On the spectrum? How personal brain training can help

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April is National Autism Awareness Month

 

On the Spectrum?

Find out how we’ve helped kids, teens and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

At LearningRx, we don’t diagnose autism. But plenty of students who have come to LearningRx had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when they started a personal brain training program with us. So why is LearningRx great for kids and adults on the spectrum? Because our personal brain training sessions are fun, challenging, structured, rewarding and encouraging! Plus, each workout session is customized to the strengths, weaknesses and goals of each individual student.

Want to learn more about our experience with kids, teens and adults on the autism spectrum? Check us out!:

https://www.learningrx.com/who-weve-helped/the-autism-spectrum/

7 Myths About the Brain that Might Surprise You

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  1. MYTH: You’re either left-brained or right-brained.
    This long-standing myth has been debunked. There is no evidence that people preferentially use one side of their brain more.2. MYTH: Cognitive decline is not impacted by choices or circumstances.
    We now understand that there are lots of things you can do that appear to fight cognitive decline: exercise, social interaction, good nutrition, brain stimulation and one-on-one brain training.

    3. MYTH: IQ cannot be changed.
    We now know the brain is “plastic,” that is, capable of changing at any age. And since IQ is simply a measurement of cognitive skills, stronger abilities translate into higher IQ.

    4. MYTH: Brain size determines intelligence.
    On average, the male brain is about 10 percent larger than the female brain, but it has nothing to do with intelligence.

    5. MYTH: Alcohol kills brain cells.
    It’s not that brain cells are being killed off by excessive alcohol consumption, it’s that the dendrites (which help cells communicate) are being damaged.

    6. MYTH: Some people are just destined to be bad at math.
    Struggles with math, called “dyscalculia,” are often caused by weak cognitive skills, which can be trained. Brain training works on the skills needed to learn, process and recall math-related information—such as visual processing, working memory and logic & reasoning.

    7. MYTH: Dyslexia is about reading letters backwards.
    Dyslexia simply means “trouble with words” and even smart kids can be dyslexic. In people with dyslexia, the weakest cognitive skills are often phonemic awareness and auditory processing, although other areas may suffer as well. Personal brain training can target and train these weak skills.

Who’s to Blame for a Bad Report Card?

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Report cards.

Seldom have two words caused such anxiety for both students and parents. For some, poor grades can reflect feelings of inadequacy (as a student or a parent), worries about being held back a grade, or fears of not getting into a good college.

Who’s to blame for learning struggles?

For parents, these feelings can manifest as blame: blaming their child, their child’s teacher, and/or themselves. And while many people assume that less-than-stellar grades are a reflection of poor teaching, lack of intelligence, student laziness, or poor parenting, these assumptions are almost always untrue.

The truth is that bad report cards are not a reflection of IQ. In fact, many struggling learners have higher-than-average IQ scores. IQ assessments measure an average of the combined strength of all our cognitive skills—the underlying tools we need to successfully focus, think, prioritize, plan, understand, visualize, remember, solve problems, and create useful association. These skills include things like attention, visual and auditory processing, memory, logic & reasoning, and processing speed.

It’s very common for a student to have an average or above-average IQ score and a learning problem at the same time. For example, a child who struggles with reading may have a severe deficiency in sound blending and phonemic awareness (two sub skills of auditory processing), and be well above average in other cognitive abilities. When you lump it all together, it’ll look like there’s no problem because the IQ score is average (or even above-average. In fact, that high score is masking what could be a serious problem.

What about genetics?

It’s not surprising that parents who struggled in school themselves often experience anxiety over their children’s report cards. Concerns may stem from parents’ hoping that their children get better grades than they did. Parents may also fear that they’ve somehow genetically passed on their learning struggles to their offspring.

Certainly, genetics can contribute to a small part of learning struggles (like some reading difficulties); but the majority of learning struggles are simply the result of weak cognitive skills. In a way that is good news, since weak cognitive skills can be targeted, trained, and strengthened. They are not “set in stone.”

So how do you strengthen weak cognitive skills?

Cognitive skills training (also known as “personal brain training”) incorporates immediate feedback, intensity and loading, among other features. The most effective brain training starts with a cognitive skills assessment to identify weak skills, then uses customized programs of fun, intense mental exercise to strengthen those weak skills.

Unlike tutoring, which is academics-based, brain training is skills-based. While tutoring can be effective when a student has fallen behind in specific subjects (such as history) due to an illness, injury, or family move, cognitive training targets the underlying skills needed to perform tasks (like reading) that make learning easier in any subject.

If your child is struggling in school, take the first step toward helping your child become a more confident learner by having his or her cognitive skills assessed. Cognitive testing usually takes an about an hour, and can pinpoint the weak skills that are making learning (and life!) harder than it needs to be. Click on the link below to find a LearningRx center near you and speak with someone about scheduling a cognitive assessment.