Archive for March, 2017

No More Meltdowns in 5 Steps

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

You’re almost done with Saturday morning errands, you have just reached the supermarket, and then it happens: a meltdown! Meltdowns are not always about being defiant. Most meltdowns occur when a child feels out of control, or doesn’t understand a situation. Why are transitions so hard for some children? It’s not that they wouldn’t like to have dinner, or go to Grandma’s house. The reason is more likely that they were focused on a particular activity or expecting a certain routine, and your plan seemed to come out of nowhere. The good news is we have a few tips to help decrease meltdowns, and help you and your child feel more in control when things are about to get ugly!

1. Explain where you are going, when you are leaving and when you will return. We wouldn’t like to be taken to some mystery destination, and neither would our kids. Letting your child know what you’ve planned helps him to understand what to expect from the your outing.

2. Talk about potential disappointments and how we should react. You might remind your son about a time his favorite restaurant was closed and he got upset. “Last time you were disappointed when the pizzeria was closed, what should we do today if we our plans don’t work out?”

3. Make a game plan together. Discuss with your child ahead of time what is expected of him, what you as a parent can do to make him feel better, and what you will do as the one in charge, if the situation goes out of control. For example, I usually let my kids know why we are at Target, and what we are looking to buy. I then let them know what fun place we are supposed to go afterwards. Then I tell them, I am going to count each time you do something you are not supposed to do(being loud, not following directions). If I get to three, we will leave the cart, get in the car, and go home. On a good day, I might get to “one”, on a bad day, I might get to “three” just as we are leaving the store. Be consistent! Once your child knows you mean what you say, they’ll follow your plan too.

4. Ask your child how he feels. Sometimes the meltdown is just too much to handle right in the middle of a public area. Take your child to the car, or to a quiet place and talk it out. Let him know you understand that he is disappointed and ask him if he could explain what upset him so that you can understand better. Most children like to know that their parents are on their side. By acknowledging his feelings and trying to understand his point of view, you are showing just that! If your child is just too loud to reason with, don’t say a word or try to compete with his intensity, simply wait for him to calm down or wait for a pause so you can be the voice of reason.

5. If you know a particular place always results in tears and tantrums, you might consider not going there until your child is a little more mature. When he asks you why you haven’t taken a trip to that particular place, let him know the reason. You could say, “I don’t think we are ready for that store. It seems to upset you, and I would rather not go there.” Our children might not be aware of the consequences of their behavior. Not going to a fun place might be the necessary consequence for him to understand the importance of staying calm and using his words, rather than throwing a tantrum.

All children will throw tantrums at some point. Children with processing issues, ADHD, or Autism will have more frequent meltdowns. However with the right attitude and a lot of consistency we can survive and decrease the menacing meltdowns!

Camp Academia can help!  Call our office, 706-884-4492 to learn more.


Raising a Reader in a Few Simple Steps

Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

A child who can READ can LEARN! The process of learning to read is just as important as reading. Learning letter sounds, breaking down words, and later comprehending the meaning of sentences and passages are all key to cognitive development. Not being able to reach one of these milestones is often a signal to parents of a learning difficulty.

To help the process, parents can encourage a love of reading right from birth! Check out this acronym from

Look for new books and authors that your child may enjoy.
Organize an area dedicated to reading and writing tools.
Visit the library for story time and book recommendations.
Encourage your child to talk about what he’s read.

Talk to your child, and sprinkle interesting words into your conversation.
Offer a variety of books to read.

Read with your child every day.
Expand your home library to include magazines and nonfiction.
Ask questions if you’re concerned about your child’s development.
Decide to raise a reader!

The more you expose a child early in development to books and reading, the more likely that child will want to read. Another benefit of early exposure to reading is the fact that you can address reading issues sooner rather than later. Experts agree, difficulties in reading have a cognitive basis. The earlier the intervention, the more likely the child will be able to overcome learning challenges, and be able to achieve academic success.

A child who has dyslexia, ADHD, Language Processing, visual processing, or even who experienced an external challenge earlier on in life such as extreme poverty or health issues may find the process of learning to read difficult. Brainjogging can help! Whether the issue is a cognitive delay or a lack of exposure, the result is a brain missing the necessary connections to learn. Brainjogging’s patented exercises help to strengthen the pathways in the brain responsible for reading and comprehension.

