The author of Lost At School suggests parents and teachers have two beliefs towards kids struggling with academics. One is that kids do well if they “wanna,” and the other is kids do well if they can.
For the past 7 academic years, my son has bounced around to 5 different schools while I rode the emotional roller coaster of hoping for a “good fit.” With a great deal of home support, he managed to get by, until he encountered the demands of middle school.
With the onset of teen attitude and an academic plunge, I became increasingly convinced that he didn’t “wanna.” Only one treatment exists for this – an incentive program. The best of the best, ABA (applied behavior analysis) was an $8,000 failure.
Next step – psycho-educational testing. It revealed 98% of kids his age could outperform him in terms of processing speed, recall, and following oral directions. It was a surprisingly marked deficit for a kid that could read (decode) on grade level, interact well, and have an average IQ.
I remember him dutifully reading an action-adventure-drama-filled-teen book only to have him say to me in all sincerity, “Why am I not getting anything out of this?” I had no idea how to answer, and it gnawed at me for days. His question led us to the Lindamood-Bell program.
Lindamood-Bell had the answer to his question. He did not visualize what he was reading. Suddenly it became obvious why he lacked an interest in academics. He only read meaningless words on paper. His mind was closed off to so much.
Most importantly, Lindamood-Bell offered a method of treatment to remove this obstacle. Pinpointing and treating the problem goes hand in hand with the kids do well if they can philosophy. It is a more difficult philosophy to solve the mystery and work at fixing it, but worth the effort, because now he can.
The more I thought about how closed off his mind has been to the world around him, the more I thought about having him read local current news as the ultimate exercise in having the written word apply to his surroundings. He reads an article of his choosing aloud each day. At first his recall was sketchy, but mid-way through the Lindamood-Bell program, I was overjoyed to hear him recall specific details from the article with ease, speed, and accuracy.
Some side benefits I noticed from the newspaper readings were the challenging vocabulary, and increase in self confidence. For example, he had a chance to see me challenged to form a picture of the word “gyrocopter,” and we have a long discussion about the term “bail bond.” He gets a boost letting others know he is up on current events, and can offer his own opinions in debatable issues.
Identifying and treating this obstacle is the greatest favor I could ever give my son. Without Lindamood-Bell, he would have continued to struggle with academics indefinitely, continued to wonder why, continued to feel defeated, and would be oblivious to the deeper meaning of the world around him.