“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Why is Doc Meek so enthusiastic?
You may recall the radio personality, Paul Harvey, from many years ago now? He would do an intriguing “setup” or introductory preamble that would grab your attention, and then he would invite his rapt audience to hear “the rest of the story” after the station break.
Then he would come back on the air with enthusiasm and say, “And now… the rest of the story!”
And so… readers have asked me to tell the more about why I am so enthusiastic about rescuing children from the emotional turmoil of their learning disabilities, or as I prefer to say:
Helping children triumph over their emotional pain, and have fun overcoming their learning difficulties or learning differences.
After all, it is much easier to workaround a learning difficulty or a learning difference, then it is to struggle endlessly with a seemingly fixed learning disability.
There is much more hope in playing with a learning difficulty or a learning difference.
Up the Ladder of “Success”
As I worked on my education degrees, I also worked at becoming an all around educator.
I was a special education teacher, a cross-cultural teacher, a regular school teacher, a school principal, a superintendent of schools, a provincial department of education consultant.
One day, when I was working on a policy statement for a senior official in the provincial department of education, I thought, “Where are the children?”
I had “signed up” to teach children and here I was in the administrative world of education–great work–and where was the direct work with children?
Besides, as I went up through the ranks I could not escape noticing that so many children were suffering in anguish because they either could not learn to read in grade one, or were struggling somewhere along in the grades.
Going “Backwards” into Private Practice
So I made a decision to go into private practice to help kids (and adults) overcome learning difficulties. I was terrified to “go it alone” like this, as I was used to “a regular monthly paycheck.”
It worked out just fine.
I respected the teachers who were trying so hard to help all the kids. And I especially honored the mothers who wanted success for their kids in school with all their hearts and souls.
The mothers “carried the freight” alright and I wanted to help lighten that burden if I could!
I never looked back!
I showed kids face-to-face that they were smarter than they thought!
I also showed teachers and parents how to help their students and children how to use not only their brains, but to remember that we need all of the “4-H’s” to make studying easier and remembering longer:
HEAD/HEART/HANDS/HOPE need connecting for true learning to occur.
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Sat, Dec 6, 2014
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Why do I work so hard to help kids?
So how did I get started?
I didn’t know what career to pursue
When I finished my grade 12 year, I wondered what I should take at University.
I loved the English language, and loved being a member of the debating club, so I thought I might make a good lawyer. I didn’t want to be a corporate lawyer. Too dry and dusty I thought.
I wanted to be a trial lawyer, to handle what I thought would be exciting litigation work in the courtroom. Dramatic arguments in front of the jury and all that.
But then I was concerned that if I went into criminal law, I might end up accepting tainted or stolen money in order to earn a living. So I set that aside.
I was drawn to the world of healing (perhaps because I was so sick when I was younger), so I wondered if I should try to get into medical school. My Dad, a journeyman electrician, had a modest income and I felt that even if I worked hard to earn extra money (which I was doing all along), I could probably not afford the high tuition fees demanded by medical schools.
I did not want to run up a $200,000 student debt as some of my friends were proposing to do. (The equivalent medical student loan now runs to $350,000 – $400,000, I’m told.)
Yes, I could repay the debt out of my future physician income, but I have always been pretty cautious about debt.
(A friend of mine ran up a huge student loan debt, and then was struck down with an extremely rare medical condition and was unable to finish his medical degree, so he was/is “toast” in terms of income, both present and future.)
As my dear friend said: “It’s difficult to predict… especially the future.” :O
What would have the most impact long-term?
I thought about the impact of being a good lawyer, or being a good doctor, and I felt that the effects of my work with my clients or patients might, in one sense, be relatively short-lived.
Because it began to dawn on me (maybe because of something I was reading) that teaching, even though it wasn’t necessarily well-paying, could have long-term or even permanent effects if done well. All through mortality perhaps, and maybe even on into eternity if I turned out to be an outstandingly inspirational teacher.
