5 Reasons Why Your Child’s Attention Problem Might NOT be ADHD

Jeremy wiggles constantly in his chair.  It keeps him from getting his work done and is very distracting to the students sitting near him.

Manny talks to his neighbors all the time instead of doing his work.  He’s always interested in what everyone else is doing, but he can’t seem to pay attention to his own work.

Sara tries really hard to be “good.”  She sits up tall and looks right at the teacher.  But pretty soon, she’s fiddling with things on her desk or staring straight through the teacher.  When it’s time to start working, Sara always has to ask, “What were we supposed to do?”

Rachel never knows what she’s supposed to do for homework.  She uses her planner, but what she’s written is incomplete and doesn’t make a lot of sense.  If she does do her homework, she usually can’t find it when it’s time to turn it in.

Jessica is getting Ds and Fs in high school.  She can read, write, spell, and do math but she doesn’t pay attention in class, does poorly on tests, and doesn’t get her work done.

What do these students have in common?  Each of these children has trouble paying attention in class, yet

Not one of them has Attention Deficit Disorder.

Good attention and efficient learning depend upon a solid foundation of underlying learning skills

The vast majority of students who come to our learning center have some challenges with attention, but only a small minority are truly ADHD.  Successful, easy learning depends upon a solid foundation of underlying learning skills.  These skills include the following:

Developmental Learning Skills:  These are basic visual and motor skills that help children develop a sense of self, internal organization, and body and attention awareness and control.

Processing Skills:  These are skills such as attention, memory, auditory and visual processing (how we think about and understand things that we see or hear), processing speed, language comprehension, and phonemic awareness (the thinking process critical to reading that supports learning and using phonics).

Executive Function: This is our personal manager that guides and directs our attention and behavior.  It helps us reason, problem solve, organize, and make decisions.

Poor attention in class may be a symptom, not the real problem

If a child has problems with any of the underlying learning skills, his attention system will also be stressed.  While attention may become a problem in school or with homework, it may not actually be the real problem.

5 Students
Five Different Learning Challenges Affecting Attention

Jeremy, our wiggly, distracting student can’t sit still in his chair because of a retained primitive reflex called the Spinal Galant.

Primitive reflexes are involuntary movements that are present in infants to help with the birth process and adaptation as a newborn.  If these reflexes don’t “disappear” within about the first year of life, they will continue to fire and cause neurological interference that inhibits efficient development and easy learning.

Jeremy’s retained Spinal Gallant reflex causes him to wiggle in his chair when he doesn’t mean to.  When he tries hard to sit still, it takes all of his attention, so he can’t really think about what the teacher is saying or what he’s supposed to be doing on his assignments.

Manny is dyslexic. He’s very smart and very clever.  He has memorized some words, but he can’t sound out new words and sometimes when he looks at the page, it seems like the words and letters are moving around.  At nine-years-old, he’s already figured out that getting in trouble for “entertaining” his neighbors is better than anyone knowing he can’t read.

Sara has an auditory processing problem. She tries so hard to listen, but what she’s hearing is spotty and inconsistent, like a bad cell phone connection.  She tries to fill-in the gaps, but pretty soon, it just doesn’t make sense and she can’t keep her attention on it anymore.

Rachel has poor visual memory skills. When she tries to copy down assignments, she has to look back and forth so many times between the board and her planner, that she often loses her place and misses part of the information.

It takes her longer than the other students, so she often doesn’t finish because its embarrassing to have to stay after class copying the assignment.

When Rachel does her homework, she sticks it in her backpack.  The problem is, she can’t hold a picture in her mind of exactly where it is, so when it’s time to turn it in the next day, she can’t remember where she put it.  Well-meaning teachers and family have suggested that maybe Ritalin would help her pay better attention.  They don’t realize that Rachel is paying attention, but her visual memory is not supporting her well enough to remember the information.

Jessica has weak processing and executive function skills. She’s pretty sure her parents and teacher are right when they say she’s lazy and unmotivated because she just can’t seem to pay attention and get her work done.

Weak underlying processing and executive function skills can keep a capable student from being able to pull it altogether to perform as expected.   They struggle to keep up and have inconsistent homework grades and test scores.

Addressing the root cause of the poor attention symptom
can eliminate the problem

All five of these students were able to solve their attention and learning challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that were not supporting them well enough.

