Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Part 3 To Learn or Not to Learn - Major Patterns of Specific Learning Difficulties

To Learn or Not to Learn - Major Patterns of Specific Learning Difficulties
By Dr. Charles T Krebs

Part 3 continued:

Different learning tasks, therefore, require access to different types of functions, and different degrees of integration of these functions. Some of these functions are located predominantly in the Gestalt/right brain, while others are located predominantly in the Logic/left brain. The more complex learning tasks like reading and spelling require access not only to functions in both hemispheres, but the integration and simultaneous processing of information in both hemispheres. Therefore, if you can access all brain functions in both cerebral hemispheres with equal facility and can integrate all these functions well, you will probably find learning easy!

However, if for any reason you cannot access certain brain functions or have difficulty integrating the functions accessed, you may well have difficulty performing tasks dependent upon or involving those specific brain functions. From our perspective here at The Life Enrichment Center, all specific learning difficulties result from this lack of access to specific functions or the inability to effectively integrate these functions. Depending upon how well a person can access certain Gestalt and/or Logic functions, he will demonstrate one of the patterns of specific learning difficulties briefly discussed below.

Major Patterns of Specific Learning Difficulties, Based on How Well Logic and Gestalt Functions are Accessed:

The most commonly observed specific learning difficulty is Gestalt dominance in processing information or Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). People with this pattern of learning dysfunction have good access to most Gestalt functions, but only poor access to Logic functions, with Gestalt processing the predominate mode used for performing all tasks. Because of this Gestalt dominance in processing information, the normal balance provided by complementary Logic functions is largely absent. These people, therefore, often display the following behavioral symptoms:

Gestalt Dominance in Mental Processing (Attention Deficit Disorder):

* tendency to be impulsive.
* little appreciation of the connection between “cause” and “effect”: I want to do X so I do it, never thinking, “What will happen if I do!”
* difficulty budgeting time: Because of this and difficulty concentrating, projects are often left incomplete and organizational skills are poor.
* difficulty concentrating: “Concentration” is merely paying attention over time. If there is no “sense of Time”, attention cannot be paid over it?
* difficulty spelling: Generally spelling is phonetic by putting letters together until it “sounds” like the word.
* difficulty with mathematics: Difficulty remembering times tables and/or understanding mathematical concepts.
* reading may be fluent, but there is often poor comprehension of what was read: Interpretation of symbols (Gestalt) may be accessible, but there is difficulty assigning meaning to the words/symbols interpreted (Logic).
* often well coordinated or even gifted athletically. Remember: Gestalt functions control body awareness and orientation in space.

It is precisely because of the above symptoms that people displaying Gestalt-dominant processing are found to be “atten-
tion deficit”. Attention Deficit Disorder is assessed by having a person perform a series of sequential tasks, any one of which the person can do easily. However, people suffering from A.D.D. will not be able to complete the series of tasks, not because they cannot perform them, but rather, because they lose concentration or are easily distracted.

Much less common than Gestalt dominance is Logic dominance in decision-making processing. People who access their Gestalt functions poorly, but have good access to Logic functions are the “true dyslexics” by standard psychological definition. That is, they display the following four behavioral symptoms:

Logic Dominance in Mental Processing (Dyslexia):

* cannot spell or do so entirely phonetically by putting letters together to “sound” like the word is said.
* have great difficulty reading: Usually stumble over words, mis-read words, or just cannot “sound” words out. However, comprehension of what was read is often excellent.
* display dysrhythmia, an inability to clap or tap a tune.
* are physically uncoordinated or “clumsy”.

In addition, these people are usually good at mathematics at least to the level of algebra, display good concentration, and
follow sequential directions well. However, they may have to be taught things that other people learn unconsciously.

The next most common type of learning difficulty after Attention Deficit Disorder or Gestalt Dominance is poor or limited
access to both Gestalt and Logic functions. This pattern is usually associated with a great deal of confusion in cerebral
processing and creates the greatest learning difficulties. If a person has good access to either Gestalt or Logic, but poor access to the opposite side functions, he can at least compensate with the functions he does access well! However, if their are major deficits in both Gestalt and Logic functions, then the ability of the brain to compensate for these deficits is extremely limited. The following behavioral symptoms result from this pattern of access:

Limited Access to both Gestalt and Logic Functions (Real Problems):
* language development often extremely delayed for age: For instance, an eight year old child that only recognizes 3 letters and 2 numbers.
* reading very delayed for age: Often difficulty even recognizing words, or word recognition a real struggle.
* spelling very delayed for age: Often cannot spell words with more than 3 or 4 letters.
* difficulty understanding numbers, even basic arithmetic: Often have difficulty with learning to count, concepts of adding and subtraction, knowing the days of the week, etc.
* no concentration or focus: Appears away with the “fairies”.
* person appears confused/lazy or just plain “slow mentally”: Often fairly apathetic and lethargic with no zest for life.

We generally only see these people as children in early adolescence. Because of the extreme nature of their learning dysfunctions these people have normally been dismal failures in school and have departed the academic scene by their early
teenage years.

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