COGNITIVE RETRAINING TECHNIQUES

Instituted in France initially on stroke victims with great success, the Cognitive Retraining Techniques program is based on the Bellefonds Method. Initially there were about 30 different exercises used that were refined to 10. Its objective is to rehabilitate the areas of the brain that are most frequently involved with learning disabilities. The focus is rehabilitative, not compensatory. These exercises are devised to target those deficient neurocognitive systems and strengthen them, allowing for normal processing of information and leading to a more typical learning response within the classroom. Please note that this program benefits people of all ages and is PERMANENT.

This is an effective intervention because it comprehensively addresses all of the central information processing problems that typically make up the pattern of information in learning-disabled individuals.

Based upon the strategic and repetitive nature of its ten different techniques, this program is designed to be repeated 5-7 days a week, resulting in success. Exercise sessions are intended to last no longer than 30 minutes per session. The program has been described as “aerobics for the brain” and rightly so, since much like aerobics, light exercise done consistently and frequently is far more beneficial than exercising intensely only once or twice a month.

This is a program that requires a significant commitment from parents and should never be considered a quick fix. Improvement in learning occurs because of neurophysiological changes that have taken place in the brain. This does not occur overnight.

Because frequency of exercises is so essential to the success of this program, parents must commit to 6 days per week for up to a minimum of 40-44 weeks to a maximum of 2 years. This will allow for any emergencies where the student cannot do the exercises all 6 days.

Adaptive and/or academic improvement, however, rarely continues at a steady pace. These adaptive gains often operate in fits and starts, and it is not unusual to observe little or no progress for extended periods. The best way to explain this is that, with many of these exercises, stimulation of the neural system requires some period of time before “critical mass” has occurred and an adaptive breakthrough is noticed. Progress is often seen on the basis of “click” moments, occasions when something seems to click and there is an observable change.

A surprising number of children respond enthusiastically to the Cognitive Retraining Techniques, but no child is expected to be self-motivated to do these exercises. It must always be understood that many of these activities are challenging a neural system that does not work particularly well and therefore results in a good deal of frustration for the child.

It is important to recognize a couple of behavior principles while trying to motivate your child for these exercises. When negative behaviors surface as a response to treatment sessions, the underlying dynamic for these behaviors, in the vast majority of cases, will be those associated with either task avoidance or negative attention seeking. Often there is a combination of these behaviors.

CRT Options:

(1) Six 30-minute sessions/week — approximately 40-44 weeks. Cost: $1544.

(2) Five 30-minute sessions/week — approximately 55 weeks. Cost: $1544.

(3) Parent as Practitioner Training — 3 days + equipment and support. Includes hotel room and meals. Cost: $1200.

March 28-30, 2013 — Bridgewater, VA

August 8-10, 2013 — Bridgewater, VA

Mary Ann Heerschap received training under James R. Schuyler and Scott Flurry at Holy Family Learning, Pittsburgh, PA, and has effectively used this method on two of her children. Please leave a message at 540-271-6533 as to which date you wish to attend.

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