Exceptional Learners

I have always been fascinated by how people think and learn probably because I had such a hard time learning math. As an educator, I have been trained in working with kids with all types of disabilities and disorders. In the past three to five years, my understanding and views have changed because of the work of three individuals;  i.e., Dianne Craft, Dr. Amen and  most notably, Dr. Melillo.  I strongly encourage any parent of a child with learning challenges to research these individuals and their approaches to helping kids who struggle. I am successful because of  their research, my desire to sincerely help, and a special gift God gave me to connect with these kids. 


Let's start with ADD. Did you know that there is more than one type of ADD? Read on to see how Dr. Amen defines them.

Type 1: Classic ADD

Symptoms include being inattentive, distractible, disorganized, hyperactive, restless, and impulsive. Procrastination can also be an issue.

People with Classic ADD have reduced blood flow in the brain area of the prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. The basal ganglia help produce dopamine. 


Type 2: Inattentive ADD 

Symptoms include being inattentive and easily distracted (but not hyperactive), sluggish, and slow-moving, with low motivation. People with Inattentive ADD are often described as space cadets, daydreamers, and couch potatoes. This type is more common in girls than boys and is often diagnosed later in life because these people don't have behavior problems.1


Type 3: Overfocused ADD

Overfocused ADD includes Classic ADD symptoms, plus trouble shifting attention, frequently getting stuck in loops of negative thoughts or behaviors, obsessive, excessive worrying, inflexibility, and frequent oppositional and argumentative behavior.


Type 4: Temporal Lobe ADD

This type includes Classic ADD symptoms plus being irritable, quick-tempered and aggressive, and having dark thoughts, mood instability, and mild paranoia. People with this type might see or hear things that are not there and learning and memory problems may be present.


Type 5: Limbic ADD

This type includes Classic ADD symptoms plus chronic low-level sadness, but not depression. Negativity, "glass-half-empty syndrome," low energy, frequent feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and low self-esteem are other symptoms of this type.


Type 6: Ring of Fire ADD

This is a more extreme version of Classic ADD, plus being extremely distractible, angry, irritable, and overly sensitive to noise, light, clothes, and touch. People with this type are often inflexible, extremely verbal, oppositional, and have cyclic moodiness.

People with Ring of Fire ADD have an overactive brain. There are excessive amounts of activity in the cerebral cortex and other areas of the brain.


Type 7: Anxious ADD

Anxious ADD includes Classic ADD symptoms plus feeling anxious and tense, physical stress symptoms like a headache and stomachache, freezing when in situations that cause anxiety, and anticipating the worst.



Dr. Melillo wrote a groundbreaking book called, "Disconnected Kids". He has helped doctors, teachers, and other clinicians help kids overcome autism, learning disabilities, ADD et. al. His work is truly amazing! He believes that a deficiency in either the left or right side of the brain  causes problems.  He promotes clean eating for kids along with a drug free exercise program  to work on the vestibulary, proprioceptive, sensory motor areas and integration. I cannot brag enough on how his work has helped me reach the unreachable. 

These are some of the exercises that his "brain balance" program promotes for kids to do at home.


Aerobic Exercise: Jumping Jacks

Get into position with feet together and arms at the side. Jump up and simultaneously raise the arms and spread the legs on the descent. Do 20 in a row followed by a 15-second rest for a total of 3 sets. CHALLENGE: Try it with eyes closed.


Vestibular Exercise: Slow Spinning

Have child sit in a chair that can spin with head bent slightly forward. Legs should be off the floor an on the chair tucked in or criss-crossed. Child should keep head still and eyes closed during exercise. Spin chair slowly - it should take one minute for a single full rotation. While spinning ask child to point in the direction he is spinning. When you stop spinning the chair, ask the child if he is still spinning. If yes, wait until that feeling stops before opening eyes. If child is feeling up to it, repeat the same exercise in the opposite direction.


Proprioceptive Exercise: Superman

Have child lay flat on belly on the floor with arms straight out above head. Have her hold an arm and opposite leg up for 15 seconds and then repeat for the other opposite sides. CHALLENGE: Lift all four limbs off the floor at the same time for as long as possible (like Superman flying). The goal is to hold this position steady for 60 seconds for four sessions in a row.


Tactile Exercise: Number Tracing

With eyes covered, have child sit with arms outstretched, palms up. With eraser end of a pencil, trace a digit from 0 to 9 on the appropriate palm and ask him to identify the number. Do this three times with three different numbers. CHALLENGE: Repeat but write six random numbers at a time.Academic Exercise: Contrasting Programs

Sit facing your child. Hold up one hand and tell your child: Hold up one hand opposite mine. As soon as I raise one finger, you raise two fingers. When I put my finger down, you put yours down. Whenever I raise two fingers, you raise only one finger. Respond as quickly as possible and put your finger down each time as soon as you have responded.

Use a random pattern such as 1,1,1,2,1,2,2,1,1,2. Repeat a total of ten time and record how often the child failed to follow. It is normal to make one or two errors in each set.


Dianne Craft of Child Diagnostics is a master teacher and academic therapist. Her philosophy is that a child has one of four learning glitches because a learning gate is closed. Her brain integration therapy is helpful for kids with dyslexia, learning disabilities etc.  Her technique called "brain integration therapy" helps an educator informally diagnose their student’s processing problems and teaches daily midline exercises along with crucial once-a-week Brain Training sessions to make permanent connections between the two sides of the brain. She uses specific daily midline exercises four days a week to establish the student’s midline along with a once-a-week brain training to create permanent connections between the four learning gates: Visual Processing (dyslexia, reading, eye tracking, etc.), Visual/Motor (writing, dysgraphia, visual spatial awareness), Auditory Processing (hearing, speech, phonics, sight words, math, etc.), and Focus/Attention/Behavior (ADD/ADHD, SPD, ASD, Asperger’s, low working memory, etc.). These techniques can be used in educational settings or at home.