Jeremy went through Core Learning Skills Training to integrate his retained reflexes and improve his body awareness and control.  He no longer stands out in class.

Manny went through a specialized auditory stimulation and reading program to develop his phonemic awareness and ability to look at the words on the page without getting disoriented.  He can now understand how the sounds in words work and has learned to read and spell.  He’s putting his strong verbal abilities and humor to use in the school play.

Sara went through a program of Auditory Stimulation and Training to increase her auditory processing skills.  She is able to listen to her teacher and her friends now without getting exhausted and missing information.  She no longer feels lost and anxious and is able to be the good student she always tried to be.

Rachel received training in various visual processing, visual memory, and organization skills.  She can now copy from the board and use her planner accurately most of the time.  She is more organized and can remember where her homework is in her folder.

Jessica did an intensive processing skills program called PACE and before she finished the 12-week program, she had brought her grades up to As and Bs.

Don’t ignore attention problems in school

Problems paying attention in class can be a sign to parents that their child is struggling in school.  This should not be ignored.

But parents and teachers should be aware that whenever an area of underlying processing or learning skills is inefficient, extra energy will be needed to perform. This stresses the person’s attention.

It is important to look very carefully to determine if the attention challenges seen in class are the cause of the learning problem or the symptom.

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“Mental Boot Camp” Can Improve SAT Scores, Student Success, and Even Change Alertness and Memory in the Over-50 Baby Boomers

Tyler was a motivated high school junior, potential Ivy League football player, and solid AP (Advanced Placement) student. But he was “SAT-Challenged!”

Jessica was also an excellent student in her junior year in high school, but her test anxiety was so great it could only be controlled with prescription medication.

Cheryl is a 50-something baby-boomer with more and more of those embarrassing “senior moments” that leave her at a loss for names and having trouble finding the words she wants to say.

Ryan is a 12-year old dyslexic learner, bright but struggling to read and write.

As diverse as these four individuals seem, they can all be helped with mental fitness, or cognitive skills, training.

Recent brain research indicates that the brain can continue to grow and change throughout our lifetime. The kinds of skills needed for

· quick thinking and problem solving on the SAT,

· relaxed, efficient retrieval of information for tests,

· sharp memory and thinking as we age, and

· overcoming learning challenges

are learned cognitive abilities that can be improved with training.

Tyler ‘s Story: Conquering the SAT

Tyler was a good student and a good football player. He was being looked at by scouts from Ivy League colleges. However, his SAT scores were nothing to brag about and he feared they would keep him out of the college he wanted to attend.

Tyler went to The Core Learning Group in Addison, Texas, where he lived, to see about getting some help. He scored so well on the screening test that the director of the center was hesitant to have Tyler make the investment of time and money.

Tyler and his family persisted and Tyler enrolled with The Core Learning Group for a 12 week course in processing skills training using PACE (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement). Here was the BIG result :

When Tyler re-took the SAT, his score improved by 200 points!

The SAT is as much about knowing how to think quickly, problem solve, evaluate, and apply knowledge as it is about knowing the material. The SAT time limits are the enemy of many test-takers. Students who do well on the SAT must be able to rapidly make good decisions so they can quickly spot and answer easier questions, leaving more time for the tougher ones.

For Tyler , as with many other college-bound students, the stress and length of the test was enough to compromise his performance. After completing the PACE program of cognitive training, Tyler had the speed and confidence to overcome these challenges.

Jessica’s Story: Overcoming Test Anxiety

Jessica, a high school junior, was an A student in advanced placement (AP) classes. In spite of being a top performer, she had extreme test anxiety that had to be managed with a prescription medication. Her parents really wanted to get her off the medication, but Jessica was afraid to because she “didn’t want to screw up her classes.”

Jessica enrolled in PACE, an intensive processing skills program. PACE develops cognitive skills in 24 specific areas including auditory and visual processing, short and long term memory, processing speed, attention, logic and reasoning, visualization, and association. Many of the activities are done to the beat of a metronome, which enhances processing speed, internal organization, and quick decision-making. For Jessica, activities were worked on at such a fast pace that she couldn’t afford to split her mental energy with anxiousness.

Jessica finished the PACE program in the Spring of her junior year. She went into AP calculus the following September and began scoring higher than anyone else in her class on her tests. Her classmates began calling her “The Brain.”

