Meeting the Needs of Learning-Delayed Students: Neuro Touch
The most impactful ways that non-profit Neuro Touch Inc. supports families dealing with a child’s learning delay is to share resources and educate them on the types of questions to ask.
Neuro Touch’s founder and CEO, Heather Lascano, said these resources can vary according to the needs of the parent or family that requests help. “Books, websites, government outlets or services, local professional referrals, other non-profits, therapists, attorneys, school tours, state or federal laws and direct support (school or home meetings),” she said.
Help for learning-delayed children involves educating everyone who supports them
Neuro Touch’s mission is to educate everyone who plays a role in the progress of a learning-delayed child and bridge communication between them. Ideally, all eyes and ears will be wide open, with complete understanding and a clear dialogue about a child and his or her learning.
The organization consults on many types of learning delays, including:
- PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), also referred to as autism spectrum disorder
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- ADHD (Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder)
- Sensory processing disorders (SPD)
Neuro Touch’s educational process varies according to the needs of the family and child, including questions to pose to therapists and school staff. “There could be time spent clarifying legal language used in the school paperwork (IEP/504/FBA) and perhaps what the expectations are for the supports and why,” Lascano said.
Introducing families to support services for learning delays
When working with families new to the support services area for a small child, the organization’s consulting would include education on the meaning of medical terminology and how it translates to daily home life, school functions and support services such as data gathering, data mining or progress monitoring.
Another consulting opportunity exists in discussing the supports at home. Often, many different services are thrust upon a family, Lascano said, but they don’t include a full understanding of expectations or how service can be supported in daily life skills, actions in the home, by other family members, and adjusted to mirror what is being addressed outside the family.
Consulting with parents on depression or anxiety related to a learning delay
What’s becoming more common, Lascano said, are queries on depression or anxiety that co-occur or what the family regards as distinct from their child’s learning delay diagnosis.
It’s not clear to her why there is an increase in questions relating to depression and anxiety. “Instead of speculating on why it happens, the focus is to address the direct needs of the family asking for help,” she said. “Again, the needs vary here.”
For example, if parents were told that their child is displaying anxiety in preschool and the school recommended additional input, families might go online to narrow down a diagnosis for their child. Neuro Touch could consult with this family to determine data gathering in the home, dissect behaviors and the role others play, obtain a historical perspective on the family or child, clarify the information shared from the school, and then determine next steps.
How can special education teachers bridge connections between themselves, children and families?
What should educators do to meet the needs of every child? “Bridge connections. Connect with the child to educate yourself on their personal struggles and gains,” said Lascano. “Connect with the family to communicate where you come from and why. Connect with other teachers, administrators and professionals to gain insights and ideas or troubleshoot.”
Educators should see unique aspects of every child
Lascano believes it’s important for educators to see the unique aspects of every child. “Even twins process information and sensory input differently. Each twin can have different perceptions of themselves along with their homes, families, friends, schools and ways in which they process sensory input,” she said. “It’s that unique biology that led me to study the human body throughout my professional career.”
Open dialogue can close the communication gap
Connection should happen through open dialogue. “Sometimes that means with the child,” Lascano said. “Sometimes it’s with the family members. Sometimes it’s confirming an approach with another respected educator or staff member. Sometimes it’s with another professional — therapist, consultant, coach, clergy.”
Fostering community connection boosts learning progress
Ultimately, the larger a learning-delayed child’s support network is, the easier it will be for him or her to progress. “Schools, classrooms and teachers could obtain significant, impactful supports from larger subsets of the community through this open dialogue,” Lascano concluded. “There are caring people that make up their neighborhoods and want to see their neighborhood school support the local kids.”
Erin Flynn Jay is a writer, editor and publicist, working mainly with authors and small businesses since 2001. Erin’s interests also reach into the educational space, where her affinity for innovation spurs articles about early childhood education and learning strategies. She is based in Philadelphia.