04 May 2017
As told to Leah Cohen
I had just sat down with a steaming cup of coffee when the phone rang. It interrupted my morning routine, a ten minute hiatus from my busy life; treasured time between seeing the kids off to school and my first client of the day. It was Sara’s teacher: “Mrs. Wolf, I’m so glad I caught you. Sara’s behavior is really out of control, I know it’s only second grade but things are out of hand. I’m also concerned because academically she’s struggling, her reading is very weak and math is causing her misery. I believe she’s a great kid with real potential, but we urgently need to talk.”
From that day on, I spent every spare minute on the phone to psychologists, tutors, and behavioral therapists trying to help my oldest daughter. However it seemed that we were making only minimal progress and I was at a loss at how to continue. I was spending thousands of dollars on all these professionals, but Sara’s situation seemed stagnant. Merely hours after she’d apologize to her teacher for misbehaving, promising she would do no wrong again, she found herself back in the principal’s office with another strike against her name. She was a good kid at heart, I knew it. She wanted to behave properly, and was constantly apologizing, but she didn’t seem to comprehend the consequences of her actions. I can’t even count the number of school trips, special activities, and awards Sara missed out on because of her poor behavior. Quite frankly, I had had enough and so had the school.
It was clear that Sara had problems understanding cause and effect, and conceptualizing concepts. This played out not just in her behavior but also in her weak academic performance. She found it difficult to understand math and science concepts, due to her inability to see cause and effect, and patterns. She thought very literally; to Sara life was black and white, and no shades of grey.
It was only after years of behavioral therapy and tutoring that one therapist recommended Neurolinks. “I believe that the program focuses on processing issues and uses exercises to strengthen the connections in the brain,” she said. “Sara is turning 15 years-old and you’ve tried everything. If she was my daughter I’d give this a try; the program comes highly recommended.”
I scheduled an evaluation for Sara, and it turned out she was a perfect candidate for the program. “Sara has difficulty with pattern discrimination, so although she can readily identify certain shapes for example, she is unable to categorize things and understand how they interrelate. Her issues with math stem from her inability to see complex patterns and concepts as units, so she is unable to understand why a particular answer is the correct one,” explained Yehudis Klein of Neurolinks Brooklyn. “Sara also has difficulty drawing individual conclusions from concepts. This explains why she continues to reoffend even after apologizing for her previous misconduct and promising not to misbehave again.”
Neurolinks was a serious investment of time and money, but I’m so glad we decided to go ahead. After six months, Sara is now a new person and loves her new self. She looks forward to school, and no longer gets sent out of the classroom for misbehaving. She is an active member of the classroom, constantly helping other students and giving the teacher a hand. Perhaps most surprisingly, her grades have gone up tremendously, so much so that she is able to tutor her younger sister. In fact the best part is that she now dreams of becoming a teacher herself!