Jessica attributes her success to PACE. It showed her that she could perform without anxiety and gave her the skills to hold numbers and formulas in her head. She was amazed at how strong her ability to do mental math had become.

For Jessica’s parents, the PACE program help Jessica develop skills that allowed her another kind of success: She was able to get off of her anxiety medication!

More About the PACE Program

PACE is a cognitive skills training program that builds mental tools for thinking and learning. Recent research on the brain and learning suggests that mental exercises can increase the connections between brain cells, making thinking and learning quicker and easier. The brain seems to work a lot like a muscle. The more you work it the more it grows.

PACE is about working the brain. It is intense because intensity produces the quickest results, and it is motivating because students can see changes so quickly.

PACE was developed by a team of professionals in various fields related to learning. It develops skills in the following areas:

Attention: the ability to stay on task even when distractions are present.

Divided Attention: the ability to attend to and handle two or more tasks at one time. Such as: taking notes while listening, carrying totals while adding the next column

Sequential Processing: the ability to process chunks of information that are received one after another.

Simultaneous Processing: the ability to process chunks of information that are received all at once.

Logic and Reasoning: the ability to reason, plan, and think.

Processing Speed: the ability to perform cognitive tasks quickly; an important skills for complex tasks or tasks that have many steps.

Working Memory: the ability to hold and recall small amounts of information about the current situation until it is used or stored in long term memory; Holding information in your memory while deciding what to do with it.

Long Term Memory: the ability to retrieve past information when needed. This is important for spelling, comprehension, and test-taking.

Auditory Processing: The ability to take-in and think about information that is heard. This includes phonemic awareness, the ability to judge the number, order, and identity of sounds in words. This is a critical underlying factor in reading and spelling.

Visual Processing: The ability to perceive, analyze, and think with visual images. This often includes visualization, which plays an important role in comprehension, math word problems, and mental problem solving.

Increasing School Success

The unifying theme of successful older student who have participated in the PACE program has been that it saves them time.

These busy high-achieving students are often involved in sports, community service, and school functions. After PACE, they often come away so impressed by their efficiency with schoolwork and their own ability to manage their time.

College students who have previously been in special education or who were mediocre students in high school, and who have been afraid they “couldn’t cut it” in college, have consistently reported cognitive skills training to be unbelievably helpful in boosting their confidence, motivation, and school performance.

Cognitive Training for Struggling Students

Students who experience learning challenges usually have areas of inefficient processing, which are interrupting expected academic development. In order to make real changes in their learning, we need to explore the underlying skills critical to academic and social success . These include skills such as:

· Memory

· Attention

· Processing Speed

· Auditory processing, language, and communication

· Phonemic awareness

· Visual processing

· Logic and reasoning

· Internal timing and organization

· Motor coordination and sensory integration

Weaknesses or inconsistencies in one or more of these areas can cause difficulties with efficient learning. Cognitive skills training programs such as PACE have consistently been shown to improve student’s underlying thinking/learning processes in order to bring independence and success into the learning process.

Keeping the Brain Fit as We Age

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, awareness of brain health has dramatically increased. Several outstanding books have been written recently by medical doctors who outline steps for maintaining mental sharpness and treating and preventing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s. The steps consistently include:

· Nutrition,

· Exercise,

· Sleep,

· Meditation or relaxation exercises, and

· Brain Training

The brain is a powerful resource. At any age, we can stimulate our cognitive skills for more efficient thinking and functioning!

Here are a few good resources for further information on brain health:

The Better Brain Book by David Permutter, M.D.

Making a Good Brain Great by Daniel Amen, M.D.

The Memory Prescription by Gary Small, M.D.

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Lazy Is NOT A Diagnoses – Clues To “Lazy” Students

I recently sat down with the parents of a high school student who has managed to barely get by in school.  When we finished an in depth testing process we discovered he has some serious learning problems.  His parents told me with aching regret, that in the past, they had punished their son and taken things away because they had been told that his poor performance in school was due to “laziness and a behavior problem.”

Have you ever seen one of these kids that look lazy?

Maybe they always have their head on the desk.  Others just never seem to be able to get started.  Or maybe they just seem tired all the time, moving slowly, working slowly, barely able to muster any energy until it’s time for recess, P.E., or lunch.  When asked about homework, they might say they didn’t have time, or didn’t have the right book, or maybe even say they just didn’t feel like doing it.

