My previous post described the beginning of Mel Levine’s January talk, and ended with a case in point describing a young child and the learning issues with which he was diagnosed. This post describes one avenue for dealing with those issues, along with how Mel Levine, in general, deals with children and young adults who come his way.
There are a number of ways to deal with wiring issues (that often translate to learning issues), some of which can be overcome or circumvented.
The young man mentioned in the previous post, diagnosed with an auditory processing issue and dyslexia, learned the letters of the alphabet over a two year period. From second to third grade he met regularly with a speech and language therapist who used the Orton-Gillingham method. He also met for several weeks with an occupational therapist, where the focus was on understanding where his body was in relation to the space around him.
By the middle of third grade he was reading, and as a young adult he is described as an avid reader with an outstanding vocabulary. His penmanship has not changed much in the intervening years; while legible, a quick glance at his writing might cause you to think the writer was younger than his late teenage years. He is better able to follow directions when they are phrased precisely and clearly, and for oral directions, stated slower rather than hastily spewed out. Other areas impacted by the dyslexia include processing abstract information, which in this case translates to mathematics. One-on-one tutorials have been found helpful for developing an understanding of some of the mathematical concepts.
Mel Levine noted that his approach in dealing with “students who are innocent victims of their own wiring” is to “strengthen strengths.” This plays a large role in the demystification process championed by his organization, All Kinds of Minds. Mel explains the process in this brief article, Demystification: Taking the Mystery Out of Disappointing Mastery. You can gain further insight into the philosophy behind the practice by viewing any of the videos or listening to the audio interviews on the Media page. (There are also transcripts available for all talks). Essentially, the student is made a partner in the process, and the process involves having the student understand their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, the student learns about how s/he learns. Another word for that is metacognition 🙂
In conjunction with Dr Levine, Channel Thirteen, the New York public television station, produced Misunderstood Minds, a content rich site that “profiles a variety of learning problems and expert opinions”. The site includes many simulations and hands-on activities related to attention, reading, writing and mathematics. It is well worth the time to investigate these activities, as they provide a glimpse in to what it is like to have wiring anomalies that impact learning.
The other key, not just for kids with wiring anomalies but for all young adults (indeed, for each of us), is to find your niche and “then all else will fall into place”. My next post on Levine’s talk will continue with this idea.
Meanwhile, if you or someone you know has learning issues, below are organizations that have plenty of helpful information to get you started in understanding your or their wiring. The first site focuses on dyslexia, but the other three include extensive information on a range of topics.
Next post: A Niche in Time, continuation of Mel Levine’s talk