Right Environment Helps Grades, Confidence Soar
By Susan Paff
At 13 years old, Elise Mote was a sharp, determined, self-motivated young girl. The painful truth however was that those assets, without academic success, guaranteed frustration. Happy and successful now, Elise was definitely living the formula for stress- pressure to perform minus the skills to achieve.
“Elise is a bright girl but learns differently, and the typical school environment was not able to accommodate her educational needs fully,” said Beverley Mote, Elise’s mom. “She was not able to be as successful or achieve her potential in the typical school environment.”
Elise’s inability to meet her own high standards caused her extreme anxiety, which only heightened her struggles at school. As they watched her grades and self-esteem drop, Elise’s parents knew they had to find another way for Elise to learn. The answer: individualized attention with a structured learning plan at Total Learning Centers.
Elise was previously diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disability and a specific math disability so she did have learning support in public school for reading and math. But Beverley says most of the teachers in the public school system were not equipped with the tools to deal with Elise’s situation.
“Elise has a nonverbal learning disability that inhibits her learning and affects all areas of her executive functioning skills, and most teachers in the school system are not aware of how much executive functioning impacts all aspects of school,” Beverley said. “Certainly the general education teachers at school don’t know all the ramifications of a nonverbal learning disability.”
Remediation for Executive Functioning Deficit issues is relatively difficult, but brain-based learning and cognitive enhancement programs can increase skills such as auditory processing, visual discrimination, processing speed, phonological awareness, planning, sequencing, attention to detail, memory, etc. By increasing a child’s functioning in any cognitive skill area, overall level of academic achievement can be enhanced. These programs are often overlooked when developing an educational program, yet the gains made through these programs can create significant advances across all academic subjects.
Executive Functioning Deficit (EF), has been defined as the ability to maintain an appropriate problem solving set for attainment of a future goal and that this ability includes the more specific skills of inhibition, planning, and mental representation.
Behaviors that can be observed (or reported) in the clinical setting that might indicate an EF deficit that should be assessed by standardized testing include, but are not limited to poor organization, planning, or strategy use; concrete thinking; lack of inhibition; difficulty grasping cause and effect; inability to delay gratification; difficulty following multistep directions; difficulty changing strategies or thinking of things in a different way (i.e., perseveration); poor judgment; and inability to apply knowledge to new situations.
Children with Executive Functioning Deficit have difficulty reading social cues and may feel overwhelmed in large group situations. EF can cause pervasive problems as this disability does not affect only one area of learning like Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or Dyscalculia. Every subject can be affected by Executive Functioning Deficit issues, but particularly any academic area that requires sequential processing.
The education specialists at Total Learning Centers were able to develop an educational plan that met Elise’s specific learning needs. For the last two years, Elise has attended TLC four days a week instead of attending public school. She still fulfills the state’s educational requirements by taking reading, science, history, math, writing classes and remediation for her learning challenges. But school feels different now.
Learning is fun again, not a chore, according to Elise. Beverley says Elise leaves for school — and returns — with a smile on her face. “TLC was able to work with her on an individual basis and find programs and ways for her to learn the same materials,” Beverley said. “All of a sudden the girl regained all of that confidence to the point now where she approaches life with the maturity and confidence of someone beyond her years.”
Elise had lost trust in teachers before coming to TLC and now with one-on-one attention has been able to regain that trust and improve her self-confidence. “In the school environment, there was no one that was a cheerleader,” Beverley said. “Having someone in your corner can make all the difference.” After just one year at TLC, Elise’s PSSA scores increased to advanced. Her school-related anxiety has diminished, and her self-esteem has soared.
“She’s a new child,” Beverley said. “TLC saved my daughter’s life.”