Academic Challenges/Learning Differences Support
Of the teens we treat at Paradigm Malibu, it’s extremely common for teens that are struggling with Mental Illness or Substance abuse issues to be struggling academically, as well. Sometimes, teens have a learning disability as a co-occurring disorder. One of the most common being ADD. Other times, the effects of the Mental Illness or Substance Abuse issues simply cause stress and difficulty in school as well, resulting in struggles learning and/or falling behind. Regardless of why your teen might be struggling in school, we strive to provide special support and assistance to students to help them recover academically, as one important aspect of their overall recovery.
For teenagers with learning disabilities and/or specific academic challenges, we provide one-on-one tutoring with University tutors, who can help students work through assignments in a focused setting, and at the student’s pace. For students with learning differences, we understand that the classroom can often be a stressful setting, where they feel intimidated, overwhelmed, anxious, or possibly even incapable. Though all students will engage in small classes in their time here, the tutoring sessions are made available to supplement these group lessons.
Along with assisting students in working through curriculum and helping them to understand the material, therapists also work with the teens to help them recognize what sorts of stress they might experience because of school work, how they react to that stress, and what their needs are. Many times, students aren’t necessarily aware of the help they need until they get it or, until they’ve had a chance to focus on their needs in an unthreatening, unintimidating setting. In an attempt to help empower students not only to succeed academically, but also, better manage their stress at school, therapists work with teens to break old negative habits and develop new ones. This behavioral observation and reform may include both things related to symptoms and experience within mental illness, as well as substance abuse. Overall, as we work with teens within the scope of our Academic Support programs, we strive to help teens gain confidence in who they are as students and all they’re capable of, as well as being comfortable with asking for and receiving the help that they need.
What Is It?
For students with learning disabilities, school-related stress can start as early as pre-school and kindergarten. Where other children will be experiencing success and accomplishments with reading, writing, drawing, and speaking, kids with a learning disability can be left behind with feelings of frustration and inadequacy. They quickly learn that the silver star is not as good as the gold one and can internalize these experiences as a reflection of their value and ability. Though many children learn ways of accommodating for the different ways in which their brains process information (e.g., by asking their neighbor, relying on their memories, talking rather than writing, etc.), these creative adaptations easily can be overwhelmed by the increasing demands of the classroom or can be seen as behavioral problems. As the child becomes a teen, the learning disability, particularly undiagnosed, and the related or adaptive behaviors become increasingly impossible to tease out, thus an auditory processing disorder and under-performance and anxiety become a matter of the chicken or the egg.
What Does It Look Like
Learning Disabilities (LDs) are not a measure of intelligence nor are they intellectual disabilities. Rather, what we call Learning Disabilities (LDs) are actually differences in the ways in which a person’s brain receives, interprets, stores, and responds to information. These differences in how your teen’s brain processes information can make the skills of traditional education difficult to learn, perform, and master, thereby encumbering academic success. LDs range from mild to severe and can also co-occur, meaning it is not uncommon for people to be diagnosed with a combination of LDs, such as dyslexia and ADD. Examples of LDs are:
- Information Processing Disorders (Auditory or Visual)
- Related Attention Disorders (Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD))
Treatment for Learning Differences / Academic Challenges
Though LDs are not mental health issues, it is not uncommon for teens with LDs to struggle with anxiety or depression, substance abuse or other maladaptive coping related to the life and educational experiences they have had in relation to their information processing differences.
When the mental health and behavioral issues with which a teen with LDs may be struggling are addressed, much of the heaviness that your teen is accustomed to carrying can be teased apart and released. Unpacking the psychological weight of the “Stupid” label requires a range of treatment approaches that meet the teen’s mental health needs while also providing support for their learning and academic success.
Psychological testing provides reliable and objective information about a teen’s cognitive and emotional functioning. The results, combined with a psychiatric assessment by a board certified psychiatrist, can identify the underlying issues at hand and determine if there is a need for additional testing or assessment.
Therapists work with teens to help them recognize what they have been and may be experiencing because of their Learning Disability, school work, responses to and ways of coping with stress, and their unmet needs. Many times, adolescents aren’t necessarily aware of the help they need until they receive it or until they’ve had a chance to explore their needs in an unthreatening, supportive setting. In an effort to empower teens to better manage their LDs and school and learning related stressors, therapists work with an adolescent to explore experiences and feelings, identify destructive habits, and develop new, alternative coping behaviors.
Expressive Arts Therapies
This behavioral observation and reform may include both things related to symptoms and experience within mental illness, as well as substance abuse.
Academic Support and Tutoring
For teenagers with LDs, we provide one-on-one tutoring with University tutors, who can help students work through assignments in a focused setting, and at the student’s pace. For students with learning disabilities, we understand that the classroom can often be a stressful setting, where they feel intimidated, overwhelmed, anxious, or possibly even incapable. Though all students will engage in small classes in their time here, the tutoring sessions are made available to supplement these group lessons.
Overall, as we work with teens within the scope of our Academic Support programs, we strive to help teens gain confidence in who they are as students and all they’re capable of, as well as being comfortable with asking for and receiving the help that they need.
How can residential treatment help me with my learning disability?
Teens who have been assessed and have received an accurate diagnosis of a learning disability feel relief to have a name for what they experience; these teens often fare better than their peers who have not been properly assessed. Assessed or unassessed, by the time a child with LDs reaches adolescence, the emotional tolls and negative coping behaviors can accrue to a point that requires additional treatment and care.