Steps to Learning Diabilities to Learning Ease

“Remember – others have been practicing for many years what you are just learning to do now, so have patience with yourself and let yourself learn too, now that your body is able to do it with greater ease.”

In the last couple of weeks I have been reminded of this statement that I heard Judith Bluestone (the creator of the HANDLE paradigm and therapy approach) say many times to clients. Many of my clients this month have come in having made great progress in their ability to process and learn. Perhaps it isn’t so hard to read the words, or stop an activity when asked to, or be flexible with changing circumstances. Agitation levels are down and clients are experiencing a greater willingness to try previously “impossible” tasks. Some are doing things they could never do before, and with ease and grace – like going potty on their own.

And frustration is showing up in another way altogether – a feeling of “why can’t I do it as well as so-so does?” or “I know I can do this now, why is it still hard sometimes?” Or parents wondering why their child is so inconsistent. Sound familiar?

It is easy to assume that once learning gets easier, it will all come together and your child will be on grade level, experienced and ready as the other children who haven’t had to contend with the difficulties you have. However, it doesn’t really work that way – does it? Often children with learning challenges get the seeds of learning planted through the years, but are unable to do anything with them until their body-mind connection is working efficiently. Once that opens up, the seeds grow – they often grow quickly but not instantaneously. Integrating information and applying it become much easier, and the steps still need to be learned, the body-mind still needs to practice using the information.

Think of a traffic jam – the freeway is crowded, all backed up, going 5 mph, up to 25 mph, back down to a stand still. Often inconsistent and unexplainable (you keep looking for the accident that is holding it all up, and it doesn’t show up – no obvious reason for the back up). You crawl along, inching towards your destination. You try changing lanes but that can even make it take longer. You can get tired and frustrated. You even consider getting off the road altogether – but you really want to get home to dinner, to see your kids.

Then, through patience and time, the traffic begins to move and finally you are going 25, 35, 55 mph. Are you instantaneously home? I mean you have been on the road for so long, why aren’t you home yet, the traffic opened up? Your spouse is already home, never mind that s/he had a shorter distance to go, or perhaps left earlier than you did…s/he is already home, shouldn’t you be also? Of course it doesn’t work that way. You still have to travel the road to get home. It is the same road, although now you aren’t so frustrated, you can go the direct route without trying all sorts of alternatives in hopes of getting there faster, and you have confidence you will get home sooner rather than later. BUT, YOU STILL HAVE TO TRAVEL THE ROAD!

Organizing our body-mind connection works much the same way. Once processing is easier and the connections are made with greater ease, there is less frustration, the route is more direct, and the detours are less, confidence rises as does available energy to do the work. BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO TRAVEL THE ROAD! In other words, you still need the practice to solidify the connections and get more proficient and at ease with your learning. These connections then become building blocks to support the next piece of learning and so on. It doesn’t have to take the same amount of time it would have if you learned it piece by piece, because the seeds are planted, but your body needs to practice using them with your new-found efficiency. So, others may get to the answer faster because they started the process before you did, years before – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get there, or won’t, it does mean you need to be patient with yourself.

I remember Judith saying the above statement to my daughter when we were her clients. It took great patience to allow the process to take its course and not be upset that it wasn’t going faster. We did a pretty good job and the reminder really helped. When my daughter started HANDLE she struggled with even the most basic math concepts. A year and a half later she was doing well in pre-algebra and 4 years after that she was getting A’s in Calculus! Some of her classmates that had done well long before her were asking her questions on how to do things they couldn’t quite figure out. Not only did she understand it, but she could explain it in ways others could get it too. With patience, she got there in spades!

So remember, gaining efficiency is one step – a big foundational step – and HANDLE does an excellent job of facilitating that step. The next step is practice, and patience. Be grateful it is easier to learn, know your child will get more proficient, and enjoy the extra energy, time and fun, learning efficiency provides.


Speak Your Mind