Provided the students were learning well. And loved learning.
I was always such a learning sponge, voracious reader, knowledge “addict,” and ultimately an enthusiastic lifelong learner, that I wanted that for everybody I guess!
I became a fiery advocate of lifelong learning for all, and I realized that for struggling kids in school, that wouldn’t happen if they were learning to hate learning.
All kids should have a chance to love learning!
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Nov 25, 2014
Here’s the reminder from Pat Wyman of HowtoLearn.com: Last day of Big Back to School Giveaway 2014! – Doc Meek
- videos from the World’s Fastest Reader on speed learning, memory, reading and more
- Awaken the Scholar Within Program
- SOS Organization Binder
- Complimentary Consultations .
- Digital Book on Feelings
- Academic GamePlan complete student excellence programs
- Invite-Only Complimentary Kindle Best-Selling Author Course
Between September 24th and 30th, HowtoLearn.com is proud to announce our annual Big Back to School Giveaway 2014.
We’re grateful to the Office Depot Foundation for their donations to this program, as well as the Deck and Headset from Sol Republic, and all the back to school items from our HowtoLearn.com Experts.
You’ll find complimentary:
videos from the World’s Fastest Reader on speed learning, memory, reading and more
Awaken the Scholar Within Program
SOS Organization Binder
Complimentary Consultations [Among others, you’re in here, Doc!].
Digital Book on Feelings
Academic GamePlan complete student excellence programs
Invite-Only Complimentary Kindle Best-Selling Author Course
So head on over and enjoy all the Complimentary Items this year and let all your friends know about the Big Back to School Giveaway at HowtoLearn.com
The Center for New Discoveries in Learning, Inc., 4535 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 200, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Warmly, Pat Wyman
P.S. Let all your contacts know about our Big School Giveaway at HowtoLearn.com!
Today I am grateful for developmental optometrists–such as Dr Margaret Penny of Calgary, Alberta, Canada–who have helped many students overcome reading difficulties. – Doc Meek
Image from: 123rf.com
Visual training may be required
to overcome reading difficulties
Sharon (not her real name) was bright and vivacious, and still struggling with reading in Grade 5. She strained and strained when trying to read and often got headaches. Her school marks suffered despite her strong intelligence.
Her Mom was mystified.
“We had her eyes tested and she has perfect vision. The school nurse told us her vision is 20/20 and she doesn’t need glasses.”
“Good vision involves more than 20/20 eyesight,” I said.
Sharon and her Mom were even more mystified when I said:
“The eyes don’t see–the brain sees.”
“What do you mean?” they both chimed, almost with one voice.
“Reading involves more than 20/20 eyesight,” I said. “The eyes and brain are required to perform an array of complex and coordinated tasks to read well, and to comprehend what is being read.”
See a developmental optometrist
I asked Mom and Sharon to make an appointment with an eye doctor–an ophthalmologist–to check for general eye health and possible astigmatism (imperfections in the shape of the lens of the eye). Sharon returned with a glowing report.
“OK, good,” I said. “I’ve watched you read, Sharon, and I would now like you to find a good developmental optometrist–not a regular optometrist–a developmental optometrist who can give you an assessment of what exactly your eyes and brain are doing when you try to read.”
I told Sharon and her Mom that visual training supervised by a developmental optometrist may be required.
“But,” said Mom, “the eye doctor told us that Sharon had no problems with her eyes.”
“He also told us that there is no evidence that visual training helps a student read better.”
I said that is what they taught the doctors in medical school and the doctors did not pursue it further when they got into private practice.
“As a neurological learning specialist,” I said, “I have found that visual training can make the difference between school failure and school success.”
Sure enough, Sharon’s eyes and brain
were not performing well for reading tasks
After the initial visit with the developmental optometrist, and meeting with several other students who were taking visual training to help with reading competence, Sharon spent many weeks training her eyes and brain to work together to perform the complicated and coordinated tasks required for easy reading.
