Posts Tagged ‘Learning Disabilities’

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.

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. <>.

Boost Brainjogging: Create new word lists!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Updating your child’s word list often is important to Brainjogging’s success. Adding concepts from daily homework, key steps in a newly acquired life skill, or even new vocabulary from a book will help your child learn and retain the information. A child who has working memory is able to apply learned information and concepts. Children who do Brainjogging are able to increase the capacity of their working memory, leading to greater success in school and in life!

enter new word lists

Here are some key tips to Creating Word Lists:

  • Separate big words into syllables. The word community can be typed com mun it y.
  • Only include key words and phrases. For example, do not type “A robin is a red bird.” Instead, enter the following:




  • Word lists are not only for vocabulary. You can include math concepts as well! Does your child have to learn “Common Core”? Common core math requires children to show the thought process in reaching an answer to a problem. Enter these steps in the form of words and short phrases. This will help your child remember and be able to apply the sequence of steps for homework and exams. Let’s use number bonds as an example:






add tens

add ones

add sums

check answer

You might find that you’ve reached 30 words and you still have a lot to enter in your new word list. Don’t be discouraged! Just start a new word list.

When it comes to word lists, aim to enter a few new word lists each week, and to have your child be able to enter those word lists himself. Here at Brainjogging, we are constantly adding new and relevant content as well!

Sensory Processing Disorder: The struggle is real!

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Do you have a bright child who can’t seem to focus when asked to perform a sequence of tasks?  Does your son or daughter jump from activity to activity?  Do you know a child that NEEDS to climb, run, and touch everything?  These are all examples of children displaying sensory processing disorder (SPD).  A  lot of kids with ADHD and autism, also have sensory processing issues that affect their organization and focus.  You know your child is smart, if only she would just calm down for a minute!  Sound familiar?


courtesy of pixabay


Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of The Out of Sync Child recommends the “3Rs”:

  • Recognize that your child may have a sensory issue.  Kranowitz suggests putting on “sensory goggles” to observe what your child needs more or less.  Noise may cause your child to have outbursts.  A quick run around the block, may be what your child’s body is seeking to organize his thoughts again.
  • Re-channel the behavior.  Avoid punishing your child for his extra energy.  Find a way for him to use that energy purposefully.  Take younger kids to the playground or have them jump on the trampoline.  As children get older, assigning chores around the house (think raking leaves or vacuuming) are a great way to teach responsibility and have them expend excess energy.
  • Reward the child with specific and positive words.  Rather than a treat and a “Good job!”, try saying “Wow, you read that passage very well!”  Avoid sugary and material awards.  Praise from a parent is usually the biggest reward for a child.

Therapists will often recommend a sensory diet to help “sync’ the brain and body.  Here are some activities recommended by Kranowitz, plus a few more!

  1. Reach for the sky – While laying on her back, have your child stretch one are to the sky while you both count to five.  Hold it high while counting to five.  Then tell your child to pretend she is melting, and slowly bring her arm down for five counts.  Do the same with the other arm.  Repeat this exercise alternating between right and left arm and then right and left leg.  This slow and calming activity encourages patience and improves coordination. (Kranowitz)
  2. Copy Cat – Face your child and say, “Watch and copy what I do.”  Do different movements that require balance and coordination and let your child copy you.  For example, you can balance on one foot and wiggle the other foot in the air.  You can even take turns being the leader!
  3. Copy Can’t – In this variation, have your child do the OPPOSITE.  When you reach high with your hands, your child will have to reach low.  This is a great activity for building body awareness, visual processing, and motor planning.  (Kranowitz)
  4. Make your house sensory sensitive. – Be sure to have designated quiet areas.  A quiet area can be as simple as a corner with a bean bag chair or weighted blanket.  Providing a small trampoline or exercise ball in your child’s room or playroom are simple activities for releasing energy.  Your child should also have a designated area for homework.  His desk or table should be clear of all distractions to help him focus on his work.
  5. Encourage outdoor play and exercise.– Exercise is important for everyone.  However, for individuals with SPD, physical activity helps with processing, focus, and self-regulation.  Biking, running, and other sports help children use excess energy, increase body awareness, and improve focus.

