Cognitive Solutions offers one on one and group programs in the summer aimed at developing students’ processing abilities, executive functions, and academic weaknesses. Our programs are highly individualized, and designed to help our students reach their full potential. Our programming is designed for students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD), learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia), or executive functioning difficulties in Chicago, Illinois. Contact us at 773-755-1775 or email@example.com for more information on our summer remediation programs.Learn More
Learning Specialist – Isn’t that just a tutor?
By Ari Goldstein, Ph.D.
Tutors have existed for as long as man. Elders helping the younger generation learn the skill sets necessary to survive in their environment. Of course, early tutoring focused more on gathering food and creating shelter than on memorizing math tables. Fast forward to our test driven and memorization based school curriculum. Students have to absorb and repeat mountains of information on a regular basis. They have to work quickly, efficiently, and a strong competitive sense emergences in most classrooms from an early age. Most parents feel their children need to keep up, and some are concerned with even “Average” performance. As a result, Americans spend billions of dollars each year for tutoring support for their children.
A tutor is a very useful tool for many students. Tutors help their pupils learn facts, study for tests, and become more fluent and efficient with a range of academic tasks. But what happens when those academic deficiencies are driven by difficulties processing information? Does the tutoring work? My clinical experience would indicate that often it does not. When students come to Cognitive Solutions Learning Center in Chicago, many are initially assessed to better understand their processing and functioning through a comprehensive evaluation. Having information about how the brain processes information is highly useful when planning how to best help a student remediate areas of processing difficulty. Specialized interventions can be designed which are aimed at developing a student’s underlying cognitive and processing deficiencies. This makes the process of tutoring much more targeted and effective.
Tutors come in all shapes and sizes, with a wide variance in education, background, and experience. They range from high-school and college students looking to make some extra money to retired teachers who love helping children, and everywhere in between. How well a tutor can help a student often depends on their experience and their ability to develop a strong rapport. But what they can do is often limited. Without understanding of and intervention with underlying processing deficiencies, many students will not make the expected levels of progress they are working so hard to gain. This frequently leads to frustration on the part of the student, the tutor, and the teachers and parents.
A learning specialist is someone who typically possesses a minimum of a Master’s Degree in a special education related field. The have extensive experience reading and interpreting psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations, and are able to use these documents to create intensive and effective remediation programs. Many work as special education teachers in the school system, and develop private interventions for students in after-school hours. Learning specialists work to strengthen underlying brain processing, at the same time helping the student develop a strong academic skill base.
A student who has difficulty reading will often begin work with a tutor. They will typically work to develop stronger fluency, decoding, and compression skills. But what if the student isn’t making progress in this work? What if all the repetition and multi-sensory teaching are not working? That is where an understanding of processing can better assists a learning specialist in their work. Many students who struggle to read have some form difficulty with their their auditory, visual, or executive processing systems. A learning specialist will work to develop reading skills in a manner similar to a tutor, however they will also design and implement a targeted intervention to address any underlying processing deficiencies. This might include auditory processing work, expressive or receptive language development, visual tracking and visual motor work, or executive skills development. Strengthening how the brain processes information while at the same time developing academic skills makes for a powerful and effective remediation program. The same processing difficulties can be true for students with a range of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Often times, difficulties processing information through one of the systems mentioned is a strong underlying factor in their struggles to learn. Students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) often have executive deficiencies that can be strengthened through targeted work with a learning specialist.
While tutoring is beneficial for many students who simply require some extra practice or “brush up” on skills, it is often ineffective for students who struggle to develop learning skills. These students frequently see far better outcomes when their academic interventions are designed more broadly to target and strengthen areas of their brain that aren’t properly processing the world around them.
At Cognitive Solutions, many students come to us after multiple unsuccessful attempts at tutoring. Our learning specialists create highly individualized remediation plans, and work with students to strengthen academic functioning, processing capacities, and self-esteem. For more information on Cognitive Solutions Learning Center in Chicago, please feel free to visit us online at www.helpforld.com.Learn More
When I was growing up in the 1970’s, there were always boys who were hyper. They couldn’t control their behaviors, responded impulsively to everything placed in front of them, and acted as if driven by little motors constantly running full speed inside their bodies. There were also boys who stared off into space on a regular basis, seeing a whole movie playing behind their eyes. There were girls who flitted around the room like social butterflies, and those who gazed out the window seeing a movie of their own.Learn More
“Mens sana in corpore sano”
Exercise to Treat Depression and Improve Overall Life Satisfaction
“Mens sana in corpore sano” is well known Latin quote meaning “a sound mind in a healthy body”. Here at Cognitive Solutions, we see patients whose symptoms range from mild to severe depression, and after our evaluations with those patients, we offer a comprehensive intervention plan that includes non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical related recommendations to help ease symptoms of depression. Medications are the fastest way to improve symptoms of depression, but these can sometimes cause debilitating side effects. It seems so simple, but time and time again studies show the effectiveness of excursive in treating depression. While this may be a simple solution, it is by no means easy. The relationship between body and mind has interested experts for many years. Since physical activity is critical in sustaining life, it is generally understood that exercise functions as a form of survival. Exercising has been a strongly associated factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many researchers have explored the effects of exercise on the body, and recently psychology research has also attempted to find a correlation between exercising and mental health.
Exercise can be defined as “any type of physical activity, aerobic or anaerobic, with the means of integrating the mind, body, and spirit”. This definition alone makes apparent the association between exercise and the mind (and therefore mental health). The general thought is that exercise has physical and psychological benefits, which is why it has been so helpful in maintaining overall health. One factor which makes it difficult to compare previous research studies is the method in which exercise is measured. Some studies actively randomized a sample into exercisers and non-exercisers, while others first distinguished exercisers from non-exercisers before proceeding to ask specifically about duration and intensity of exercise. Some even used a scale to determine the amount of exercise in which one participates regularly. Some studies have reported that a lack of exercise is correlated to depression in a broad range of ages. Researchers have even found that those who are unable to exercise because of a physical illness or handicap reported higher depression scores than all others. Studies often show that physical fitness itself is a factor contributing to the mental health of regular exercisers.
In addition to the satisfaction gained from performing athletic exercise, its effects on one’s body play an obvious role in the modification of mental health. In one study, overweight subjects were found to have poor perceived mental health, high negative affect, and low optimism. The same participants were also at higher risk for future unhappiness, low positive affect, life dissatisfaction, and depression. The relationship between exercise and mental health has been a topic examined by many psychologists. However, the specific areas of mental health affected by exercise have been questioned throughout these researcher’s trials. Different aspects of mental health in relation to fitness have been examined. Some of these aspects include anxiety and, as previously mentioned, depression.
Reports that those who exercise tend to be less anxious and depressed than those who do not exercise. It seemed that in all the recent studies, exercisers were happier and more satisfied with their lives than non-exercisers, regardless of gender or age. Other studies have examined psychological factors such as rage and trust issues. Overall, studies show that people who exercised regularly experience considerably less depression, anger, cynical distrust, and tension than those who exercised less often or did not exercise at all. Health in mind and body is not a phrase to take lightly and there is evidence to back it up. Increase your endorphins the natural way – get that body moving!