Misdiagnosing Learning Difficulties in the Early Years


Teachers and educators (myself included) believe in the power of our vision to make a difference in the lives of students. We think that if we start early, we will guarantee their success in the future. The risky part in education is reducing our evaluation methods to using statistics and making false assumptions about what is normal and what is not.

The official introduction of those assumptions occurred in 1904, when the psychologist Alfred Binet was asked by the French government to develop a test that would identify students with learning difficulties that required special help at school. The original request meant to cater better for students who needed help, but it gave birth to the test that later distorted education systems everywhere – the IQ Test.

The “Crystal Ball” of the Education System
Based on the IQ test, students were positioned in a single, permanent place on the famous “bell curve” and that determined their potential for life. Shortly after its creation, the IQ test turned into the “crystal ball” of the education system. Children took the test and their future was decided. The IQ test took over the education system. Instead of being a helping teachers teach and helping students learn, it turned into an evaluation system that focused on formal scores and taught kids to pass tests.

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The Wonders of Ritalin


Matt was a troublemaker. He disturbed the class, made lots of noises and fought with the other kids in class. It was unbearable. His teacher tried different methods to stop this behavior, but nothing helped, so he invited Matt’s presents for a talk.

Matt’s parents came to see the teacher and he told them about his failed attempts to calm him down and keep the order in class.

“I’ve tried everything I could and exhausted my options”, said the teacher and asked Matt’s parents about his behavior at home.

Matt’s dad said, “We’ve tried everything ourselves. We punish him, we bribe him, but nothing helps”.

“Have you tried diagnosing him?” asked the teacher.

“I don’t believe in diagnosing. It won’t help. It’s not practical,” said Matt’s mom.

“Well, how about giving him Ritalin?” suggested the teacher, “It will calm him down”.

“Where do we get Ritalin?” Matt’s dad asked.

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll arrange this for you. Matt will take one tablet every day before he comes to school and everything will be OK”, said the teacher.

“Well, that won’t work”, said Matt’s mom, “Our mornings are very hectic. My husband leaves home early and I rush the kids to school. Who’s going to make sure he takes his tablet?”

“OK, then I can help you with this”, said the teacher, “I will give him the tablet myself when he gets to school”.

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Parental Troubleshooting


I am sure you will agree that nobody is perfect and that kids, being people-in-the-making, cannot be expected to be perfect. So when your child struggles with some difficulty, it can be just part of being a child or it can be something else. It is often hard to tell.

Community nurses will tell you that the phrase “Mama knows best” is true and when a parent feels their child is suffering some kind of problem, they should be taken seriously and the child should be thoroughly checked until the problem is found and fixed. Ronit helps identify kids’ problems regularly and is amazed at how many times parents arrive in desperation, having been dismissed and ignored by “the professionals”.

So whether you are Mama or Papa, if you suspect your child might be having some sort of a problem, you know best. Do not let anyone put you down or discourage you. Your child is your responsibility and if you say he or she needs help, that is good enough. Keep on searching and doing the best for your child until you succeed.

What’s the problem with my child?

Excuse me if I use a computer metaphor, but in the IT world, there are 3 kinds of people: hardware engineers, software developers and implementers. Hardware engineers know how to combine electronic components and build computers. Software developers enable the hardware to do a lot of wonderful things. Implementers (business analysts) choose the best hardware, software, settings and methods to use in a particular context.

Parents, unfortunately, have to be all of them.

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Ritalin: The Easy Way Out of ADHD?


If you are a parent of a child who has been diagnosed or suspected as having ADHD and you are considering putting them on Ritalin, this post is for you! I have written about ADHD in this blog before, hoping to empower parents to take control over the health and wellbeing of their children and making sure their kids do not become a label. I hope today’s story and video will help you make more informed choices about ADHD and Ritalin.

I have been working in the special education field for 25 years. My amazing mentors and teachers warned me that one day, the inflation in the use of drugs to solve academic or behavioral problems like ADD, ADHD, emotional struggles and even tiredness will be so high that my job would be to stay on guard and offer parents alternatives and hope. I took this job description very seriously, but never in my darkest and most pessimistic dreams have I seen it becoming as big or as scary as this.