Sharon’s marks at school soared as she practiced her visual training skills at the developmental optometrist’s clinic and at home and at school.
The outstanding developmental optometrist Sharon and her Mom went to was Dr Margaret Penny.
Here is a brief description of her work, from Sundre Vision Care near Calgary, Alberta, Canada:
“Dr Margaret Penny also has a Masters Degree in Educational psychology. She has a special interest and passion in working with children and adults who have visually related learning difficulties, tracking, focusing and binocular dysfunctions, and perceptual delays. Vision therapy and rehabilitation of these problems has been an integral part of her practice.”
Thank you, Dr Penny, for saving many a student from school despair!
Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah, Wed, Sept 24, 2014
Today I am grateful for people who are very sensitive and for those who help them, like Sharon Heller, expert and author. – Doc Meek Image from: 123rf.com
Super Sensitive Smell
My first experience with super senses came when I first started my private practice at THE LEARNING CLINIC, several decades ago now.
A young boy was brought in by his mother, who was worried about his problems at school and at home. She introduced me to Jackson (not his real name) and asked me to speak with him about school.
Jackson and his Mom were seated about 6 feet away from me in my office.
“Hi Jackson,” I ventured softly. “Can you tell me something that you are good at?”
“Maybe you could share with your Mom and me something that you like? Anything. Not just at school. OK?”
Surprise for Doc Meek (and Mom!)
Mom encouraged Jackson to speak up: “Doc is kindly and gentle, son, and will listen respectfully to what you say, no matter what.”
“Your breath stinks,” ventured Jackson, holding his nose. (Remember that Jackson was 6 feet away from me.)
Mom’s face reddened and she was about to expostulate…
I said, “It’s OK, Mom.”
“It’s OK, Jackson. You are just letting me know what you don’t like and that’s good.”
HSP (Hypersensitive Person)
I recalled my earlier reading about HSP (hypersensitive person), or in plain English: Highly Sensitive People).
Jackson, encouraged, ventured again:
“Your wall clock is so noisy I can’t hear you and Mom real good.”
Neither Mom nor I could hear the wall clock tick.
Thus began my fortunate face-to-face education about HSP (Highly Sensitive People). Of which, more later.
For details on these kinds of learning problems, see the delightful book by Sharon Heller (2003), too loud, too bright, too fast, too tight, available online at Amazon.com and elsewhere:
Thank you, Sharon Heller!
Dialing down the ticking clock
I did not know how to help Jackson with the super smell at the time.
I did know how to try to help with the super hearing.
Using concrete examples such as turning down the volume on a radio, we taught Jackson’s brain how to mentally dial down the volume of items that were distracting him in everyday life.
We had Jackson imagine a picture of radio volume dial out in front of him and and we had him reach out with his hand and turn the volume dial down.
This was not sufficient.
Finally the idea came of hooking up an imaginary small motor with a belt pulley attached to the volume control dial.
As the motor spins the volume dial down “endlessly,” the brain is able to dial down distracting sounds (such as a ticking clock, or tinnitus).
Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah, USA, Sept 10, 2014
P.S. Highly Sensitive Granddaughter
Years later, the memory of Jackson came back to me when I was walking by a brick building with my granddaughter Katie (not her real name).
Suddenly (“for no reason”) she clapped her hands firmly over her ears.
“What’s happened?” I asked as we walked further away.
“Those pipes are so noisy,” she advised Grandpa, whose hearing is not perfect she knew.
Turns out that two “silent” exhaust pipes were softly “whooshing” air from an unheard fan highly distant from the pipe exit.
“Good luck, little girl,” I whispered inside my head. “I’m glad we know better now how to help you manage better.” ………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Image from: www.123rf.com
Will avoiding food additives
help my child avoid ADHD or LD?
