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romacox
Madeline Lavine PhD: Education Today Is Causing Learning Disabilities
by romacox
October 7, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Stress And The Toxic Hormone Cortisol

When we experience stress, it causes an elevated level of the toxic hormone cortosol, and children are less able to deal with stress.

Studies show that the toxic effect of excessive cortisol resulting from stress, has an effect on the brain. The effects can be lasting if stress happens over a long period of time. This hormone was found to be one of the major causes of behavior problems, learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, hyperactivity, ext), confusion, and impaired thinking in adults and in children. This hormone effects children's ability to learn.

 Madeline Lavine PhD, who is a Psychologist with over 30 years of experience in working with children explains in her book, Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success,  that the  "one size fits all" approach, and the over emphasis on testing is doing more harm than good. She says that it is one of the major causes of learning disabilities.  Children can become stressed simply because they think something is wrong with them if other children are learning faster then they are, or making better grades than they are.  She goes on to say that current methods are preparing our children for academia, but not for life outside of school. 

In conclusion, education needs to be designed around the child's uniqueness rather than putting them in a race that egnores their unique talents, and time schedule.

P.S. Something that I forgot to add is thad Dr. Lavine says not enough play can cause learning disabilities.

Replies

  • MessedUpMama
    October 7, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    I can see how stress could be a contributing factor to some learning disabilities, ADHD in particular. However, I have a hard time attributing stress as a cause.

    I think that children are born with a tendency to some of these problems and that stress may contribute to the emergence of them. I think that stress makes already present conditions worse, which to some people might look like a new condition emerging because of the stress. 

  • romacox
    by romacox
    October 8, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    One boy I was tutoring in Kindergarten was catching on fast, and doing quite well.  I was surprised to get him back in first grade, and to discover he did not know as much as he did the year before.  I tried tutoring him at the school, but he was under so much stress there, that I began working with him at home.  He was more relaxed in his home. But he still was not catching on to the simplest things.

    Finally he verbalized it:  he said, "I am dumb".  He was not dumb, he was simply a hands on learner.  The Conventional Method was not working for him, and the kids were telling him he was dumb. The teacher wanted him on medication for ADHD (Hands on learners are often misdiagnosed with this condition)   His mother, and teacher were alerted, and we all began assuring him he was smart.  Almost instantly, he began making straight As.

    I can tell you many such stories. Another child reacted similarly because she was simply pronouncing the w as Wu, and it was giving her trouble decoding some words.  She too became convinced there was something wrong with her (self fulfilling prophesy). She freaked out every time she was asked to read in a book.   By using games (which reduces stress), I was able to show her she could read.  She went from failing to top reading group, and the teacher said her spelling also improved.

    Allowing the child to deal with struggle and stress  is important, but sometimes adults need to step in, and assist. 

    In today's schools children are often allowed only 30 minutes of recess for the day, and if there is testing to prepare for, recess is often omitted entirely.  Some children are able to deal with this, but for many young children this is unbearable...especially young children, and hands on learners.   If they are not allowed a constructive outlet for their natural energy, they become disruptive, and scolded on a regular basis which also takes its tole on a child. 

    One of my kids would walk around and around his chair when his  energy became too much for him to handle.  I simply let him run once around the house, and he was able to calmly return,  and to focus on  the task at hand.

  • RyansMom001
    October 8, 2012 at 9:02 AM
    Thanks for the recommdation. I'm going to check it out from my library. My son has severe anxiety, it's something I'm worried about. It's hard to help him.
  • romacox
    by romacox
    October 8, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Please keep us informed. If we can help let us know....games are excellent for children who have anxiety because they reduce stress. 

    Quoting RyansMom001:

    Thanks for the recommdation. I'm going to check it out from my library. My son has severe anxiety, it's something I'm worried about. It's hard to help him.


  • RyansMom001
    October 8, 2012 at 10:21 AM
    Quoting romacox:



    Thank you so much for this website ! What a supportive and well informed group of ladies you guys are.
  • oredeb
    by oredeb
    October 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

     maybe what we call learning disabilities are not disabilities at all! we all learn differently! just because we dont learn like someone else or a few others we call it a disability??

  • KickButtMama
    October 8, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I guess my point was two-fold (which might bea result of he amount of cold meds I'm on..lol:

    First let me clarify that there are real and established conditions we do ont understand enough, nor di we understand the cause. My eldest, who has never been to PS has Aspergers, and we know next to nothing as to how I could have 2 children who could be sodrastically different behaviorally when they have been raised in the same environment - lending to the idea that the source must be biological rather than social. So I don't want anyone to thinkI am down playing real issues - especially since some learning disabilities have been around longer than the Americal educational system. That being said, I do think part of the modern narcissism has led to a quick diagnosing society...when there is any little behavioral road block kids are lumped into catagories and labeled. So. I think it can be difficult to obtain accurate statistical results when completely middle of the road kids are labeled as having disabilities. I completely agree kids need more individualized educations. In fact, I believe if we had more individualizededucation a huge number of diagnoses would decrease. Many kids today are not being taught the tools tohandle rejection, boredom or how to focus. If they were taught these things, they could more easily pick up on educational concepts. This would pave the way for better research for those kids who truly have a disability without the, "well so-n-so had that disability and finally learned to read, so obviously you're not trying." Finally, I have a hard time believing kids today are more stressed than ever throughout history. So, if lives of children are not functionally more stressful, then (if the cortisol is the root cause for LD) then kids today are missing some means of handling the cortisol? no? So I'm curious as to how its explained that LD dx's have spiked in the last 20 years. (admittedly some of the dx's increase is because of better screening)


    Quoting romacox:

    KickButtMama, you know you are one of my favorites here.  So could you expound on your thoughts  a bit.  Do you mean that long periods of stress (cortisol) doesn't cause learning disabilities, or do you mean that narcissism is also a factor/  Please continue with your thoughts if you don't mind. 


    Quoting KickButtMama:


    I'd be curious to know if part of her research might have factored in the current level of narcissism in today's children. Stress seems so much more important now than it did, say, during the Great Depression or any of the world wars. I think modern kids have been taught to see themselves as the center of the universe, and they no longer have the tools to handle stress, rejection or struggle. Not necessarily just through PS but the modern environment.



  • romacox
    by romacox
    October 8, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    I think you make several good points, and I don't think there is one answer to the cause of learning disabilities. There are many causes.  As you point out biological conditions, and better screening are a factor.  Ordeb mentioned misdiagnoses, which is something I have witnessed repeatedly.  some parents site injections, and some children react violently to chemicals in our environment.

    When I went through menopause, I found out about how cortisol effects the body and brain.  I was not me at all until I was able to balance my hormones. When I took care of my mother in her latter years, I learned that some things are not just in our heads.  Dementia took a once very intelligent woman, and turned her into a child with a severe short term memory loss. 

    Thank you for sharing KickButtMamma.  Those who are working with children who have learning disabilities have much to teach, and there are more and more mothers looking for answers. Each child is unique, and so are the answers.

    P.S. Even some diagnosed with schizophrenia have been helped with hormone balancing. see articles Here



    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I guess my point was two-fold (which might bea result of he amount of cold meds I'm on..lol:

    First let me clarify that there are real and established conditions we do ont understand enough, nor di we understand the cause. My eldest, who has never been to PS has Aspergers, and we know next to nothing as to how I could have 2 children who could be sodrastically different behaviorally when they have been raised in the same environment - lending to the idea that the source must be biological rather than social. So I don't want anyone to thinkI am down playing real issues - especially since some learning disabilities have been around longer than the Americal educational system. That being said, I do think part of the modern narcissism has led to a quick diagnosing society...when there is any little behavioral road block kids are lumped into catagories and labeled. So. I think it can be difficult to obtain accurate statistical results when completely middle of the road kids are labeled as having disabilities. I completely agree kids need more individualized educations. In fact, I believe if we had more individualizededucation a huge number of diagnoses would decrease. Many kids today are not being taught the tools tohandle rejection, boredom or how to focus. If they were taught these things, they could more easily pick up on educational concepts. This would pave the way for better research for those kids who truly have a disability without the, "well so-n-so had that disability and finally learned to read, so obviously you're not trying." Finally, I have a hard time believing kids today are more stressed than ever throughout history. So, if lives of children are not functionally more stressful, then (if the cortisol is the root cause for LD) then kids today are missing some means of handling the cortisol? no? So I'm curious as to how its explained that LD dx's have spiked in the last 20 years. (admittedly some of the dx's increase is because of better screening)


    Quoting romacox:

    KickButtMama, you know you are one of my favorites here.  So could you expound on your thoughts  a bit.  Do you mean that long periods of stress (cortisol) doesn't cause learning disabilities, or do you mean that narcissism is also a factor/  Please continue with your thoughts if you don't mind. 


    Quoting KickButtMama:


    I'd be curious to know if part of her research might have factored in the current level of narcissism in today's children. Stress seems so much more important now than it did, say, during the Great Depression or any of the world wars. I think modern kids have been taught to see themselves as the center of the universe, and they no longer have the tools to handle stress, rejection or struggle. Not necessarily just through PS but the modern environment.




  • bluerooffarm
    October 8, 2012 at 4:35 PM

     I think that there is more of certain kinds of stress for today's kids.  I think there has always been the stress to fit in, family stresses, internal success stress, etc.... but today there is a lot of repetitive, external acheivment stress.  I think we are much better equipped to handle the internal stress and the family/community stress than we are to handle this new external stress that we really see in the ps system.  Often teachers are (without even realizing it) causing true anxiety for their students.  They hint that if the kids don't do well on this test there will be this long domino effect and they'll be "stuck" in a menial dead end job for the rest of their lives over a silly test.  I watched my oldest son become physically ill every Friday because he was so worried about doing well on his spelling tests. 

    The system has changed with the culture. I agree with the pp that talk of our narcissism, and I'd add that the school system is now feeding on that.  Since the world revolves around the child, the school's fate rests in the results of the child's tests.  That's a whole lot of new stress for these kids.

    I would also suggest that the ps system wants to keep the kids emotionally young for a longer period of time than we have ever seen before and yet wants the same child to learn impressive math skills... mentally advanced and emotionally stunted.  I think this adds to the stressed feelings, they don't know how to deal with the stress (we don't teach that at school and most kids really don't have good role models at home for stress reduction).

    I don't think it is the "cause" but definately a factor. 

  • Proud-young-mom
    October 19, 2012 at 12:30 AM
    Exactly! My ds had never been to a structure school. He was 5 and doing work all day. With only 30 mins play time at recess. That a big change for a 5 year old. Not to mention he was the youngest in the class. So why in the world because my child didnt want to do the work. Or sit still made them think he adhd beyond me. But i pulled him. And homeschool him. He already used to structure. As our work is structure. Im preparing him just in case i send him to school next year.


    Quoting romacox:

    One boy I was tutoring in Kindergarten was catching on fast, and doing quite well.  I was surprised to get him back in first grade, and to discover he did not know as much as he did the year before.  I tried tutoring him at the school, but he was under so much stress there, that I began working with him at home.  He was more relaxed in his home. But he still was not catching on to the simplest things.

    Finally he verbalized it:  he said, "I am dumb".  He was not dumb, he was simply a hands on learner.  The Conventional Method was not working for him, and the kids were telling him he was dumb. The teacher wanted him on medication for ADHD (Hands on learners are often misdiagnosed with this condition)   His mother, and teacher were alerted, and we all began assuring him he was smart.  Almost instantly, he began making straight As.

    I can tell you many such stories. Another child reacted similarly because she was simply pronouncing the w as Wu, and it was giving her trouble decoding some words.  She too became convinced there was something wrong with her (self fulfilling prophesy). She freaked out every time she was asked to read in a book.   By using games (which reduces stress), I was able to show her she could read.  She went from failing to top reading group, and the teacher said her spelling also improved.

    Allowing the child to deal with struggle and stress  is important, but sometimes adults need to step in, and assist. 

    In today's schools children are often allowed only 30 minutes of recess for the day, and if there is testing to prepare for, recess is often omitted entirely.  Some children are able to deal with this, but for many young children this is unbearable...especially young children, and hands on learners.   If they are not allowed a constructive outlet for their natural energy, they become disruptive, and scolded on a regular basis which also takes its tole on a child. 

    One of my kids would walk around and around his chair when his  energy became too much for him to handle.  I simply let him run once around the house, and he was able to calmly return,  and to focus on  the task at hand.


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