Making Progress with Learning Disabilities

Breakthrough for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities
Dyslexia is one of the most misunderstood conditions of our time. People who suffer with it have been suspected of being lazy, stupid or accused of simply not trying.

There are many different definitions of dyslexia. One of the most common is the inability to process language, be it reading, writing or speaking. Another definition is an inability to reach one's full potential. For example, a child may be doing well in math or science but is doing poorly in reading. This condition not only causes problems in learning at school, but affects many other areas of life as well.

The following are some of the symptoms that may occur:

  • Difficulty in any area of academics, including math, reading, spelling, writing and science
  • Difficulty in understanding words in normal conversation 
  • Inability to relate to people, especially in groups 
  • Poor or non-existent sense of direction; getting lost easily 
  • Little or no sense of time 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Loss of balance causing many falls and accidents 
  • Poor motor co-ordination resulting in constantly bumping into and dropping things 
  • Speech disorders such as stuttering, hesitant speech and inappropriate use of language 
  • Inability to remember details such as names, numbers, dates etc. 
  • Dramatic mood swings 
  • Need to re-read the same paragraph many times to understand it 
  • Difficulty following more than one instruction at a time 
  • Difficulty in following motion or moving things (balls, traffic, people) 
  • Indecisiveness 
  • Feelings of inferiority, stupidity, clumsiness 
  • Inability to organize daily activities, particularly in allotting proper time 
  • Doing opposite of instruction

Everyone who has a learning disability is affected differently and seems to manifest different symptoms.

Because of these diverse symptoms, dyslexia has been thought to be due to brain damage, psychosis, inferior mentality and a vast array of conditions.

Causes of Learning Disabilities
Conditions such as anemia, hearing deficiencies, visual acuity deficiencies and other general health problems could be the underlying cause of some learning disabilities. The best approach in dealing with a learning disability is a multi-faceted one where all of these areas are explored and the appropriate help is given.

The most common area that is ignored when dealing with this problem and other health problems is interference with the nervous system. This is surprising because the majority of investigators have determined that this complex disability is a bewildering combination of disorganization within the central nervous system.
Research has shown that a startling number of learning disabled children have had some sort of trauma to the head. This could be caused by a difficult birth or from falls resulting in blows to the head.

Since 1971, Dr. John Upledger, D.O.F.A.A.O., has been researching the biomechanics of the skull. Dr. Upledger was a professor of biomechanics at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University, and there he was part of a multi-disciplinary team that did extensive research in this field. He has published articles in many medical journals such as Post Graduate Medicine and is recognized by many as one of the world's leading authorities on the biomechanics of the skull and its relationship to the nervous system. After examining and treating a significant number of children with learning disabilities, Dr. Upledger concluded that when brain dysfunction problems are due to a disturbance in the biomechanics of the skull, correction of this disturbance results in prompt and dramatic improvements in learning disabilities.

These are precisely my observations in treating approximately 2000 learning disabled children between 1985 and 1999. I have found that when there is neurological disorganization due to altered mechanics of the skull or upper cervical vertebrae, learning disabilities can result. When this is the case correct on of the structural problems which are interfering with the nervous system result in dramatic improvements in many of the symptoms described earlier.

Some very dramatic changes have occurred. The best respondents are children with average to above average intelligence who are having trouble in one or two areas (a child having difficulty in subjects related to reading but doing much better in other academic areas such as math or science). It seems that quite often the structural problems that are interfering with the nervous system may inhibit learning in certain areas. When these are removed, the child is able to quickly catch up in those areas.

Catch-Up - How You Can Help
If not treated at an early stage, chances are the child has failed to learn the basic materials which are fundamental to later learning. It is therefore necessary that the child be retaught these basics since he will now be in a position to learn and absorb this information. Also, the child should practice on his own as much as possible in the areas he was previously having difficulty in.

It is important that the functional problems remain stabilized, so periodic checkups are necessary. Any stress that the body is unable to adapt to can cause the structural problem to re-occur and a return of some of the symptoms. These stresses could include high fever, allergies, emotional and physical trauma – particularly head injuries. Also, food that contains white refined sugar, brown sugar or artificial sweeteners seems to cause immediate problems and should be avoided.

Cross crawl exercises either in place or as a march-type activity (right arm-left leg, left arm-right leg) are beneficial and in the beginning should be done 20 minutes per day. Blowing balloons or playing a wind instrument is good exercise which pumps oxygen to the brain and strengthens the diaphragm. This also should be done each day.

It is important that the proper environment be provided so the best possible results can be obtained. It is essential that the preceding suggestions are followed as well as giving lots of positive feedback and affirmation to the child. There are many other things that can be done to enhance the effectiveness of the treatments. This information will be presented in a spinal workshop and a nutrition and exercise workshop. It is strongly recommended that patients and/or parents attend both of these.

Outlook - What to Expect
The prognosis, or outlook, for a child who has experienced a learning disability varies considerably depending on its cause and the stage at which it is treated. Also, the intelligence of the child, home environment, diet, and a multitude of other factors will influence a child's progress.
Under optimum circumstances, correction of a functional learning disability has resulted in children excelling beyond all expectations. There have been cases where children have caught up several years of material in a matter of months. One child, in special education classes since grade one, was later tested and found to be intellectually gifted and was accepted into the gifted program at his school. Correction of the functional disorder provides the opportunity for rapid development and achievement.

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Stouffville Health Centre

6219 Main Street

Stouffville, ON L4A 8A4







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