My daughter’s math report when she was 16 was, “Daisy is wasting her time and mine” Her math teacher’s exasperation was evident but so was Daisy’s baffling inability to retain the building blocks of mathematical processes. I thought about Daisy while listening to Mel Levine, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School, lecture on “Heavy Brain Traffic: the Busy Underpasses and Overpasses Connecting Learning with Behaviors, Feelings and Aspirations”. I wished that I had heard him when she was still struggling at school. If I had I would have realized that the failure of underlying neurological processing needs to be considered as a reason for underperformance at school before allowing your academically capable child to be labeled lazy or defiant.
Dr Levine’s strength as a lecturer is that he explains clearly and succinctly the neurological steps that need to take place for a child to perform even the simplest school task; if you can’t remember what you read while you’re reading it then comprehension is going to be a challenge, if you can’t organize yourself each day becomes a minefield of lost objects and missed assignments – as he said, if you have to write a book report by Tuesday then it helps to realize that you need to get a copy of the book before Tuesday. By addressing the dysfunctions in memory, expressive language, organization and prefrontal cortex development children can be taught what other children know automatically and start to perform to their abilities.
Looking round the auditorium of rapt New York mothers I realized that Dr Levine was speaking to the concerns we all had as parents of school age children and the reason he was able to fill the 92nd Street Y was that to all of us, in his practical, down to earth way, he gave hope.
For more information see Dr Levine’s website: http://www.allkindsofminds.com