This article presents information from various sources that shed light on various learning disabilities, specifically attention deficit disorder, and the different options for dealing with them, focusing on a new and unique solution: the Genius Notebook.

The Problem:

Many children and adolescents are diagnosed at various stages of their lives as suffering from an attention deficit disorder and/or other learning disability.
Learning disabilities are expressed as difficulty acquiring basic learning skills, most commonly due to neurological factors. Learning disabilities may be discovered when a child first begins school, while the signs may begin to surface even beforehand, when the child is in kindergarten, and occasionally even at an earlier stage. A person’s environment is liable to worsen the effects of a learning disability. Children with learning disabilities often have average or higher cognitive potentials, but they struggle with one or more of the following skills: reading, writing, spelling and mathematics.

Attention deficit disorder is a combination of difficulties in the following areas (all together or some of them): the ability to concentrate for long intervals, the ability to ignore stimulants, the ability to notice details, the ability to keep organized and neat, the ability to remember things, and more. Some individuals with this disorder also tend to be impulsive and hyperactive, which is expressed as restlessness, the need to constantly move, and more.

Learning Disabilities:

Children with learning disabilities experience difficulty with one or more of the following skills: reading, writing, spelling and mathematics. This difficulty is liable to result in impaired functioning in all scholastic subjects. Learning disabilities are expressed in one or more of the following cognitive mechanisms:

Visual perception and processing: Noticing details, graphic symbols and directions, differentiating between figures and background, the ability to see the complete picture and its components.

Phonological perception and processing: Differentiation between similar sounds, identification and isolation of a sound from the beginning or end of a word, breaking down or formulating a word using its phonetic components, the ability to leave out parts of a word.

Visual and audial memory: Short and long term memory, extracting from the memory database, active memory, memory during processing, memory with and without meaning.

Language: Pronunciation, extraction and quick automatic application – vocabulary, grammar, morphology.

Attention span: Hyperactivity, impulsivity or reduced activity.
Sensory processing: Hypersensitivity, overstimulation or under-stimulation.
Motor functioning and sensorimotor functioning: Gross and fine motor skills.
Impairment of orientation: In terms of time and space.
Learning disabilities are expressed differently over the years and have varying consequences in an individual’s life as he/she develops and learns.Types of difficulties characteristic of students with learning disabilities: Learning disabilities are expressed as discernable difficulty with two central aspects of learning.

Acquiring basic learning skills (reading, writing, mathematics), and using learning skills according to the requirements for that age group, especially in the following areas: reading, writing, mathematics, foreign languages and all levels of use of the language – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Reading Disabilities – Dyslexia
A reading disability characterized by difficulty acquiring reading skills at the normal age, slower reading, mistakes and difficulty deriving meaning from the text, as well as future problems such as dealing with and understanding long texts. Other reading problems are caused as a result of difficulty processing visual information, such as identifying differences in direction, differentiating between shapes, and more.

Writing Disabilities – Dysgraphia
A writing disability characterized by too much or too little pressure exerted on the pencil, slower writing, many spelling mistakes, improper formulation of sentences, avoidance of writing or use of short answers to avoid having to write too much. The level of the content expressed by the student in writing is usually lower than the content he is able to express orally, due to the effort invested in the technical aspect of writing and the distraction it causes from the content itself.

These difficulties are usually also influenced by issues related to fine motor skills (such as difficulty holding the pencil properly), visual perception (such as difficulty differentiating between letters) and hand-eye coordination.

Mathematics Disabilities – Dyscalculia
These disabilities are expressed as difficulty acquiring arithmetic skills at the normal age, understanding central concepts in mathematics and solving math problems.

Common Characteristics among Individuals with Learning Disabilities (Partial List):

Kindergarten
Attention span: Hyperactivity, easily distracted, unable to persist/complete tasks, mood swings, impaired ability to deal with failure.
Visual – motor: Difficulty with games involving attention to detail, differentiating between figures and backgrounds, difficulty with fine motor skills (buttoning, lacing), motor clumsiness (falling, tripping over objects), avoiding activities such as drawing, coloring, cutting.
Behavior – social: Difficulty developing social relationships, understanding social situations and accepting the rules of the game.
There are also various problems related to language, thinking and math.

Early Elementary School (Grades 1-4)
Reading and writing – early stage: Avoiding reading, difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds, difficulty connecting parts of a word to form a whole word, reading mistakes, slower reading, unusual spelling mistakes in terms of quality and quantity.
Visual – motor: Holds pencil uncomfortably and/or applies excessive or insufficient pressure on the pencil, difficulty shaping letters and organizing assignment on the page (illegible handwriting), slow in completing tasks that require fine motor skills (such as sketching or drawing).
There are also various problems related to language, thinking and math.