No matter how mild or severe your child’s SPD is, remember that many of their behaviors have an underlying cause.  Refrain from over the top reactions such as, “Why do you always do that?”  Instead, put on your investigator’s hat, and try to figure out what caused the behavior.  Once you have the cause, find an activity or a sensory tool to help your child become more aware of his own body and regulate his own sensory issues.

Brainjogging helps with SPD by helping to syncing the auditory, visual, and language pathways in the brain.  A child who is better able to understand the world around him will feel more in control and will be able to remain calm in different situations.  Combine Brainjogging with a sensory diet and you’ll have a calm, melt-down free child in no time at all!


Kranowitz, Carol, “When Your Child is Out-of-Sync”  ADDitude Magazine, Winter 2016.

Arky, Beth, “Treating Sensory Processing Issues”

Homework Help for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

A child with a learning difficulty can struggle with homework after a long day of school.  This can be frustrating for both children and parents.   To help your child – and you – avoid the headaches of getting through homework, it is best to create a plan that keeps them focused, and takes away the stress of homework.

Be Consistent

Provide your child with a set time and place to do homework.  This creates a sense of control and predictability for children and for parents as well.    While every family has their own preferences and afternoon schedules, you might consider giving your child enough time for a quick snack and then have him sit down to do his homework before he gets distracted with other activities.  This method avoids all the excuses and complaints that happen later in the day as children get tired.  You and your child will also have more free time without the added stress of unfinished assignments.  Also, be sure that your child’s designated homework area has all needed supplies (sharpened-pencils, paper, calculator, water bottle, etc.) to avoid excuses for interrupting homework.

Approach the Most Difficult Assignments First

Children with learning disabilities tend to have short attention spans, particularly when it comes to challenging assignments. Have your child begin their most difficult assignments first since they will have more energy and focus to complete the task at hand.  This will also encourage them to complete their other assignments, and to not avoid future work in that difficult subject.

Plan Shifts

If you see that your child is losing focus on one particular assignment, allow them to shift over to another and then come back to the original assignment. You can also set a timer every 15 to 20 minutes so that your child can look forward to breaks to recollect their thoughts. Be sure to time breaks as well.  A long break can make completing homework even harder!!

Create a Homework Checklist

Checklists are a great way to keep your child organized and to help him remember each assignment.  They can also be a great motivator as your child checks off each completed assignment.  A child’s teacher should also be involved in the checklist and can help to let parents know what tasks are required each day.  Some parents find a weekly email to the teacher helpful in knowing what is expected of the class each week.

Reward Hard Work

Set weekly homework goals that can easily be measure with a chart or other method.  Having a simple reward system is a great external motivator and can be anything from being able to choose a weekend activity to even an ice cream cone!  Avoid, extravagant rewards.  Sometimes scheduling special “mommy-time” can be the best prize ever!

Be Encouraging

Parents feel obligated to correct every mistake on their child’s homework.  Consider this approach:  Have your child complete an assignment.  Look it over.  Praise what she did correct.  And THEN, point out areas that she might have to redo. Or, offer to explain concepts that your child obviously did not understand.  Praising before criticizing will make your child more willing to work towards the right answers.

Get Help from Brainjogging

Doing Brainjogging before starting homework can cut homework time in half.  Many parents have seen that when students do Brainjogging, and then begin their assignments, they have greater focus and are able to complete their work more efficiently.  In addition, adding vocabulary and key concepts to word lists in the Brainjogging program helps students remember and process new information quicker.  The goal is to work SMARTER not HARDER!

Connecting with Children with Autism

Monday, January 30th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Nonverbal communication can be one of the most important forms of communication between a parent and a child with autism. Given the challenges communicating verbally, sometimes the best way to form a connection with a child with autism is through the way you look at them, the way you touch them,  by the tone of your voice,  and your body language.  Also, when appropriate, do not be afraid to give control to your child.  Children with autism often feel frustrated because they have no sense of control over themselves or their surroundings.  Giving your child on the spectrum a chance to be the decision maker often relieves built up anxiety and makes him more willing to cooperate with you!  Below are some tips for connecting with your child with autism.

