Cecelia McCarton Leads Symposium on Learning Disabilities
can I tell if my child has a learning disability?” “Will my
son be stigmatized if he is officially classified as LD?” “I’m
applying to schools for my daughter. How upfront should I be
about my daughter’s learning difficulties?” These were just
some of the questions addressed to a panel of experts at the
first symposium on Learning Disabilities presented by Resources
for Children with Special Needs, Inc. (RCSP), and co-sponsored
by the Parents League of New York and the NYC Parents in Action.
symposium aptly named “Needles in the Haystack: How to Identify
Learning Attention and Behavioral Problems Your Children Might
Have” consisted of a panel of experts on learning differences.
These panelists addressed a packed auditorium of concerned
parents and teachers recently, at the Park Avenue Christian
included such experts on learning styles as Judith Birsh, President,
NY Branch, International Dyslexia Association, Dr. Alan Wachtel,
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine,
Joshua David Sparrow, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard
Medical School, and Dr. Paul B. Yellin, National Director,
Student Success Programs, All Kind of Minds Institute. Dr.
Cecelia McCarton, the founder and director of the McCarton
Center for Development Pediatrics, moderated the panel. Special
surprise guest Dr. Berry Brazelton, the renowned pediatrician,
was present and sat with the panel.
Disorders covers a wide range of conditions that affect the
way children learn. Some of the most common problems include
dyslexia, a neurological condition that creates difficulties
processing language, and often affects a child’s skill in reading,
writing, spelling, handwriting and sometimes arithmetic, and
attention deficit disorder, the inability to sustain attention
for periods of time. Asperger syndrome, another condition that
is receiving more attention, is a neurological disorder that
manifests itself as a deficiency in social and communications
skills. These children have normal intelligence, and can relate
facts, but are unable to express or exhibit feelings. One panelist
described children with this syndrome as “not good with humor.”
times children with one or more of these learning differences
are mislabeled as lazy, inattentive or daydreaming. They begin
school on par with other children, but slowly fall behind.
One panelist told the story of a young patient identified with
dyslexia describing herself as, “a sailboat without wind.” In
class, she felt like “everyone was green while I am red. “None
of these conditions has anything to do with a child’s I.Q.
These children simply process information in ways not taught
in a traditional classroom setting. If left unchecked these
children can suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and often
go through childhood feeling like failures. Dr. McCarton underscored
the importance of diagnosis. It’s also important to be honest
with the school [about your child’s deficits], she stated.
panelist offered pointers on ways parents can determine if
their child has a learning difference. Parents must be inquisitive;
they must look for “windows in your child’s life” to find clues.
Parents can gain hints to their children’s progress by looking
through their children’s backpack, going to school and looking
in their desk, observing their after school activities, and
noting how they relate to other children or friends. The best
rule of thumb is to trust your instinct. If you think there
is something wrong, there probably is. Once you determine your
child has learning or behavioral problem, the next step is
how to proceed to get a proper diagnosis and seek proper treatment.
T. Berry Brazelton is one of the pioneers in learning differences.
He began working with infants and families 25 years ago. Based
on his research and clinical practice, he founded the Brazelton
Institute whose goal has led to the development of innovative
service delivery models that target the changing health needs
of children and families in today’s society.#
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