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Beyond Ritalin

An alternative therapy to helping kids with ADHD By Learning RX

If your child has been labeled “ADHD,” you may already feel the pressure to pump him full of Ritalin. But while it’s estimated that 6 million children will take Ritalin or other brands of stimulant medications, that doesn’t mean that a prescription is right for your child. Like all medications, there are risks and side effects associated with taking stimulants: insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability and perhaps most common – a sense of emotional “numbness.” And while some parents swear that the benefits have been enough to get their children back on track in school, there is a growing movement toward non-drug therapies to help kids with ADHD. One therapy that has proved particularly effective is called “cognitive skills training.” 24 | savvy kids January 2013

What are cognitive skills? Unlike tutoring or computer-based programs that focus on behavior management or specific academic skills, cognitive skills training helps children with learning disabilities attend to and process information. “Cognitive skills are the essential, but often overlooked fundamental tools of effective learning,” explains Ken Gibson, founder of LearningRx, a national franchise that specializes in cognitive skills training. “Learning isn’t about how much you know, but how effectively you process or handle the information you receive. Cognitive skills are the mental mechanisms that process incoming information.”

Unlike academic disciplines, cognitive skills are not the subject taught in school classrooms. “Most parents – and some educators – are unaware that there’s a difference between cognitive and academic skills,” says Gibson. “Cognitive skills are the underlying tools that enable kids to successfully focus, think, prioritize, plan, understand, visualize, remember and create useful associations, and solve problems.”

How are weak cognitive skills identified? Cognitive skills are not easy to see or recognize through casual observation. They function behind the scenes as you process the information received from every possible source – sound, touch, sight, and even information received from yourself when you are thinking, speculating, or recalling. Because

Savvy Kids January 2013  

A medical breakthrough, special needs, Razorback cheerleader, Beyond Ritalin, and more!

Savvy Kids January 2013  

A medical breakthrough, special needs, Razorback cheerleader, Beyond Ritalin, and more!