The current issue of The Monthly features an interview with Polly Mayer, M.Ed., ET/A, Clinic Director of Raskob Learning Institute, a division of Holy Names University.
Here’s a brief excerpt of her conversation with The Monthly‘s Rachel Trachten in her article, “From algebra to the ABCs of casual conversation, experts ease the way for kids with learning and social challenges.”
“Start with the classroom teacher,” Polly Mayer advises parents who suspect a learning challenge. Mayer directs the Raskob Learning Institute Clinic in Oakland, affiliated with the Raskob Day School and offering educational therapy for children throughout the Bay Area. Mayer notes that challenges observed at home may or may not occur in the classroom. That’s why, Mayer says, “You want a mind meld, a collaborative approach of parent and teacher together.”
Public schools offer Student Study Teams (SSTs), where parents, students, teachers, and administrators devise classroom strategies together. “For some children, solutions can be as simple as sitting up close in the class, working standing up, or listening to books on tape,” Mayer says. Parents concerned about a possible learning disability can request—in writing—an assessment for special education from their school district. Some students will qualify for district services (such as a classroom aide or resource room time) or for accommodations (like shortened assignments or open-book testing) through an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or 504 Plan. If your child qualifies, wading through the bureaucracy is worth the effort.
Lose the stigma
“Even young children internalize school failure,” says Mayer, whose daughter has learning challenges. She encourages parents to seek help early and to destigmatize learning differences or disabilities. (These terms are not identical—“learning disability” is a criterion established by public school districts that allows students to qualify for services. The broader terms “learning difference” and “learning challenge” encompass specific diagnoses like dyslexia as well as undiagnosed concerns like trouble staying organized.) Mayer, who sent her daughter to an educational therapist and was happy with the progress she made, urges parents not to let the fear of a label prevent them from getting help. “Instead of thinking of a diagnosis as a stopping place that blocks a child,” she says, “consider it a door that the child and family can walk through to receive services.”
Learn more about Raskob Institute on their website: www.raskobinstitute.org »
Read the entire article at The Monthly »