Call Camp Academia at 706-884-4492 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about the Brainjogging method.

Spring forward without falling backward!

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
sleeping child

courtesy of pixabay

We’ve taken a vote and decided that the Monday after the Daylight Saving Time change should be a national holiday. Just kidding!

It would be nice to have that extra day to adjust to the new time, especially for families with children with ADHD, Autism, other processing, and behavioral issues. That one hour change can often throw off our kids’ systems for weeks and even cause a set back to steady progress. Changes in sleep patterns and routines affect everyone, with or without learning issues.  However, there are some ways to help kids stay on track even when their bodies are telling them otherwise.

1. Stick to routines

Children with ADHD, Autism, and other learning differences are already struggling to understand the world around them.  Adding an extra hour to the day can be difficult to process.  We can help keep anxiety low by keeping to our regular routines and schedules.  The less out of control your child feels, the easier the adjustment period will be for everyone.

2. Try shifting your child’s schedule by 10-15 minutes each day

Often letting a child know exactly what is about to happen is the best way to prepare for a new situation.  Forwarding the day by a whole hour fits into the “new situations” category.  About ten days before Daylight Saving Time Sunday sit down with your child and let them know that soon everyone will be forwarding their clocks forward and that as a family you will all be preparing for the time change.  Children with ADHD and Autism are often visual learners. You can even make a chart or mark your calendar with the new wake-up and bedtimes to clearly show them how the time will change.

3. Light blocking shades

Too much light at bedtime can be a problem for kids with learning disabilities.  Their internal clocks often use environmental cues such as sunlight or darkness to help them wake and sleep.  Try using sun-blocking shades to keep out the light in the evening to help children fall asleep and to prevent them from waking up too early.

4. Extra exercise

Encourage your child to play outside or take them to the playground.  Physical activity can improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration.   Also, studies have shown that exercise reduces stress by increasing the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.   The combined benefits of releasing pent up energy, and reducing stress can have a positive impact on helping your child adjust to time change.

5. Avoid extra stimulation in the evening, especially around bedtime.

Help your child’s bedtime routine by avoiding rowdy games, electronic devices and any other activities that may energize your child and prevent them from falling asleep.  Instead, encourage quiet games, reading, coloring, and other calming activities.  Screens should be avoided.  Artificial light from tablets and smart phones has been shown to interfere with the body’s natural sleep patterns and can slow down the production of melatonin, a chemical the body naturally produces to regulate sleep.  Individuals with low melatonin levels will have difficulty sleeping at appropriate bedtimes.

6.  Brainjogging

Brainjogging can help your child adjust to Daylight Saving Time too!  Make a wordlist using relevant words and short phrases to help your child understand what Daylight Saving is and how it will affect his day.  You can add some of the ways that you plan on helping him adjust.  Look out for our word list about Daylight Savings under “My Assigned Lists”.

Overall, it is important to be aware that the Daylight Saving Time change may affect your child’s sleep patterns and behavior.  Be prepared, have a plan, and be patient!


The Process that can Predict Babies’ First Words

Friday, March 10th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
baby at mealtime

courtesy of pixabay

“Say Mama!” “Say dog!” Sound familiar? Most parents use similar phrases to encourage their babies to talk. What if the words we speak weren’t the only factor in what and when our babies speak? Recent studies have shown that a baby’s first words are largely based on their visual experience. What they see is likely what they will say.

Psychologists at Indiana University studied infants between the ages of 8-10 months, the period before children begin to engage in verbal communication. The babies in the study had to wear cameras on their heads for an average of 4.4 hours. For the study, the researchers chose to observe mealtimes, recording five objects for each frame. Some of these words included, table, shirt, chair, bottle, cup, food, and spoon. The results of the study showed a strong connection between the most frequently appearing objects and first nouns, words that are acquired by half of all 16-month olds. According to this study, a child with slow or delayed visual processing, would also be a late-talker. (Clerkin)

What is visual processing?
When people think of vision, they think in terms of how well a person can see. But vision is much more than that. The brain, not the eyes processes the visual world, including symbols, pictures, and distances. Weakness in the neuronal connections involved in these functions is called visual processing disorder. The areas of the brain required for processing the visual world are not in sync. So, for a baby who is just learning about the world, not being able to process what is seen, affects the brain’s ability to identify objects in the environment. This results in the delay in speech.

