What You Should Know to Help Struggling Students

Paul C. Thompson
May 14, 2012 — 1,161 views  

Children, adolescents, and adults with learning and performance difficulties are usually faced with information processing problems in a few specific areas. These areas include visual processing, auditory processing, organization, memory, attention, executive function, abstract reasoning and more.

For children and adults with LD and/or ADHD, their parents, and their teachers there are three very important words to remember: 1. Information, 2. Knowledge, and 3. Wisdom. Read on to find out what this means.


The 1st level of understanding comes when you gather information (a) about LD and ADHD, their types, the combinations of difficulties, how they are diagnosed, and how they are treated so that you know as much as possible in order to proceed successfully, and (b) about the individual, including strengths, difficulties, testing results, behaviours, and performance. You will read books, watch DVDs, attend workshops, and ask questions.


Knowledge is the level above information. You must organize the information under headings and into categories. Secondly, you must apply the information by taking action to find solutions to practical problems. For example, a girl is unable to memorize the multiplication tables, so she is allowed to use a calculator at all times. Be aware that often the first solution fails, and we have to try something different. What if the girl with the calculator confuses 3 and 8, 2 and 5, and 1 and 7, resulting in many mistakes? You will search the software and assistive technology, or ask a specialist to find a solution for a problem.


The highest level of understanding is what we call wisdom. This occurs when the individual, or the parents/teachers, learn to view the problem in a larger context, such as graduation from school, career choices, playing hockey, or getting on with life. Sometimes we find that a problem we thought was very important is not very important in the big picture of things. When the problem is put into a larger context, then we are able to give the problem an appropriate weight. An adult with a serious problem with mathematics will see that there are many interesting jobs which require almost no mathematics ability. Once again, a specialist can help to answer questions and provide valuable insights.

Information + Knowledge + Wisdom = The best chance at future success.

We must use this formula to teach children, adolescents, and adults what is needed to develop strong self-advocacy, independence, increased self-esteem, and happiness.


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Paul C. Thompson