Child Behavior Problems

Learning Disabilities

When You Know You’re Bright, But Your Memory Lets You Down.

As told to Sara Schwartz

“How many times do I have to repeat myself?” an annoyed Mrs. Bergenstein said. “The whole class is ready to move on, but Chavi decided to daydream so now I have to repeat myself for the sixth time.” I cringed, somehow it was always my fault that the class was held up. I really had the best intentions but Mrs. Bergenstein simply didn’t understand me and my fuzzy brain.

I wasn’t daydreaming. I’d concentrate when a new concept was being taught but somehow my brain never retained the information and five minutes later I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what she had just said. It also didn’t help that when Mrs. Bergenstein did repeat herself all my classmates used it as a perfect opportunity to whisper amongst themselves, prompting me to lose my concentration again.

I left school that day extremely despondent and sad. How would I ever learn anything if everything went in one ear and out the other? I walked through the front door of my house and almost ran into my mother. “Chavi, I just got off the phone with Mrs. Bergenstein,” she said. “I’m worried about you. She said you’re always daydreaming and fidgeting, and that when you do seem to be concentrating she still needs to repeat herself a million times before anything stays in your brain. If you are actually focusing then how is it that you’re unable remember anything she says? It makes no sense to me!” My mother was right, but I had no answer. It didn’t make sense, but I couldn’t explain it except to say: “I really don’t know, it’s just the way my brain works. What should I do? I want to learn but it’s impossible.” I may not have had an answer, but my mother sure did. “Suri was just telling me about this amazing program that her daughter just completed. It works with the brain and helps cure processing disorders. I wonder if they can help you,” she said.

My mother called the Neurolinks office and set up an evaluation. “Chavi, you’re a bright girl,” explained Mrs. Yehudis Klein who runs Neurolinks’ Brooklyn branch. “You appear to be suffering from three main problems – focusing, cross pattern, and figure ground issues. This means that firstly you have difficulty keeping your eyes and mind on a specific task without losing concentration; secondly you have poor auditory memory which means that you need to be told things many times before you remember them; and lastly you find it difficult to focus on a specific task when there are distractions around you.” I was amazed because everything Mrs. Klein described I could relate to. It finally all made sense, not just the problems I was having in school but at home as well. It explained why every time my mother asked me to set the table I’d head to the kitchen and then forget why I was there or why I couldn’t remember how to play chess even though my father had explained the game to me dozens of times. The Neurolinks program would require considerable effort on my part as I’d have to go to the Neurolinks office once a week for six months and work at home each day, but frankly I was ready to try anything!

Fast forward six months, and I am a different person. My grades have improved tremendously and I’m now an active participant in the classroom. The teacher never has to repeat herself, and it has been months since she’s complained about my daydreaming. I don’t get distracted and I’m able to keep my mind on a specific task without losing concentration. At home, I no longer forget what was asked of me, and I’ve become an avid chess player. Thanks to Neurolinks, I’m ready to graduate this year and just received my acceptance letter for seminary in Eretz Yisroel!

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About the Author: Honey Soibelman