Here are some thoughts regarding commercially available programs that are being offered as a panacea to different learning disabilities including ADHD and Auditory Processing disorders.
Its not all black and white. I think we need to make a distinction between enrichment and remediation. As well as a distinction between a tool and therapy. All programs are tools. The tool is just as effective as the professional delivering the program. Some professionals are trained to use the tool for remediation of a specific disorder, and some professionals are trained to use the tool just to complete the steps. But at completion, everyone benefits from the enrichment. Individuals who are on the fence between disorder and weakness will benefit most at completion of a set program, because many times weaknesses can be improved with systematic enrichment. Consequently, everyone is happy and satisfied with the outcome.
On the other hand, there are ones who have a significant disorder and need remediation. Completing a program will not be significantly beneficial although the enrichment will offer some improvement. Parents often are disappointed because it was not cost effective enough to praise the program. At the end, every program has its benefits- depending on the child’s strengths, weaknesses and disabilities.
Often it may be an excellent plan to enroll kids in commercially available enrichment programs, post remediation/ therapy for purposes of maintaining and reinforcing the skills. Programs like Brain Balance, Kumon, Mathnasium, Eye Level, etc are some examples. There are many more available in the market.
Tools and programs are not miracle pills. They can certainly not cure insufficient physiological and anatomical conditions. But they can always improve the abilities to the best of the individual’s potential when provided appropriately by a professional who is knowledgeable in the area of deficit.
Parents have to be aware of these facts and look for the appropriate professional to treat the appropriate disorder. A multidisciplinary approach is not the same as one stop shop- program like Brain Balance. Medical management including drugs may have to be part of the multidisciplinary approach (example ADHD- when diagnosed accurately). There are conditions such as APD that can be mistaken for ADHD often. And many times the 2 disorders do coexist.
In short, there is no straight forward answer to a highly complex organ such as the Brain. Brain’s functions and its disorders/ weakness are not easy to discern. Especially since it is so resilient and versatile. It is always trying to compensate in every which way it can. Any insufficiency in the brain’s connections result in learning disabilities. So don’t throw the baby with the bath water, understanding the learning disability and treating it appropriately is very important.