(ADHD = Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; LD = Learning Disabilities)
A distraught mother brought her son to me one day.
“He’s driving himself and me crazy,” she said.
“In what ways?” I innocently asked.
“He can’t seem to stick to anything. He’s disorganized at home and he’s disorganized at school and he’s disorganized at sports. He’s disorganized everywhere.”
“What have you tried to do to help him?” I queried.
“Yelling at him doesn’t help,” says Mom.
Mom is right.
Moms are always right. (Even when they’re wrong, they’re right.)
Do food additives hurt us?
Of course. The real question is, “How much?”
The Mom said she’d heard that food additives can mess up the brain’s ability to think and organize.
“Is this true?” she asked, wringing her hands (as Moms sometimes will do when pressed to the wall).
“I don’t want to be a food policeman!” she blurted.
“Ya!” blurted her boy.
So what did I say to help Mom?
Here’s the answer:
It depends upon your individual child.
You know this.
“Why don’t you try and see what happens?” I suggested to Mom.
“Trust your gut instincts. Trust your Mom intuition,” I encouraged her.
“Ya!” blurted the boy.
She did. He did. They both began to settle down.
It isn’t a miracle.
It is just common sense to check out some things that are “getting to” your child.
Here is the first grand secret…
1. Your child is not a statistic.
Suppose an ADHD expert says that avoiding food additives is not the way to go:
“It helps only 5% of children with ADHD or LD (learning disabilities).”
A discouraging statistic, right?
What if your child is among that 5%?
Your child is not a statistic.
Here is the 2nd grand secret…
2. “Science” and “the research” are not about your child
“Science” and “research” have their own agenda.
What if “science” and “the research” show that that food additives do not harm us in any significant way.
Who funded the study?
Probably the people who manufacture the food additives.
Or their advocates or friends.
Or maybe the study was “objective” and “neutral?”
It doesn’t matter.
Either way, your individual child is what counts, not “science” and “the research.”
It’s about “what works” for your child, not what some third party says.
And here’s the 3rd grand secret…
3. You have to do more than just one thing to solve ADHD or LD (learning difficulties).
Yes, cut out the food additives if you can. Many of them are poison to the mind, regardless of whether they make ADHD or LD worse.
And then go onwards to check out all kinds of things (especially the “controversial” stuff).
Controversial simply means that strongly differing opinions are strongly held, regardless of the truth.Here are some possibilities for your individual child (see “what works”):
(a) Baroque Music (gentle; one beat per second approximately)
(b) Not rock music (unless the goal is to motivate the body to move more, to take “action,” to dance)
(c) Vigorous exercise–see previous blog post on this website:
(d) Behavioral training (there are some good practical programs out there)
(e) Love ‘em (even if they’re driving themselves and you crazy)
(f) “Passive” therapy (audio programs using headphones that the child wears while resting, sleeping, studying, or actively doing things)
(g) Prayer (it doesn’t matter whether you believe in a Supreme Being or not; prayer/meditation can be a humbling, calming experience)
(h) Your imagination (“Imagination trumps knowledge,” Einstein said, and he’s right)
(i) Your child’s imagination (you’d be pleasantly surprised!)
What a renowned expert ADHD MD said:
“There is only one proven way to treat ADHD: Ritalin.”
Myself and others have helped thousands of ADHD and LD sufferers to improve significantly without medication, and sometimes with a medley of effective efforts including medication.
One of these success stories could be your individual child.
Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah, USA, Wed, Aug 13, 2014
P.S. If you want to read what a really sensible expert ADHD MD says:
Read Healing ADD by Dr Daniel Amen (and of course, he’s “controversial” and he’s also effective).
Dr Amen has helped thousands and thousands of Moms and children with ADHD and LD to better lives.
He identifies 7 different types of ADHD and recommends 7 different customized approaches, with a huge array of suggestions, including simple “do’s” and “don’t’s” that can be done at home, natural supplements, behavioral modification, and medication.