I am angry and I want to cry from frustration, because we have lost one more child to a form of organized crime. I am writing this post to recover, to remind myself of my job description, to try and save other children from a horrible fate and to offer hope, only this time I need that hope myself.

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Labeling Kids


Labeling is humans’ way of making things easier to deal with, or so they hope. I think it is probably because of our limited language. For example, if you had to pick a color, you might call it blue, but if you check carefully, you would find many shades of blue. In the graphics world, they do not even call it blue. They use numbers. Labeling is our way of understanding that when somebody says, “Oh, I love it when the sky is #87CEEB”, they mean “a medium-light shade of blue”.

I am not against labeling. I use labeling a lot in my work, especially with kids, because it saves a lot of time explaining the range of each label. Instead of saying, “On a scale of 1 to 100 of being scared, you scored 30″, I say, “You are very cautious and that should be really appreciated”.

But what happens when professionals become too attached to the labels they give kids?

Recently, I watched a video done by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. I would like to support their cause by encouraging all the parents in the world to watch it and I know you will enjoy.

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From the Life Coaching Deck: Hyperactive Kids


Over many years of work, I have seen many kids whose parents claimed they had ADD (Attention Deficit disorder) and/or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and wanted to know what I thought about giving them Ritalin.

Luckily, I am not a doctor and I do not need to prescribe medication to kids, but when parents want my opinion, I usually say, “Try as many other things as you can before you consider Ritalin”.

In fact, this happened to me again recently.

Luke is a 6-year-old boy who came to see me because he was diagnosed with (are you sitting down?) ADD, ADHD, autism, Asperger Syndrome, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The doctor was pushing the parents hard to put him on Ritalin, but his mom did not like the idea. She changed his diet and said there was a significant improvement at first, but felt that after 6 months of a strict diet, the effects had worn off and he was becoming more agitated and getting into trouble at school again.

This post is part 4 of 11 in the series From the Life Coaching Deck

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The Fun Incentive

Last weekend, I had a chance to talk to a mother about my better parenting skills program. She told me about her son’s behavior problems and wanted to know what was so magical about my program that made kids perform so well. I said to her, “There is no magic in the program. It is just based on understanding of the human brain, as every one of my parent coaching clients and better parenting skills workshop participants discovers”.

Although I like the thought that I work magic in my programs, I truly believe this magic can be done by everyone who understands the importance of having fun in the learning process and focusing their energy in a positive direction.

The woman told me her son was “hyperactive”.

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Dyslexia Glasses

If you or your child suffer from blurred or moving text, letter swapping or any other of the symptoms listed, this could be your lucky day.

In fact, what you are about to read may be helpful if you or your child suffer from one of the following: Reading and learning problems, Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Autism or Asperger Syndrome, Behavioral or emotional problems, Headaches, migraines, fatigue or other physical symptoms, Light Sensitivity (Photophobia), Traumatic brain injury (TBI), whip lash or concussions, Certain medical and visual conditions.

But let’s start with a story.

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TV Diet (9): Kids’ Personalities

In the past 8 weeks, I have written about the damaging effects of watching too much TV. Last week, I suggested measuring the amount of time your kids watch TV and keeping a record of the kinds of programs they watch. I hope this has given you a good understanding of what you are facing.

Today, I will cover kids’ personality types that are more subject to TV addiction and need a bit more care and attention.

This post is part 9 of 18 in the series TV Diet

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TV Diet (7): Learning and Education

Last week, I wrote about the influence of watching TV on kids’ and adults’ perception of relationships as disposable and easy to change. Today, I want to write about something very close to my heart – learning and education – and how watching TV affects them.

Some people might say, “Big deal. Not every child has to do well at school. Besides, there are things kids can learn from watching TV too”.

Well, humans must learn to survive. Your kids’ opportunities in life depend very much on their abilities to learn and develop new skills. Read on and you will see that watching TV causes kids to do poorly at school, but this also sets them up for a much more limited life long after they finish school.

This post is part 7 of 18 in the series TV Diet

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