Learning Disabilities

By | April 2, 2018

Lazy is NOT A Diagnosis Part 1
Jill Stowell
I recently sat down with the parents of a high school student who has managed to barely get by in school. When we finished an in depth testing process we discovered he has some serious learning problems.
His parents told me with aching regret, that in the past, they had punished their son and taken things away because they had been told that his poor performance in school was due to “laziness and a behavior problem.”
Have you ever seen one of these kids that look lazy?
Maybe they always have their head on the desk. Others just never seem to be able to get started. Or maybe they just seem tired all the time, moving slowly, working slowly, barely able to muster any energy until it’s time for recess, P.E., or lunch. When asked about homework, they might say they didn’t have time, or didn’t have the right book, or maybe even say they just didn’t feel like doing it.
When teachers have gone “above and beyond,” done all they can do and the student doesn’t appear to be trying, lazy is often the only obvious conclusion left.
Despite how frustrated teachers get,
What we know about students is that if 
they could do the work, they would do it.  
Not doing work on a consistent basis is really embarrassing, and no student wants to be embarrassed.
So what is it with these lazy-like kids?  
Difficulty with learning usually has its root in one or more areas of inefficient processing or thinking skills, which are interrupting expected academic development.
Believe it or not, the developmental foundation for learning begins in utero.
There is a developmental continuum that depends on each skill/ability building on the group that develops before it. If there is interference in this development, at any level, it can affect school performance.
Often the interrupted skill development is very subtle.
Jessica (a real student but not her real name) is getting Ds and Fs in high school.
She can read, write, spell, and do math, BUT she doesn’t pay attention in class, does poorly on tests, and doesn’t get her work done.
There are no major problems, but she has lots of little challenges
*  Her memory is a little bit weak
*  Her attention is also a little bit weak so she is easily distracted from any task
*  She doesn’t have good strategies for monitoring her attention or for organizing her homework and projects 
It’s not an overwhelming disability. She “gets by.” And she seems pretty normal.
Here’s part of the tragedy
She’s pretty sure her parents and teachers are right when they say she’s lazy and unmotivated because she just can’t seem to pay attention and get her work done.  
Weak underlying processing and executive function skills can keep capable students from being able to pull it all together to perform as expected. Instead, they struggle to keep up and have inconsistent homework grades and test scores.
And most of the time they themselves don’t even know there’s anything wrong. It’s just how they’ve always been.
Jessica, and students like her, get ignored because they appear to be unwilling to try hard enough to succeed.
The biggest tragedy? Parents, teachers, and other professionals have (and continue) to treat these students as if there is nothing that is needed but effort AND if they really do need more there is nothing that can be done.
Here’s the good news –
These conditions CAN be corrected, fixed, repaired so they no longer get in the way of performance!
In Part 2 we’ll identify the missing / weak skills and how they effect school, work, and the rest of life.

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By Jill Stowell – Director
Stowell Learning Centers, Inc
15192 Central Ave
Chino, CA 91710
(909) 598-2482

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