When teachers have gone “above and beyond,” done all they can do and the student doesn’t appear to be trying, lazy is often the only obvious conclusion left.

What we know about students is that if
they could do the work, they would do it.

Not doing work is really embarrassing, and no student wants to be embarrassed.

So what is it with these lazy-like kids? Difficulty learning usually has its root in one or more areas of inefficient processing or thinking, which are interrupting expected academic development.

Believe it or not, the developmental foundation for learning begins in utero.  There is a developmental continuum that depends on each skill/ability building on the group that develops before it.  If there is interference in this development, even at the earliest levels, it can affect school performance.

Let’s take a look at just one of these interferences.

Primitive Reflexes

The Central Nervous System is the control center for all development and learning.  Its job is to facilitate a person’s ability to move well, speak fluently, play, and develop skills for living and learning.

Primitive survival reflexes, or automatic movements that occur without thinking, begin as early as 9 weeks in utero and are fully present at birth.  These reflexes are necessary to help the baby with the birth process and with survival during the early months of life.

As the nervous system and the brain continue to develop after birth, new neurological connections are made and higher functions in the brain take over.  The primitive reflexes are not longer needed and in fact, get in the way of the child’s thinking and learning if they remain active.

Remember, these reflexes are automatic (like a baby becoming startled or grasping your finger).  They occur without thought.

Efficient learning depends upon more complex voluntary controlled movements and higher thought processes, so primitive reflexes need to become integrated and inactive.  This should occur naturally by about 9-12 months of age.

When primitive reflexes are retained, they can cause neurological interference that affects motor control, sensory perception, eye-hand coordination, and thinking, producing anxiety and causing the person to have to work too hard and with less efficiency than would be expected. This is called neuro-developmental delay.

Dr. Lawrence J. Beuret, M.D., of Palatine, Illinois has developed an NDD checklist, clues that a delay may be occurring, which includes these risk factors::

Pregnancy and Birth:

  • Complications with pregnancy, labor, or delivery
  • Low birth weight (less than 5 pounds)
  • Delivery more than 2 weeks early or late
  • Difficulties for infant at birth:  blue baby, difficulties breathing, heavily bruised, low Apgar scores, distorted skull, jaundice


  • Feeding problems in the first six months
  • Walking or talking began after 18 months
  • Unusual/severe reactions to immunization
  • During first 18 months: Illness involving high fever, delirium, convulsions

Family History:

  • Reading/writing difficulties,
  • Learning disorders
  • Motion sickness
  • Underachievers

The following learning challenges can be related to neuro-developmental delay:

  • Dyslexia or Learning Difficulties, especially reading, spelling and comprehension
  • Poor sequencing skills
  • Poor sense of time
  • Poor visual function/processing skills
  • Slow in processing information
  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Inability to sit still/fidgeting
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Easily distracted and/or impulsive
  • Hypersensitivity to sound, light, or touch
  • Poor posture, coordination, balance, or gait
  • Poor handwriting
  • Clumsiness/accident prone
  • Slow at copying tasks
  • Confusion between right and left
  • Reversals of letters/numbers and midline problems
  • Quick temper/easily frustrated/short fuse
  • Can’t cope with change/must have things a certain (their) way
  • School Phobia
  • Poor motivation and/or self esteem
  • Depression, anxiety or stress

Behavioral, self esteem and motivational problems are associated with this list.

Core Learning Skills Training

Movement is an integral part of learning.  The kinds of movements needed for learning are intentional and controlled.  For example, visually following an object with the eyes, holding a pencil, moving the mouth to form sounds and words, or kicking a ball all require intentional control of the muscles.  According to Dr. Samuel Berne, O.D., “when this neurological control of the muscles follows an unconscious reflex instead of following intention, the movement pattern becomes confusing instead of becoming an automatic learned skill.”

In order for comfortable learning to occur, basic physical skills such as balance and being able to use both sides of the body (right-left and upper-lower) together in a coordinated fashion must be in place.  With stimulation through specific kinds of movement activities, primitive reflexes can be integrated so that the neurological and motor systems are more available for higher level movement and thinking tasks.

We frequently have students who have great difficulty maintaining good posture while sitting in a chair.  At first glance, it looks like a motivation or attitude problem, but our work with reflex integration and core learning skills training has shown us that these students simply don’t have the muscle control to do what is asked with any consistency.

