Greater Good

Lighting the Way
to Learning Success

Article by Shannon Stewart Salinsky

We are all unique, so we all learn differently. Every person deserves to have the way they learn be understood, supported and accepted—whether in school or on the job. Celebrating 14 years of helping struggling learners find their way, The Learning Center of North Texas (TLCNT) is a local non-profit organization which provides support and understanding for anyone struggling to learn—along with advice, assistance and hope. Every person deserves a community that honors the competencies and potential of their learning style. Those challenged by learning issues need to understand how they can learn best and how they can use their unique strengths to achieve success.

Sheldon H. Horwitz, Director of LD Resources & Essential Information at the National Center for Learning Disabilities once said that learning disabilities are not a prescription for failure and with the right kind of instruction, guidance and support—there are no limits to what individuals with learning disabilities can achieve. The potential for success for individuals with learning disabilities underscores the need for identification of learning disabilities, understanding of the disability, appropriate instruction and advocacy at every level.

ABOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES | More than a “difference” or “difficulty” with learning, a learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. Learning disabilities most often fall into three broad categories—reading, language and math. A range of other related categories include disabilities that affect areas such as memory, visual and auditory processing, and executive functions such as initiating or shifting from one task to another. LD will vary in how it impacts each individual child, adolescent and adult.

Current attention to Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has brought much needed focus on how to identify those disorders and help individuals meet the challenges they present. Although they are separate from LD, they have many shared characteristics; and assessments and strategies for accommodation address the distinct and sometimes overlapping features of each.

Learning disabilities are lifelong issues even though those affected can learn to maximize their strengths and accommodate the difficulties. Stephen Spielberg, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in adulthood, was quoted in ADDitude Magazine, a magazine dedicated to those living with ADHD and learning disabilities. “You are not alone, and while you will have dyslexia for the rest of your life, you can dart between the raindrops to get where you want to go. It will not hold you back.”

Identifying learning disabilities is critical for children and adults to get the support they need to experience success in education and employment. For children, early identification through a formal evaluation process may help to qualify the child for services essential to ensuring progress in school. Public schools are required by law to offer appropriate evaluation services. However, many parents opt to seek independent evaluation as an alternative, especially to achieve a greater depth of understanding of the child’s learning profile.

TLCNT SERVICES OFFERED | The Learning Center of North Texas offers comprehensive diagnostic educational evaluations for children age 4 through adults to uncover learning differences and disabilities such as dyslexia, problems with memory, math, or writing, speech and language; ADHD; Asperger’s and autism. The evaluation gives an individual learning profile, with strengths and weaknesses, tools and strategies to maximize learning skills in school or on the job. Evaluation follow-up support services include academic tutoring, dyslexia tutoring, speech therapy, Highlands Ability Battery aptitude testing for high school students approaching college or employment, and college coaching.

In addition, The Learning Center offers brainbased professional development for educators, such as Schools Attuned to All Kinds of Minds, to improve their skills in teaching and understanding all learners in their classroom, including those with learning differences and disabilities. Since 2001, over 4,000 educators in Texas have been trained to teach all kinds of learners through this acclaimed program. Another important program offered through TLCNT’s is the Adult Services Division, which works closely with area agencies that serve adults in education and employment. This work includes evaluation, mentoring and instructional support for students and program staff, and professional development for adult educators. Resources for adult educators are available on the website, and resource information for adults in the community is also available.

FULL EVALUATION | TLCNT’s full evaluation is distinguished by its in-depth examination of the whole individual. The process begins with gathering information from significant people in the individual’s life—parents, a spouse, and teacher. TLCNT’s professional diagnosticians select the range of tests to be used based on the individual’s needs in the following categories:

â€Â˘ Cognitive (Thinking)
â€Â˘ Achievement (Performance)
â€Â˘ Personality Styles/Preferences
â€Â˘ Attention and Learning Difficulties
â€Â˘ Speech/Language
â€Â˘ Asperger’s/Autism

Other assessments are given on an as-needed basis to further diagnose specific areas such as reading, listening, language, executive functions and visualmotor abilities. The program’s licensed psychologist can provide diagnoses such as ADHD through an additional consultation.

EVALUATION REPORT | After the evaluation is completed, diagnostician and client meet to review the results of the assessment and follow-up plan of action. The comprehensive report includes a profile of cognitive abilities and academic strengths and weaknesses, and offers strategies to improve performance at school, college or work.

FOLLOW-UP ACTION | An array of services are offered to address learning needs identified through an evaluation such as academic tutoring, dyslexia tutoring, speech therapy, academic coaching, Brain Gym®, college coaching, and Highlands Ability Assessment for ages 14 to adult for college and career direction.

HOW TO HELP | Donations enable The Learning Center of North Texas to make its services available and affordable to the greater North Texas community. In particular, the Center maintains an evaluation sliding scale fund to enable families and individuals of all economic levels who need an evaluation to afford one. To donate, please visit www.tlcnt.org.

The Learning Center is in the Mallick Tower, 101 Summit Ave., Ste.612, Ft.Worth, (817) 336-0808, www.tlcnt.org