Exercise miracles outdoors/indoors
“Everybody” knows that exercise is good for you. And it takes effort so we don’t always make the effort.
My doctor friend tells me that vigorous physical movement is the best “pill” you can take! The “trick” is to find a way to make it somewhat enjoyable:
– get outdoors if that does it for you
– stay indoors if the weather doesn’t suit… or walk in the rain
– exercise to music
– make it a timeclock challenge is some way that pleases you
– make it an endurance challenge in some way that pleases you
– make it anyway that works
Set low goals?
My doctor friend says don’t set high goals and quit. Set low goals, so you will keep it up. Keep going and get to where you need/want to be:
– start low
– go slow
– and don’t stop!
He says that exercise helps almost “everything.” Almost any physical problem or illness or disease can be helped by using movement because it stimulates and vivifies so many body systems and subsystems.
The brain also works better
with vigorous physical movement
Allison Cameron was teaching in Park City, Saskatchewan, Canada. The students could not focus or concentrate on schoolwork and their low marks showed that.
A fitness expert friend of hers said he would put treadmills in her classroom.
This didn’t work for some of the students until Allison herself got on the treadmill for 20 minutes before starting class. Then even the most reluctant pupils got on board.
After 20 minutes on the treadmill, with the heart rate up in the “training zone,” the students were able to concentrate and focus for 2-3 hours.
Critics said Allison was wasting class time
Of course critics abound whenever anything different is tried.
Allison persisted because she felt that “wasting” 20 minutes was better than wasting the entire class period.
Besides, the pupils got more work done in the next 2-3 hours after they exercised vigorously for 20 minutes than they did before during the whole school day.
Allison delighted as pupils’ marks shot up
The critics slowed down when the pupils’ marks in reading and math shot up.
Previously all of the students had been failing miserably.
Good job Allison! Good job trusty students!
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Wed, June 18, 2014
P.S. Of course, not everybody can get treadmills in their classroom or their home.
Any vigorous movement, outdoors or in, equipment or no equipment, will help the brain to focus and concentrate for hours.
Maximum benefit to the brain occurs when the vigorous exercise lasts 20 minutes and the heart rate reaches up into the “training zone.”
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that the heart rate “training zone” is a heart rate that is at least 50%-60% higher than the resting heart rate.
Any fitness expert can refine this statement with a chart by age.
Doc Meek, the “brain fitness” expert.
See previous articles on the
high value of exercise for
improving learning and marks:
Image from: 123rf.com
“Destroying False Evidence!” – Doc Meek
Children in school very early on make the culturally-induced mistake of thinking that their school marks and their report card marks are a measure of their intelligence.
This false perception proves to be a minor error for some children and a major life-crippling error for others. What?
Report cards can be life-crippling instruments?
Yes, because the children (and society at large) believe–falsely–that the report card is an accurate measure of the child’s intelligence. Or at least an accurate measure of the child’s effort. Or both.
Thus a poor report card reflects on the child in two negative ways. It is thought that the report card marks prove that the child is either smart or not smart, or is making a good effort or is not making a good effort.
Locked in like a death grip
How can a good report card mislead a child?
The stories of well-educated and smart people–on the basis of their school marks–who fail in the workplace and/or in life are legion.
Some children brought to see me at THE LEARNING CLINIC are so locked into the false evidence of the report card that these children—on the basis of their report cards from school—believe they are both stupid and lazy.
I am certain the school does not intend to teach children that they are stupid and/or lazy.
What is to be done?
Sometimes drastic measures are necessary to demonstrate dramatically to the child that there is a solid disconnect between a school report card and their own intelligence and effort.
One child brought to me (let’s call him Harold, not his real name) had spent the first 4 or 5 years in elementary school and still had not learned to read.
Harold’s report cards were abysmal. And Harold felt dismal.
Both stupid and lazy?