What Can Be Done

In a clinical setting, we have developed a program called Core Learning Skills.  It focuses on the integration of five primitive reflexes that are core to efficient learning and functioning.  It also includes activities for vestibular stimulation, motor development, visual skills development, attention awareness and control.

As students participate in Core Learning Skills Training, we see that they begin to appear more mature, motivated, and attentive because they are no longer battling inefficient movement patterns and are gaining automatic motor control.

In a classroom setting, there is a series of  movements you can use with your students.  These can take as little as 5 minutes and help prepare the brain for learning.  While these are not specifically for reflex integration, doing these movements will give students greater focus and ability to use the skills they have in a more efficient way.

The program is called Brain Gym by Paul Dennison.  You can find this resource at braingym.org.

Becoming a Successful Student

Being a successful student involves many skills.  When a child is struggling in school and a little extra support isn’t making enough difference, it is likely that there is something in the developmental learning skills or underlying processing skills that is interfering with academic success.  In most cases, these skills can be developed so that efficient and comfortable learning can take place.

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How to Win the Homework “Battle”

Almost every parent has experienced the homework battle at one time or another. For some it’s a daily occurrence that leaves the parent or child or both in tears.

In most cases, it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we will explore 3 ways to bring peace back to the family and get homework done in a reasonable amount of time.

1 – Start By Establishing Routines and Structure!

Humans are creatures of habit. If we create good habits and routines around homework, there will be much less argument and negotiation.

Designate a set time when homework will be done.

This will solve a multitude of problems. If the child knows that everyday from 3:45 – 4:45 is homework time, it will become a part of the everyday routine. If it’s “what we always do,” pretty soon, no one expects anything different.

Ideally, you want to have homework time be the same time everyday. Determine the time with your child. Does she need a snack or a little down time before she starts? How much time will that take?

Look at the child’s needs, the typical amount of time homework takes, and the family activities. Then if at all possible, designate the same time everyday for homework. If this is not possible due to parents’ work schedules or other activities, create a weekly schedule where the homework time may vary from day-to-day, but there is a designated time each day of the week.

Stick to your designated homework schedule. Don’t let anything take priority. Do not schedule appointments or take phone calls during this time. Nothing gets priority over homework during the set homework time!

Children are often guilty of saying, “I don’t have any homework today.” This may or may not be true. Sometimes, students forget their materials, forget to write down their assignments, conveniently forget, or just find it easier to say they don’t have homework.

Whether the child has homework or not, the designated homework time is for homework.

If the child has no homework from school, homework time should be spent studying for spelling tests or other upcoming tests, working on long-term assignments and book reports, doing free-reading, or writing in a journal. This preserves the homework time routine and helps remove the temptation of saying there’s no homework when there in fact is.

Many schools, particularly middle schools and high schools have instituted a Homework Hotline which provides parents and students with the homework assignments in case they are unsure of what was assigned for the day.

At the elementary level, having another family from your child’s class that you can call to check on what the homework assignment is when there are questions can be very helpful.

2 – Set the Stage for Success

Set up a specific space for studying. The space should be:

  • Well-lit
  • Quiet
  • Free from distractions
  • Clear of clutter
  • Stocked with all of the materials needed.

Having a clear work space with all necessary materials at hand, such as pencils, ruler, and lined paper reduces the need to get up and waste time or get distracted looking for materials.

Determine and create the space together with your child. The more your child is involved in the process, the more he “owns” it. Stocking his own desk with his materials can be fun and motivating.

3 – Avoid a Power Struggle

Getting Started with a Homework Routine

From the time children enter the first grade, they are expected to do homework. If your child is very young, setting up a homework space, time, and routine will be quite easy. If you stick with it throughout your child’s schooling, making minor adjustments each school year, the structured, standard routine will help you avoid many homework battles.

If your child is a little older, or even a teenager, creating a new way to approach homework will not be accepted as easily. However, it can and must be done if getting homework done is a battle in your home.

At a calm and neutral time, not in the midst of a homework conflict, sit down with your child and discuss and plan the new homework routine.

As a parent, you are in charge, and complying with the homework routine is not an option, but the child should feel heard and should be involved in the process of developing the routine. Here’s an example of how you as a parent might approach the child:

“Trying to fit homework in and get it all done has been pretty hard for us as a family. We are going to make some changes that I believe will help us all.”