Observing Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal cues in children with autism can help to clue you in to how they are thinking or feeling. Parents who practice observing the body language of their children will learn to understand their feelings much better and this can help you to form a closer connection. If your child is not particularly adept at verbal communication, tune into their sounds, the changing expressions on their face and take note of any similarities they make – nonverbally or verbally – when they are attention-seeking, tired, hungry, upset or frustrated.  A child may pull back when you hold his hand.  He is not being defiant, he simply has no clue where you are taking him!  Try saying, “We need to go to school now.  Let’s walk to the car together.”  Say the sentence calmly and give him a chance to process.  You might need to repeat the sentence (with the same exact words).  Children with autism are very smart!  They just need a few more minutes to process.  Many children on the spectrum are not verbal, but most do understand your words and your tone of voice.  You can teach them kindness and respect by having your facial expressions, words, and actions match the behavior you want to teach.

Prevent Tantrums by Understanding Nonverbal Cues

A tantrum thrown by any child, especially a child with autism, is a sign that they are feeling ignored, misunderstood, or out of control. As verbal communication between a parent and a child with autism can be difficult or nonexistent, it is up to the parent to determine how their child is communicating their feelings nonverbally.  Since many tantrums are the result of feeling a lack of control, before changing routines, take a moment to sit down with your child and explain the changes through pictures and words.  Using both pictures and words will help your child to learn more vocabulary to be able to better understand you in the future.

Learn the Scenarios that Elicit Response

You may find that your child is particularly sensitive to certain sights, sounds, touch, tastes, smells or light. Parents who figure out which senses elicit negative responses can prepare their child before any event or activity.  If your child is having a particularly disorganized day, you might choose to skip that event altogether!  Helping our children live in our world is important.  Helping them realize when they have had enough is equally important as well!

Have Fun Nonverbally

If you had to be in class and therapy sessions, hour after hour, how would you feel?  Probably tired and a little stressed out!  Imagine how our children with autism feel?  At the end of the day, they are still children and ALL CHILDREN learn best when they are having fun!  If your child has sensory issues, take him to a local playground where he can swing and slide, and climb to get rid of the wiggles!  Maybe your child needs deep pressure.  Wrap her in a blanket, hug her tight, and read some fun stories together.  Are you trying to teach vocabulary?  Bring out a matching game, and be sure to say the name of each match that you find.  Vocabulary and turn-taking all in one game?  Perfect!!  Anything can be a game if you and your child are having fun.  Be sure to praise your child any time she does something positive.  You’ll be more likely to see that positive behavior again!

Contact Camp Academia for Extra Help

Camp Academia has been helping children with autism for over 30 years!  By using Brainjogging, a web-based computer learning program that uses visual stimuli to enhance learning, children are able to improve their capacity for learning.  When used for just five to seven minutes, two times a day, children with autism quickly see improvement in eye contact, behavior, and processing speed.  Contact Camp Academia, at 1-888-7-I- LEARN today to learn more.


Five reasons why we need to curb screen time…

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by admin

If someone approached you to enroll your child in a social experiment, would you agree?  Probably not.  But that is exactly what we have done for the past decade since the introduction of smart phones and tablets.  With only a handful of studies on the effects of screens, many of us allow our children so much more hours of screen time than is recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics.   We aren’t even sure of the long term effects of daily tablet and smart phone use, and yet statistics show that many of the apps downloaded and 50% of the Netflix accounts are geared towards children.  What’s the big deal you might ask.  Here we go…

1.  Excessive screen time is detrimental to overall health.

Children and adults who spend too much time in front of any type of screen often exercise less.  Even if they are not overeating, lack of exercise can lead to obesity.  In fact, too much exposure to screens, especially at night, can lead to sleep problems that can lead to obesity, attention, and cognitive issues.  Two hours before bedtime, all screens (TV, phones, tablets) need to be turned off and a bedtime routine needs to be established to ensure a good night’s sleep!  Children who get a good night’s sleep are more alert, have better processing, and are less likely to gain excessive weight.

2.  Giving young children screens can lead to behavior issues.

Have you ever gone to the supermarket with your child, and to prevent a meltdown, given her your smartphone?  We all have!  But we all know that rewarding bad behavior with a screen is not going to solve anything.  In fact, you are more likely to have meltdowns from your children if they think you will give them a tablet or phone each time.  What about when you take your child for their annual shots?  Some parents like to distract or comfort children with an app or a video on their phone.  Although the child might stop crying, think about what they missed.  What the child really needed was a warm hug, not an app!