Harold felt—and knew it was true—he was both stupid and lazy.
Harold’s father—a very frustrated and very angry parent—thankfully was convinced that everybody was missing something important. He just didn’t know what it was.
Harold’s father said he had positive out-of-school evidence that Harold was very smart.
Harold could not see it. He was adamant that he was stupid and lazy. His report cards proved it. All D’s and F’s for years.
The father was equally adamant that there was a solution. He insisted that I find a way to “get to the bottom of this mess!”
Soaring and crashing
So the father found a reading buddy for Harold and I taught them both how to use specific strategies to overcome the worst aspects of Harold’s inability to read—his dyslexia as some would call it.
Dyslexia is just a label—a label for observed reading difficulties. There are as many different kinds of dyslexia as there are children.
Both Harold and Tom (not his real name) practiced a specific strategy faithfully together for 15 minutes every day and reported back to me on Saturdays. They would then continue that same strategy for another week, or learn a new strategy.
These strategies were of all kinds: intellectual, visual, auditory, emotional, kinesthetic, beliefs, etc. We used the whole body and the whole mind. All happy and hopeful strategies. (For detailed specifics, see The Gift of Dyslexia, by Ronald Davis.)
Harold loved it. He was succeeding for the first time at mental tasks.
All went reasonably well and Harold’s marks at school soared. Finally Harold’s work at school was going so well that the reading pair stopped reporting to me weekly.
This is usually a good sign.
Crashed and crushed
Then one day Harold and his father arrived at my office like a great wind.
Father was in high dudgeon and Harold was so hang-dog I was very concerned for him. He looked even more defeated than when I saw him the first time in my office.
“What’s the matter?” I ventured.
Dad shoved a report card into my hands. Harold had just brought it home from school the day before.
I glanced at it. Mostly D’s and F’s. I quickly set the report card aside.
Dad explained that he had gone to the school to complain. The school explained that it was a mathematical averaging thing. They explained that Harold’s recent good marks were mathematically overwhelmed by the multitude of bad marks previously. It was school policy to average marks over time.
You would think that someone might have had the courage (or simply the common sense) to ignore the bad past and put the present good into place on a suffering kid’s report card. It is, after all, just a piece of paper, right?
Sometimes it is imperative to ignore “standard policy” or “standard practice” and remember the first purpose of education is to serve the child, not worship some mathematical algorithm.
Drastic measures needed
I tried reasoning with Harold:
“But look, you and Tom practiced those reading strategies faithfully every day and you know you learned to read quite well. You know you were reading quite well! Your Dad knows it. Your teacher knows it. And I know it and you know it. Right?”
Harold was unmoved. Locked in total despair. The report card proved he was right–he was stupid and lazy, just like always.
I grabbed the report card, shook it in front of Harold’s face, and roared, “Who cares what they think! You know better!”
I stood up, tore the report card to pieces, and hurled the pieces into the far corner of the office.
Dad was startled (to say the least).
Harold was impressed!
The evidence was destroyed right in front of him
Report cards had been the bane of his existence ever since he had started school.
An instrument of torture, defeat and proof of stupidity.
All that evidence—gone to wrack and ruin in the far corner of my office.
The vital necessity of keeping hope alive (at all costs)
So Harold sent back to school with high hope in his heart, and with his confidence in the truth of report cards decimated forever.
Wouldn’t you know it? Harold continued to thrive in school.
Doc Meek, Learning Specialist
Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA, Fri, May 30, 2014
.EPILOGUE: A couple of days later, Dad arrived in my office alone, looking a little sheepish. “I need to sign that report card and take it back to the school,” he said. I was hoping he would aid and abet the demise of the report card, but he just couldn’t do it.
Fortunately the caretaker had not made his usual rounds to clean up my office.
So there we were in my office, a couple of guys gathering up pieces of report card, and scotch taping them back together like some weird puzzle.
Image from: 123rf.com