“Together, we are going to decide on a specific time and space that will be for homework. Nothing will get in the way – no phone calls, no video games, no appointments. We will all honor this time.”

“Once we decide on a time and space, I’m going to ask that we all try it for two weeks, exactly as we plan, with no complaining. Then, we will sit down and talk again and decide if we need to make any adjustments. This is something that we are going to do. It’s not going to be an option, because it’s my job as your parent to help you be successful. But your ideas are important and we’ll keep adjusting to make sure it’s really working for you.”

This kind of approach lets children and teens know that while this is not negotiable, they are a part of the team.

Stay calm and objective.

Now that your homework routine is established, implement it calmly and objectively. Don’t argue or negotiate.

When your child whines or pleads that just this time, she needs to make an important call to a friend during the homework time, calmly say, “This time is for homework only. You can make your call at ____ o’clock.”

To help with interruptions from phone calls, a part of your homework routine may include turning all phones, including cell phones on silent. Instant Messenger type services on the computer should be turned off during homework time. Set-up these parameters in advance.

For younger children, or those who have trouble comprehending time or shifting activities, try using a timer. About 15 minutes before homework time is to begin, set the timer for 12 minutes and let the child know that when the timer goes off, he is to clean up whatever he is doing and immediately go to his homework space. If the child tries to argue or complain, calmly say, “I’m sorry you’re in the middle of that, but the timer went off. It’s time to move to your homework space.”

Calmly and consistently reinforcing the routine keeps you from having to get upset or be the bad guy.

Set Clear Guidelines and Reward Children for Following Them

Kids often think that watching T.V., playing electronic games, chatting with friends online, or using their cell phones are their rights, their entitlement.

We need to re-frame their reality. Their job, as kids, is to get an education and become well-adjusted, productive adults. Our job as parents is to help them get there.

So here are the rules:

  • Students go to school and do their best.
  • They follow the homework routine at home.

Watching T.V., playing electronic games, chatting with friends online, using their cell phones, etc. are privileges that are earned by following the rules, or by doing “their job.”

Teachers and parents must actively notice and praise students for doing their job. It’s a hard and time-consuming job that children have. It needs lots of recognition from everyone involved.

For the complete FREE report, Winning the Homework Battle, contact Malibu Learning Center (310) 804-3704 or email [email protected]

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Good Learners are Good Listeners

Is your child’s learning disability actually listening disability?

You have heard about the link between auditory processing and reading.  In fact, if you have been a regular reader of this newsletter over the years, you might be sick of hearing about auditory processing!

But as time does on, the link becomes more and more evident.  Studies are being done and books are being written that emphasize the importance of auditory processing in learning to read, communicating with oral and written language, and developing adequate social skills.  I have seen this verified over and over in our clinical work with students.

As we have worked in this area, I have been continuously reminded of the wholeness of learning and of the learner.  I have previous written about the auditory system, (“Breakthroughs in Auditory Processing” at www. Learningdisability.com) and its connections not only with the language center of the brain, but with the vestibular system (our system of balance and movement), and the automatic functions of the body (respiratory, digestive, and eliminatory).

When we use sound therapy to stimulate the auditory system, we find the results to be more global than the original goals of increasing phonemic awareness, reading, or language skills.  Improvements in handwriting, posture, sleep habits, communication, social skills, confidence, calmness and math are a few of the peripheral changes we have seen.

Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a French ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat specialist), discovered in the early 1950’s that the ay we listen has a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.

He also discovered that many learning problems are the direct result of listening problems.  He distinguished hearing from listening, indicating that they are actually two different functions of the ear.

  • Hearing is the passive perception of sound.
  • Listening, on the other hand, involves the desire and ability to focus on selected sounds; to choose what sound information we want to attend to so that we can process it in a clear and organized manner.

Listening is closely related to attention and concentration, and integration, understanding and retention of auditory information, and therefore, critical to learning.

What happens when a person’s hearing is good, but their listening is poor?

Surprisingly, pool listening can affect a wide number of areas.  Canadian Listening Therapist and author Paul Madaule has put together a checklist of abilities or qualities that relate to listening skills.