Grades 5-8
Reading and writing: Reading mistakes, slow reading and writing, avoids reading aloud, difficulty with written expression (a sense that the child is not successful in accurately portraying his knowledge, thoughts and ideas), difficulty learning how to read and write in a foreign language, many spelling mistakes.
Visual – motor: Illegible handwriting, difficulty holding a pen or pencil, apprehension about writing and no desire to write, difficulty with organization (organizing school supplies, time management) and more.

High School
Language and cognitive thinking: Inability to integrate knowledge from several texts and sources, difficulty applying effective learning strategies, difficulty remembering material for exams.
Attention span: Problems with absorbing material in class (empty notebooks), fatigue, difficulty persisting during tasks, exaggerated attention to detail or the opposite, a lack of attention to small details.
Visual – motor: Slow while working, clumsy.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD – is characterized as a neuro-developmental disorder whose symptoms are (all together or some of them): difficulty concentrating on one activity when there are stimulants and distractions in the area, hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and more. ADHD can be present in individuals of any age, and is liable to interfere with learning and manifest as a learning disability.

ADHD is also characterized by difficulty keeping organized, which is expressed as a tendency to “make a mess” in their work environment. Usually, the learning skills taught in the school systems are designed for the majority of students, so a student with an attention deficit disorder must learn on two different dimensions simultaneously: he must complete the tasks required of the entire class, and also find ways and tools by himself to enable him to meet the requirements. This is a challenging experience for students of all ages, and even for college students and individuals who spend years in academia.

In many cases, students of various ages who suffer from attention deficit disorders must learn both the material taught and a learning style that enables them to internalize it. This results in the need for external assistance, which begins at elementary school age and sometimes even prior – in early childhood, at kindergarten age, in order to provide the appropriate support and direction. Remedial teaching can be one of the ways to deal with these challenges and impart tools, but it seems that the system needs additional tools to enable these students to get back on track with their studies throughout the years.

Attention deficit disorders have fixed, ongoing characteristics that accompany a person throughout life and are expressed in different ways, the primary and most pressing of which is in the scholastic realm. Despite the fact that the disorder does remain and is part of the person’s life, acquiring various tools can result in a significant improvement in the areas that these tools address. Scholastic tools can help with learning, but can also contribute positively in other areas of life. There are several ways to improve the weaker skills of people with attention deficit disorders. For example, a more effective working style can be developed with remedial teaching, learning skills can be taught and meta-cognition developed in order to formulate learning strategies, and more.

The Necessity:
In terms of reading and writing, the discussion usually focuses on the ability to read and understand the words themselves, meaning – the cognitive ability to turn a collection of graphic symbols into meaningful words and to understand the connection between them.
Over the past few years, an awareness has developed that not only does the academic level of the content impact the ability to decipher and understand it, but also the immediate work environment – how the material is written, and the broader work environment – the conditions under which the process of learning is performed, have a significant impact.
No one likes to be in a noisy, crowded and visually overloaded environment. It makes us feel unpleasantly stressed and even anxious. Yet, most of us are able to deal with such an environment without even being aware of the fact that it bothers us.

However, for many children, the way that the text is presented for reading or writing, and the classrooms, are liable to create an additional burden that makes the already difficult task of learning even more difficult. Instead of the child focusing his efforts on interacting with the text, he channels precious resources toward his attempt to push away an excess of sensory stimulants that are distracting him from the task he is trying to accomplish. Thus, for example, loud or sudden noises, the movement of children in the room, strong smells of food, a crowded and unsuitable desk and improper lighting can all overstimulate the brain (“hyperstimulation”) and quickly cause fatigue and frustration.

The Solution – The Genius Notebook:

The Genius Notebook helps students with various disorders that are expressed as anxiety, restlessness and difficulty concentrating.

The notebook was developed and designed to enable maximal concentration and ease of writing for students. The wide-paged Genius Notebook facilitates consecutive learning, focus and order. Thanks to the size of the notebook (slightly larger than A4-sized pages), the student benefits from a visual space that encourages precision and order, without interfering with the didactic sequence. The design of the pages themselves is cognitively adapted to the students’ needs: clear, light colored lines, separated by a large space with blue shaded lines, scientifically proven to be a color that helps with concentration, visual focusing and calmness. The notebook is the first notebook in the world that was developed according to the recommendations of expert ophthalmologists of international caliber, such as Robert Lederman, who specialize in sight and vision focusing problems among children. Thanks to its unique design and clear advantages in creating a successful didactic experience, and due to its emphasis on eye-brain connection and student cognition, specialists in pediatric vision focusing problems are implementing the Genius Notebook. It has won recommendations from educational supervisors, principals, teachers, parents and students. The notebook is also frequently used by remedial teachers.

Added Value – Advantages:
Imparts a sense of order, cleanliness and aesthetics, which are very important to students suffering from various types of anxiety.
Creates a clear, calm, organized and fundamentally different work surface in comparison with environments that are “busy” visually and auditorily.
Enables working for longer intervals, with a high sense of satisfaction.

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