SimplyBrainy » Dysperception: of leaky tubs and learning problems.

Dysperception: of leaky tubs and learning problems.

dysperceptionHow well can you type with mittens on?

How well can you run with a shoe that’s broken in some way?

How well can you hear with earmuffs on?

Certainly you would not be totally helpless in any of the above situations, but you’d look pretty funny and you wouldn’t do very well. Now – if the mittens or broken shoe or earmuffs were invisible, then you might start getting some critical – perhaps very critical – comments: “unmotivated,” “uncoordinated,” “Careless,” and perhaps even that all-purpose four-letter educational label and swearword: “Lazy!”

When a leaky tub can’t hold water very well or for very long, you blame the tub, right? Of course not. Or, you call it unmotivated: “You don’t want to hold water!” (How silly, tubs are always designed to hold water.) In the same way, the human brain is designed—its very nature is—to learn. It is built to sort, order, and sequence information and to act upon it as necessary. The problem is with any “leaks.” They need to be found and then they can be fixed almost as good as new. A major problem with perceptual problems is that they are indeed invisible, and kids who are smart in so many ways act in puzzling—almost willful—ways when they are actually trying very hard to perform well. That often leads to conflict and emotional distress.

To digress: in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s there arose a great movement in education aimed at identifying learning skills deficits and fixing them by targeting them with appropriate activities. Problems rose almost immediately. Tons of publishers and every Tom, Dick, and Harriet in education jumped on the bandwagon. Many of the programs that were developed and published weren’t tremendously meaningful. Therefore, they didn’t get results. On the other hand, some of them like the Perceptual Skills Curriculum, published by Walker Educational Books, were extremely well researched and were proven to transfer over into classroom skills.

In her 5th edition of her diamond-in-the-rough text Learning Disabilities, Dr. Janet Lerner pointed to about 200 studies that were done on remediating learning skills deficits.(perceptual skills programs) and noted the great variability of the results: some very good, some quite the opposite. Her conclusion? — the technique of remediating learning skills was “controversial.” Yet, teaching to the strengths, the most common strategy in education—to this day—had not even ONE positive outcome, as reported in a metastudy of 15 smaller studies that she found. What to do? Dr. Lerner didn’t say, but the rest of her book focused in intervention strategies that resembled the perceptual-motor programs that were “controversial.” How about combining the strategies, you ask—as did I—well, nobody has studied that approach. Apparently no one ever thought of studying the common threads that might link the most successful remedial programs to see what it was that was the effective common component(s) of them all. They have thrown out the baby with the bath water.

Dysperception, the inability to effectively or efficiently get sensory information from our environment and to then respond appropriately has been addressed here at The Learning Clinic since the late ‘60’s with excellent results, unmatched by any other known program or tutoring service. We identify the strength and dysfunctional areas and suggest strategies to the school for teaching to the strengths, and then design a treatment program based upon the PSC and the best, most meaningful visual therapy techniques available. Not only the changes in academic performance, but also the often-dramatic emotional responses of the children are some of the most rewarding aspects of our program, mute testimony to the power of the solutions that we are applying.

There are no greatly logical reasons why perceptual therapies are not included in preschool and elementary school curricula, in the way that the PSC was originally meant to be included. The solution to learning difficulties here at The Learning Clinic lies in looking back to the researched methods that worked in the past and then applying these to the future.

May we help you?

Learning problems are virtually never academic problems. They are mostly neurodevelopmental in nature and, as such, they are remediable.

© 2011 Merrill D. Bowan, O.D. All rights reserved

Website Lillicotch.com

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