There is no score, but this tool may be helpful evaluating an individual’s ability to listen, and therefore to learn.  This checklist is reprinted here with the permission of The Listening Center 599 Markham Street., Toronto, ON M6G 2L7 (Tel: (416) 588-4136, Fax: (416) 588-4459, www.listeningcenter.com

Listening Skills Checklist

Developmental History:
Our early years

This knowledge about our younger years is extremely important in early identification and prevention of listening problems.  It also sheds light on possible causes of listening problems

  • A stressful pregnancy
  • Difficult birth
  • Adoption
  • Early separation from the mother
  • Delay in motor development
  • Delay in language development
  • Recurring ear infections
Receptive Listening:
Our external environment

This type of listening is directed outward to the world around us.  It keeps us attuned to what’s going on at home, at work, in the classroom or with friends.

  • Short attention span
  • Distractibility
  • Over-sensitivity to sounds
  • Misinterpretation of questions
  • Confusion of similar-sounding words
  • Frequent need for repetition
  • Inability to follow sequential instructions
Expressive Listening:
Our internal atmosphere

This is the kind of listening that is directed within us.  We use it to listen to ourselves and to gauge and control our voice when we speak and sing.

  • Flat and monotonous voice
  • Hesitant speech
  • Weak vocabulary
  • Poor sentence structure
  • Overuse of stereotyped expressions
  • Inability to sing in tune
  • Confusion or reversal of letters
  • Poor reading and comprehension
  • Poor reading aloud
    • Poor spelling
Motor Skills:
Our physical abilities

The ear of the body (the vestibule), which controls balance, muscle and eye coordination and body image needs close scrutiny also.

  • Poor posture
  • Fidgety behavior
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated movements
  • Poor sense of rhythm
  • Messy handwriting
  • Hard time with organization, structure
  • Confusion of left and rights
  • Mixed dominance
Level of Energy:
Our fuel system

The ear acts like a dynamo (a powerful motor), providing us with the “brain” energy we need to not only survive but also to lead fulfilling lives.

  • Difficulty getting up
  • Tiredness at the end of the day
  • Habit of procrastinating
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tendency toward depression
  • Feeling overburdened with everyday tasks
Behavioral and Social Adjustment:
Our relationship skills

A listening difficulty is often related to these qualities of interacting with others

  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Poor self-confidence
  • Poor self-image
  • Shyness
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Tendency to withdraw or avoid others
  • Irritability
  • Immaturity
  • Low motivation, no interest in school/work
  • Negative attitude toward school/work

At the Learning Center, we use Samonas Sound Therapy to stimulate the auditory system and improve listening and listening-related skills.  As students become better listeners, they have also become better learners.  Her is one story:

John came to the learning center as a 7 year old.  He had been diagnosed with apraxia, which affected his gross motor coordination, graphomotor skills (handwriting), and oral motor skills.

When he started, John showed extreme difficulty with any fine or gross motor movements, organization, or coordination.  He had difficulty articulating sounds and words and difficulty expressing himself in a way that others could understand.  He was obviously very bright, but had difficulty with social and language comprehension.  He had huge amounts of uncontrolled energy and serious attention problems.  He could attend to a task for only 10-15 minutes with re-direction.

He was a non-reader, had trouble making friends, and had poor self-esteem.

After 4 weeks of sound therapy, John had better control in swimming; more eye contact; clearer, more controlled language; and had begun asking questions about conversations and other things in general.

After 6-7 weeks of sound therapy, John was using larger words and more mature sentences and questions.  His sentences were no longer fragmented.  He showed dramatic improvement in artwork (from scribbles to drawings), and showed better motor coordination.  He started doing front and back somersaults in the pool, with control.  He wrote a note on his own for the first time and posted it on his bedroom door.  His self-esteem was reported as high!

John’s learning skills improved dramatically as a result of his listening therapy.  His increased attention, motor coordination, articulation, communication, and auditory and language processing abilities allowed him to be ready for further processing skills development and academic skills.  John is now reading at grade level!


amonas Sound Therapy is a music and sound stimulation method that focuses on re-educating the ear and auditory pathways for increased attention, communication, listening, and sensory integration.  This is accomplished through the use of specially modified classical music and nature sounds that stimulate the hearing mechanism to take in a full spectrum of sound.

Samonas was developed by German sound engineer, Ingo Steinbach.  With his background in physics and music, Steinbach combined the principles of Dr. Alfred Tomatis with advances in technology and physics to develop the Samonas recordings.

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