peers seems a necessary evil in the school system – to determine success or failure. Students are considered successful when their grades and performance are on the same level or above that of their contemporaries. It would be wonderful if there was more wiggle room and children could work at their own pace, some slower and some faster, but in most school settings this is seldom possible. Teachers must give grade students based on majority performance. Those who fall short of these established guidelines are labeled slow learners or learning disabled. Thousands of parents each year are told their child has a learning problem or disability; although, the majority of these children will test normal or above normal on IQ tests.

Many children with problems are receiving extra help through tutoring or have been placed in special education classes, as well as, being placed on medication. Often, these remedies are not producing the permanent results that parents and teachers had expected. Time is enemy for these children who are struggling and discouraged. Each day millions of parents are told their child has a learning disability. Learning disabilities usually consist of two or more of the following problems:

lack of attention and concentration
makes careless mistakes
slow finishing work
slow processing speed
long and short-term memory problems
works extra hard to keep up with everyone else
shows signs of depression, discouragement and lack of self-esteem
seem disinterested in school
will not try anymore.
shows signs of Dyslexia, ADD or ADHD

These are only a few of the debilitating problems of a child with a learning disability. The questions about this subject are haunting parents and teachers alike. Why are some children performing below their potential? Why does one child, with the same IQ and background as another, read and comprehend material faster than another; or why does one child make good grades on tests and finishes with time to spare, while another child knows the answers but fails because he or she cannot finish the test within the time limit? Inevitably, these problems get worse with time; with confidence and self-esteem issues mounting with each academic failure.

To be successful in school, a child must be able to learn information swiftly and accurately, and be able to retain and recall the information. In short, a child must process information fast and efficiently. Fully developed cognitive skills are at the core of this ability to process information. Cognitive abilities determine how well we can perform mental, visual, and physical tasks. For example, the amount of time it takes for our eye to scan a line of print in a book, how fast and accurately we comprehend the information we read, how well we can recall information for taking a test, or how well we can follow instructions, are all cognitive related functions. A student may know all the words in a book, but to read fast and comprehend the information requires good cognitive ability. Slow processing can cause a child to fail an assignment even though he or she knows the answers because there is a time limit. Some children lean on good cognitive skills to compensate for poor ones, such as taking copious notes because memory or visualization skills are poor. The ability to follow steps and directions in sequence, problem solving, as well as logic and reasoning skills are all cognitive related skills and abilities.

Much like a weight lifter increases in strength and muscle capacity through weight training; cognitive training increases the brain’s ability and capacity to learn through intense training, in a short period of time. As more and more information is relegated or forced to the subconscious or automatic level of learning through intense training: a child’s learning capacity expands and the ability to absorb information quickly and accurately increases. Visual and mental processing, long and short term memory, visualization and visual memory, concentration, simultaneous and sequential processing, as well as logic and reasoning skills are enhanced and developed through cognitive training.

One-on-one individualized cognitive training yields dramatic and permanent results in a short period of time. Children are able to work at their own pace and the nature of the program produces self-motivation. The competition for the child is in the race to exceed the goal accomplished in the last session. Confidence grows as each session brings a measure of success. Cognitive training is beneficial for any student; but, the results are especially dramatic for children who have a learning disability. Most children will exceed the standard grade norm 2 years or more after training. With faster visual and mental processing speed, enhanced memory and visualization skills, and the other cognitive related skills working at optimum speed; a child can tackle any academic subject and succeed!