No, clinical research evidence has shown effective treatment programs require a fresh mind and intensity of treatment—after school treatment does not yield optimal results because the child is tired after a day at school. Studies have shown these programs require carefully designed, daily and repetitive therapy. For most children, it is a waste of time and money to treat a tired brain or to treat with less intensity.
Children are typically enrolled in “home-school” during our intensive treatment program. Parents routinely report their children are more confident and capable upon return to school, because of the success they experienced in the program and their confidence in their improved skills. Once through the program, the child is smoothly phased back into the school setting. Our academic staff act as liaisons with the teachers. Follow-up academic support through our transition unit is an essential component of the treatment, until the child independently uses their newly acquired skills.
Transdisciplinary treatment refers to the blending or integration of treatments which are typically given separately. For example, a speech/language pathologist is trained to treat language difficulties, an occupational therapist is trained to work on the integration of sensory and motor systems involved with fine motor control and attention/arousal systems, and a psychologist is trained to help develop appropriate coping mechanisms and behavioral control. If each professional works independently, the approach is multidisciplinary. When these professionals work together to achieve the common goals the treatment is focused on similar ways for gaining behavioral control, using language reinforcement in occupational therapy and psychological sessions, and sensory processing techniques in the language sessions. Under these conditions, the treatment strategies are blended or integrated into an “transdisciplinary approach.” This approach means the client’s brain is receiving consistent information on a frequent basis – an essential step in the process of achieving results in a relatively short period of time.
The nature and complexity of learning disabilities means that what works for one may not work for another. Each service can be offered individually or cohesively. The Morris Center will tailor the service for the needs of the student.
It is easy to fall back on old habits and old strategies when stressed for time – we all do it. In order to avoid this pitfall, our academic liaison coordinates with the school to help the teacher know what accommodations would be helpful. Calling upon new skills is effortful and time consuming and the student needs more support initially. This support is provided in the child’s schoolwork by our academic liaison, either during the school day or after school in their homework. Typically, the student requires 9 to 10 weeks of 2 to 4 hours/week of support from our Transition Unit staff to solidify the skill in schoolwork. A monthly “check-up” (for an hour after school) is recommended for 6 months to ensure optimal progress and avoid pitfalls.
The period of transition is from skill acquisition to generalization of the skill to everyday academics. When intensive therapy is complete, the child will have the skills necessary for academic success. The skills are there, but they are not yet automatic, not a HABIT. To make them automatic, the child must continue to practice them daily in school work – the more practice, the more solid and efficient the skill becomes.