About Language-Based Learning Differences
In the first decade of the 21st century, the emerging science of neurocognition brought us new interpretations about how children learn, some with important implications for educational practice. Among the most critical research findings are those that help us better understand children (and adults) who struggle in school, particularly those with language-based learning differences. Their differences (and often, their extraordinary gifts) are rooted in their neurobiology – the nature of their brains.
In most people, the left hemisphere of the brain is larger than the right. The rest of the population either has a larger right hemisphere, or parity between the two regions. Often the larger right hemisphere is highly specialized, and these people show great gifts through their creative, expressive, or athletic talents. However, when placed in situations where the analytical skills of the left hemisphere are required – like processing language or deciphering mathematical expressions – these people often experience profound difficulty that can betray their abilities and talents.
Children and adults struggling in this way may be diagnosed with a language-based learning differences, which may include dyslexia, dysgraphia, and/or dyscalculia. Children with language-based learning differences face significant obstacles in schools, where instruction is often delivered in large groups with a lot of distractions, and usually by teachers who lack specialized training to support their learning needs.
These students are wired differently, and they approach things differently. They’re intelligent, and often highly intelligent; but for generations, they have struggled and failed in schools because we did not know how to help them learn. Now, we do.
Intensive Intervention Works
In order for children with language processing challenges to learn, they require a specialized, highly structured, intensive educational program that’s delivered in an individualized setting, which literally builds new pathways in their brains over time.
After a period of about four years in our program, and with the assistance of a number of readily-available learning tools, young people who once were among the most severe drop-out risks are able to transition to and prosper in general education and even honors-level coursework.
In fact, because of their pronounced creative and intellectual gifts, children who overcome language-based learning differences frequently emerge from effective learning support programs to become top students in high school and college.