Children with delayed speech are often sent for speech therapy. But if the cause of the delay is visual processing, what should be the treatment? How can you tell if the cause is visual processing?

• Are they being exposed to common everyday objects? Or are they simply not picking up visual regularities?

• How long can they focus on an object or activity?

• Does he pay attention to visual tasks?

• Is she easily distracted by too much visual information?

• Does he bump into things?

• Does she frequently rub her eyes?

If your child does any has any of these behaviors, you will want to take him for evaluation. The sooner a processing order is diagnosed the sooner the child can begin the needed the therapies. For any learning difficulty or developmental delay, early intervention is key.

How can you tell if an older child has visual processing disorder? (All of the above apply.) Here are additional symptoms seen in older children:
• Restless or inattentive during visual presentations
• Lacks interest in movies or television
• Has difficulty with tasks that require copying such as taking notes
• Reverses or misreads letters, numbers, and words
• Has difficulty writing within lines or margins
• Can’t remember phone numbers
• Poor reading comprehension when reading silently
• Skips words or entire lines when reading
• Complains of eye strain or frequently rubs eyes
• Fails to notice changes in bulletin board displays, signs, or posted notices

Can Brainjogging help?

Yes! The Brainjogging method focuses on strengthening weak connections in key areas of the brain. Our founder, Shirley Pennebaker, discovered early on that for a student with visual processing issues, there is a difference between what the student sees and what is learned. The simple exercises in the Brainjogging program provide a targeted approach to strengthening the systems in the brain responsible for visual processing.

Learn more about Camp Academia’s targeted approach to overcoming learning difficulties by calling our office, 706-884-4492.

Elizabeth M. Clerkin, Elizabeth Hart, James M. Rehg, Chen Yu, Linda B. Smith. Real-world visual statistics and infants’ first-learned object names. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2016; 372 (1711): 20160055 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0055

Indiana University. “Babies’ first words can be predicted based on visual attention: Study reveals that visual memory’s role in early language learning may advance treatments for delayed speech, autism.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2016. <>.

Strengthening this Area of the Brain Improves Reading

Monday, March 6th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

What if we knew exactly what part of the brain is used when we learn to read? In August 2016, scientists at MIT were able to do just that! Using MRI scans in children at age 5 and then at age 8, the MIT researchers were able to isolate the area in the occipito-temporal region that is often referred to as the Visual Word Form Area, VWFA. These scientists are now working on using the same brain imaging techniques to be able to predict a child’s functional development. In other words, experts would be able to identify children who are at risk of developing dyslexia or other learning difficulties connected with issues in that area of the brain.

What is the VWFA?

The VWFA, Visual Word Form Area is a novel brain network located in the left occipito –temporal (LOT) region of the brain. This system is responsible for the rapid, automatic, fluent identification of words. In other words, the neural pathways work together as a system to rapidly decode strings of letters into words. Individuals with dyslexia have a disruption in this system explaining why reading becomes a big challenge.

How will this information help my child and me?

Dyslexia can be frustrating for both parents and children. Fortunately, as we have seen, researchers have been able to narrow in on the disrupted neural pathways that cause dyslexia. This information combined with the brain’s ability to change and heal itself (plasticity) gives hope to individuals and their families. The fact that dyslexia has a cognitive basis, means that to overcome the problem, you need a focused, cognitive-based solution.

Brainjogging can help!

Brainjogging is a cognitive-based, multi-sensory program designed to strengthen weak connections in the brain. The key issue with dyslexia, or any other reading challenge, is a disconnect between what an individual sees and what the brain processes. When Brainjoggers, see, say, and spell words during each exercise, they are combining proven methods for enhancing reading, with research-backed techniques for improving cognition and processing.

To learn how Brainjogging can help your child, call  Camp Academia at 706-884-4492.


Shaywitz, S., Mody, M., and Shaywitz, B., “Neural Mechanisms in Dyslexia”, Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2006