What Happens When the Wrong Thing Works?

Jill Stowell Auditory Processing, Classroom, Development, General Information, Homework, IEP, Learning Disability, School, Sports

hckeyJuly is the month of summer camps and growing up, our kids were no exception.  One summer, we went to Penticton, British Columbia so that our son, Kevin, could attend a one-week ice hockey camp.

We were really fortunate that an NHL professional player, Ray Ferraro, had brought his son to the camp the same week.  Even better was the fact that Ray’s son and our son were both goalies.  That meant my husband and Ray got to spend every afternoon in the stands together as hockey dads.

Later that week, Ray went on the ice and took some shots on Kevin. Overall he was pretty impressed with our kid (it sure made us feel good).

But then he said this, “Kevin used some moves that aren’t good, and the worst thing about it is when he used them, they worked.  But when I see a goalie do what he did, I’ll beat him every time.”

Because the moves worked in that moment, he was bound to repeat them, thinking these were the right ways to play the position.  But experienced players could tell it was just a matter of time before his game would collapse.

Fortunately, he made the right changes and had a very good “career” as a goalie.

This very same pattern occurs with students with learning challenges.  They have to find a way to survive in school and often develop coping strategies that help them get by, but don’t actually further their ability to be independent and successful learners.

I remember one very bright high school student, Alan, who had quite a serious auditory processing problems and read at a 6th grade level.  Now, 6th grade level is enough to slide by with a lot of extra effort, but it simply wasn’t going to be enough to get him through his honors classes, or into college as the pre-med student he wanted to be.

Alan’s weak auditory processing skills caused him to become extremely sleepy in class (a symptom of system overload) and he missed a tremendous amount of information from lectures.

Alan’s survival solution to these problems was to let girls who were good at Language Arts and History copy his math homework in exchange for them writing his essays.  And it worked!  For most of his high school career, no one knew that he was really struggling.

Unfortunately, the closer he got to college entrance exams and applications, the more evident it became that his skills were not going to cut it.

Thankfully, Alan’s parents recognized the problem in time to get him the help he needed to correct the auditory processing challenges that were affecting his listening and reading.  Alan did go on to Columbia University as a pre-med major.  He has since changed his focus to physical therapy by his own choice and not because his skills couldn’t support his goals.

It is a very common belief that if you have a learning or attention challenge, you just have to try harder, be more motivated, and find ways to work around your challenges.  The creative ways of coping with their challenges may work for a while, but are simply not a long term recipe for success.

The brain research over the last 25 years and our experience with thousands of children and adults with learning challenges proves that the underlying skills (such as auditory processing) that support efficient learning can be developed, paving the way for true and permanent remediation of reading disabilities and other academic struggles.

Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, learning, or attention?  These challenges can be changed.  While there are no simple, overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through developing the weak underlying skills and remediating the affected academic areas.  Need to know more??

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“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers