The cost of learning difficulties

p67_ungrounded on chair
I want to tell you a story about Freddy

Freddy (not his real name), was a bright child and used to go to school – how did his parents know he was bright? Creative, charming, a bit of a character.

His parents never did well at school; mum has become an artist and dad somehow got into IT and became a successful engineer.

His parents notice that Freddy doesn’t seem to be enjoying school and by the time he is 6 years old he is very unhappy, will often be in tears and is exhausted when he comes out of school.

The school are very supportive and they really don’t understand why he is struggling, he has friends at school, but he can’t make any progress with reading and spelling.

His mother is getting more anxious as his letters and numbers are the wrong way around, but the school said that lots of children do this and they grow out of it.

His father keeps saying “don’t worry I found reading really difficult until I was about 30 and then it suddenly seemed to make more sense.  I battled through and got a good job, you will be fine.  It was like a switch had gone on in my brain, I am sure you will get it too.” He was only trying to reassure Freddy, but actually it made him feel worse, waiting til he was 30 was too long to wait.

As Katy, his younger sister grows up she is reading really well before the age of 4.  Freddy is still struggling and by this time has friends are racing ahead.  By now Freddy is feeling really bad about himself, “I am stupid”, “I don’t want to live like this”, straight to his identity level.

Mum and Dad start to believe that Freddy has inherited this and their guilt grows too, he is pressing their buttons every day as they see him struggle like they did.  They even feel guilty praising Katy.

How many Freddy’s do you know?

Freddy has now been assessed by the school as Dyslexic, which in part is a relief and on the other hand he hates the label, but he should get more help.  Mum and Dad realise that he is really good at some things, especially music,  but they are so busy and upset dealing with the hell of daily homework for  them to  really notice.  He has developed a twitch and frequent meltdowns, over relatively trivial things that he just doesn’t seem to be able to understand.

He is very good at his playstation, and seems quite addicted. He has a great imagination for making up stories but can’t write them. Construction toys like lego he can do even without the directions.

The school is very helpful and the latest Educational Psychologist report identifies Dyslexia, ADHD and maybe slight Asperger’s and Dyspraxia. He has had various tests for hearing, sight (letters on the page were moving) and behaviour and now wears those pink tinted glasses – which he hates, they seem to help but you can imagine what the other kids say? He is dropping further and further behind and his behaviour is deteriorating.

When he enters secondary school at the age of 11, his handwriting is terrible, he is very articulate, the “class clown”, has terrible literacy, excellent maths, his writing is illegible and he is very thin (his diet was not good).  He is wobbly and has wheat intolerance.  He also had regular meltdowns.  He also has quite a reputation having spent much time in the headteachers office over the last year.

How many Freddy’s do you know?

Sign-up now and find out how you can help Freddy and his family.

At the age of 16 he was excluded for the latest classroom prank in a long series of disruptive behaviour.  This one went wrong and a child has hurt badly.  Even Freddy was very upset about what had happened to his friend.

This is where I came in.

16 years old, unrecognised talents, low self-esteem, almost no literacy, terrible handwriting and guilt, realising “this was the end of the road”.  Out of school with no qualifications and next stop young offenders.”  What had gone so very wrong?

Enter the whole family plus his Special Needs co-ordinator, all very stressed and mum close to tears. She was at the end of her tether.

I taught Freddy to relax, release the stress and get him grounded, fully in his body, a place he had never been before, hence the letters moving on the page.

I checked who could see words in their mind’s eye.  Dad said yes but gave up when the words were longer than 5 letters.  Katy saw perfect words, mum had no concept and Freddy’s mouth dropped open as if he had been shot.  He clearly had no idea that this was possible and was just a little angry that no-one had told him before that this was what he should be doing.

I taught them all to get grounded, get their sensory system, in particular their visual images under control and taught them to visualise words properly.  This all took just about 30 mins and Freddy was engaged in the first non-maths lesson for the first time in years.

Talking with him about how he did maths, we had great visual images of numbers, but had never thought of using the same skill for words.

I then taught him to let go of all that negativity he had picked up over the years plus the energy that goes with it, because now he had a new skill, he was going to be able to learn much more easily and he might even understand some of the lessons he had zoned out in over the years.  I also taught him to catch the awful feelings and emotions when he was on route to a meltdown and let that go before it overwhelmed him and how to deal with busy environments.

He looked as if he would have been happy to stay there practicing words all afternoon but it was time for swimming so off he went with the broadest grin you have ever seen on a 16 year old.

How many Freddy’s do you know who might achieve this with just 30 minutes tuition?

Sign-up now and find out how you can help Freddy and his family.

2 weeks later a different family walked in.  They were all much more relaxed, Freddy had been given individual lessons outside school hours by his favourite teacher, the Rugby teacher, who had always know Freddy had great potential if he could only tap into it. Freddy had achieved astonishing results:

  • spent time every day practicing
  • reading quite fluently even with expression
  • spelling 7 letter words
  • handwriting was improving
  • exhaustion was less
  • no meltdowns
  • started eating a better diet
  • cut out all the junk food.

Having the Special Needs co-ordinator there had been a real boost:

  • she had organised the extra lessons to help him catch up
  • school had promised he could take the exams.

Freddy, being good at maths, had decided to add up the cost of all the special attention he had commanded over the years. There was 10 years of support from learning assistants, special needs time, headteachers time, at least 10 assessments he could remember and special glasses, amounting to £56,000.  If he has gone on to college he could has a Disability Student Allowance a further £65,000 over 3 years to support him in class. This didn’t take into account the stress in the whole family, the time his parents needed to take off work and any support he would need when he left education.

He then calculated that for those who went to collage, it was more than £100,000 each.  There was a report recently that there are 600,000 students currently in education with SpLD, let alone those without labels who are underachieving.  This comes to £6000M over the course of their education, this is a very heavy strain on the country, when such simple skills can easily be taught in primary school.

Do help the Freddy’s you know to develop these simple skills.

Sign-up now and find out how you can help Freddy and his family.

Or call Olive Hickmott on 07970-854388

About olivehickmott

I am a Forensic Learning coach, showing people how they can improve their own learning and change their health. Working with creative neurodivergent students is a joy, as they learn new skills to overcome many of their learning challenges.
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2 Responses to The cost of learning difficulties

  1. Jean Ramsey says:

    This is really powerful Olive well done!

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