3.  Too much screen time can lead to attention issues.

Did you know that ADHD is ten times more prevalent than it was 20 years ago?  A study from Iowa State University showed that kids ages 6-12 who spent more than 2 hours in front of a screen were more likely to have attention issues in school.  In fact, Demetri Christakis, an expert on children and media consumption, feels the speed and flash of modern video games and TV is a big concern.

“I think that the concern is that the pacing of the program, whether its video games or TV is over stimulating and contributes to attention problems,” Christakis says.
4.  Apps and video games provide TOO MUCH stimulation to developing minds.
 It seems so much easier to put on a story-time app for your toddler than to actually tell her a story.  The child, however, misses out on so much when we do that.  When a mother tells her child a story, the child listens to her mother’s voice, She has to listen for changes in intonation as well as try to read the expression on the faces of the characters in the book.  If her mother is a story-time pro, she might ask the child about the characters’ feelings, or what might happen next!  All these points might seem simple, but they are training the child’s brain to read social cues, to think critically, and to be imaginative.  When a child watches a story on a tablet, the characters move as the story is told.  There is often background music and sound effects.  Also, the child can often touch part of the story to make characters and other parts of the screen move.  All this while the bright light of the tablet is inches from her face!  In this scenario, the child has no chance to use her own imagination.  If she wants to move a long with the story she simply has to push an arrow.  She doesn’t even have to wait for the app’s narrator to finish the sentence.  So many important social skills are missing, when we depend on a tablet to entertain our kids.
5.  Therapies and treatments cannot overcome the effects of video games.
After 30 years of helping children overcome learning difficulties, Shirley Pennebaker has observed the following:  Lack of sleep and over exposure to video games are detrimental to learning!  While Brainjogging can definitely help a child affected by screens and video games, the child must STOP playing video games first.  The next step would be to call Camp Academia and get the child on Brainjogging.


Follow the Leader!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 by admin

Learning to follow directions is an important part of the learning process. For children with learning disabilities this can be even more difficult especially if they have processing or focus issues. Teachers often use direct instruction in which the teacher models what is being taught and then the students copy and practice what was modeled to learn the new information.

But what if we reversed the process and had the students model and the teacher follow? Would these students be able to explain and model the concepts?

When students are only taught through direct instruction, they are missing out on a stage of learning that requires critical thinking and application of knowledge. For special educators, the goal should be to have the children be able to learn and think on their own.

For students who have shown the ability to easily learn what their teacher has modeled, the next step would be to have the student model the lesson back to the teacher, or even better, he could teach another student!

This method of teaching gives the student a chance to use social skills, critical thinking, and of course working memory! More than just memorizing different lessons in school, we want our kids to be able to apply what they learned towards achieving goals!

For students who are not at the point where they are able to explain important concepts learned in school, Brainjogging is the answer.  Doing Brainjogging twice a day helps strengthen cognitive weaknesses that make processing new information and applying key concept difficult for some students.

Resources:  “Follow the leader: Letting students take ownership”, Pamela Hill,  December 5, 2016

5 Steps to a Low-Stress Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 by admin

Happy Halloween!


Halloween…that one day of the year when even the most typical child can experience sensory overload!  Check out these 5 simple tips for a fun and low-stress Halloween!

1.  Have your child try on his costume at least one week before Halloween. This prevents those OMG moments that can arise from itchy or tight clothing. You’ll get a chance to cut off all those troublesome tags too!

2.  Have replacement treats if your child is on a special diet and have a plan that your child agrees on for switching to “safe” candy.  If your child knows the plan ahead of time, he will be more willing to cooperate with you!

3.  Plan your family’s Halloween fun! Invite friends that your child feels comfortable with for snacks and trick or treating.   You don’t even have to go trick or treating.  Plan the day according to what you and your child are comfortable doing.  If your son or daughter would prefer an evening of fun snacks and games at home, then that’s what you should do!  Creating an environment where your child feels safe and at ease will help them stay calm and focus on the fun!

4.  Try to stick to regular meal and bedtime routines as much as possible.  Cranky and hungry kids are scary even without the costumes!

5.  Realize that it’s Halloween and the most important part of the day is NOT getting the perfect picture with the scarecrow, making jack-o-lantern cupcakes, or reaching every house on the block. The most important aspect of any holiday is spending time with your sweet little pumpkin!