Local woman brings ‘too well-kept secret’ to Northern Ireland to help combat ADHD, Dyslexia and related learning difficulties.
You get a call to your child’s school from the principal who complains that they’re just not applying themselves, their concentration is poor and that their behaviour is just becoming too boisterous and disruptive to their classmates. Sound familiar? This is the experience of a number of parents across Northern Ireland who find themselves exasperated that their seemingly bright and lovely child just won’t ‘pull their socks up’ at school – and that all is not quite right academically and socially.
The provider of the new Northern Ireland branch of a successful learning programme was once that parent. Having left school in tears after her son’s Year head advised that he was very concerned and worried at his lack of concentration and general attitude and that if he didn’t “pull his socks up” within two weeks he would be in danger of losing his place in his year’s top stream.
But the harder he tried, the worse things seemed to get, the distraught child told her.
Searching ‘low concentration’ on the internet, Susan Steele from Newtownabbey followed the threads of information that eventually led to the lifeline that was to change her family’s life forever – more importantly her son’s life - this enabled the boy to well and truly pull his socks up!
Initially an A* pupil, by the end of First year of secondary school the child was slipping – he had ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – but after a year of a special exercise-based programme, his life was turned around and he’s now preparing for his GCSEs. Given the understanding he’d needed to think straight, he told his mother he felt like “weetabix had been removed from his brain”.
“I feel as if I’ve been given half my body back,” he’d told his grateful parents.
The programme so amazed his mother Susan that she felt she had to help others in her situation and is now offering others the same lifeline her family experienced. As a result, she established Learning Support Services NI which has been effectively “turning the light on” for children labouring under the burden of ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
HOW IT WORKS
Learning Support Services NI provides the Learning Breakthrough Programme developed by American scientist, Dr Frank Belgau who formulated a series of balance stimulation exercises to nurture the underlying structures of human intelligence.
Those balance stimulation activities change the brain by correcting the malfunctioning neural systems that cause children to have learning disabilities.
Based on a programme consisting of a daily routine of balance and co-ordination exercises for 15 minutes, twice a day, the regime involves a kit including a specially-designed balance board, visual motor control stick, pendulum ball and bean bags among other items. The programme also comes with a programme instruction handbook and work-along DVD.
Structured and fun exercises are integral to the programme which uses knowledge, based on studies of the vestibular system – our balance – and how it affects brain processing and sensory integration. Studies have shown that activities involving balance can have a significant impact on motor skills, visual performance, reading, learning efficiency and academic performance.
Prospective students, young and the not so young, begin with an in-depth evaluation which covers the symptoms associated with the full range of learning difficulties. This helps to establish which areas in their lives an individual would like to improve.
The Equipment used is simple, however, a commitment is required from parents and their children. Full support and encouragement is provided throughout the process and the individual continues with the exercises until they reach their full potential.
For some this will take a year, others will only take six months - everyone is different and will have different difficulties and needs.
Success that speaks for itself
The parents of children who have undergone the Learning Breakthrough Programme reveal how it has children’s lives so much for the better. One adult, 28-year-old Stuart speaks for himself.
The five-year-old boy:
“Brendan has a developmental and speech delay and is currently on a referral list for ADHD. Brendan would be very repetitive in his speech continually asking what he is doing next and where he is going - as if his brain is running ahead of him. Brendan started on the Learning Breakthrough programme just over a month ago with Susan and I adapting the exercises to meet our four year old's capabilities. My husband and I have noticed he is a lot more calmer, he is not as repetitive in his speech and seems happier. He is now saying a few nursery rhymes from start to finish (maybe missing just 1 or 2 words) which he had not been able to do before starting the programme. His attention has improved and he will now watch a short DVD. He is also now beginning to be more imaginative when playing with his toys and will say sorry when he knows he has been a bit bold. Brendan wants to do the exercises each day which is a big plus so fingers crossed for a bright future.”
The 12-year-old girl.
“We all dreaded the homework. On many occasions when Ashleigh was completing her homework she got herself into inconsolable states, crying and hitting her head off the edge of the table and continuously muttering that she was stupid. We found this painful to watch but nothing could be done to help with Ashleigh’s poor self-esteem.
Since meeting Susan and introducing Ashleigh to the Learning Breakthrough Programme our lives have changed. Ashleigh has been on the programme for just over six months now and she has quickly skyrocketed at school and is experiencing being top in her class in all her subjects (a first). She organises her homework diary and completes her homework well within the time, independent and with ease (no more tears).”
“I’m dyslexic and I’ve tried that many things over the years I was quite sceptical. I have been through everything; I’ve worn the glasses, used the coloured paper, had light treatment. My mum was very proactive and as soon as she heard of anything she’d have me try it; money was no object but I could see as a child that it never really got any better and these things weren’t working very well.
“The first couple of months after starting the programme I didn’t really notice much of a difference but then it really kicked in and now every week I’m really building it up.
“To it’s like when I was about a 15-year-old and I’m learning everything now that I should have learned then.
“I wish I could have done this when I was 11,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Susan will be hosting an 'ADHD/Dyslexia Awareness Evening' at Corr's Corner Hotel, Newtownabbey on Wednesday 11 May at 7pm. Please register your interest in attending at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Susan on Tel: 07790 245145.
For more information please contact Susan directly by email or telephone or visit the website at www.learningsupportservicesni.co.uk