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Shaping Futures: A Clinician’s Guide to Fostering Development and Facilitating Learning

Chanie Monoker

June 19, 2023
Shaping Futures: A Clinician’s Guide to Fostering Development and Facilitating Learning

Empowering Parents and Teachers for Optimal Support

Have you ever wished your child came with a manual?
I know that, like me, you are eager to support your child, but you don’t always know how.

If only you had the information you needed to do so, you gladly would support your child to help them shine.

Unveiling the Basics

Here’s what we do know:
LOTS!
There is an overwhelming amount of information out there.
So let’s boil it down to the basics.
People are born as feeling beings and learn to cultivate thought.
This thought is then manifest in action.
We perceive someone else’s action or non-action as a behavior.
Attachment is a feeling of being seen, heard, accepted and respected while on the journey and not just when they have reached the finish line.
Unfortunately, our own feelings often hinder our ability to truly see others.
Instead we assign intent to the actions we see.
But what if we could pull back the curtain and see what is underneath the action?

Uncovering the Underlying Factors

You or your child’s teacher may “know” that your child has a behavior issue.
How do they know this?  Because they see the child listens when they “want to”.
This may be true, or it may be true some of the time.  But what about the child who has middle ear fluid?  This condition causes hearing to fluctuate and is not in the child’s control.

You may be surprised to learn that middle ear fluid is the #1 medical condition in childhood.
If this is the case, shouldn’t we presume that sporadic listening is likely due to the #1 cause to fluctuations in hearing acuity?

The problem is we have gotten in the habit of managing the overt and obvious, in this case the “problem” of the child not following direction, that we forget the more obvious –
EVERYONE wants to succeed, so no child would intentionally invite criticism or negative consequence.  The reason the child is not performing in the way the parent or teacher would like is they can’t.  As responsible adults, the question we need to ask is: What is underlying this inability?

Beyond Labels: Understanding Dyslexia

Let’s consider another common yet misunderstood issue: dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a label that simply says the person struggles to read.  When you take a physiological approach, we discover that underlying auditory, visual, and/or vestibular issues may contribute to the problem. Although some professionals recognize auditory or visual subtypes, none include the vestibular component.

The label itself presents a problem because it gives people the false impression of having received a comprehensive diagnosis.  It’s like diagnosing a rash without differentiating what type of rash.  You wouldn’t treat hives, eczema, poison ivy and chicken pox in the same way just because they are all a “rash”.  Imagine calling your doctor and saying, “My child has a rash, what should I do?” If the doctor responds, “You need to come in so I can examine it,” and later confirms, “Yes, it’s a rash, here’s something for the itching,” you might question the value of the visit. Instead, you could have purchased an over-the-counter cream for itching, spending less than the doctor’s copay and avoiding the wait time. Clearly, the concerns, and the need for differentiation, goes beyond the itching symptom.

Unfortunately, this is how we often approach academic and developmental issues. The school system’s testing process aims to a) confirm the presence of an issue and b) determine if it is significant enough to warrant support. However, it fails to explore the underlying causes. Many frustrated and confused parents reach out, expressing their confusion about why reading support isn’t effective or why it helped in English but not in Hebrew reading. The reason is simple: without addressing the underlying physiological processes, reading is taught as a splinter skill using compensatory strategies.

For our boys it is arguably the Hebrew reading that is more important.  Parents who understand this will seek private solutions. However, without understanding what is causing the reading problem you aren’t addressing the underlying issue, which impacts more than just reading.  You also don’t know which reading approach will optimize your time and money, and most importantly, your child’s taste of success.

When we mistake the sign that a reading disorder truly is and confuse it for a standalone condition, it’s no wonder that parents often feel overwhelmed and confused. The pressure of meeting the school’s expectations to support our children, all while not truly knowing how to do so, can easily distract us from the most important goal: building a healthy child – through attachment.

Unveiling the Path: Considerations for Uncovering the Underlying Factors

To ensure we stay focused on the ultimate prize—fostering development and facilitating learning—let’s consider the following factors in our journey:

  • Identifying red flags and indicators: What specific behaviors or challenges are we observing in our child’s reading journey that may suggest underlying issues?
  • Considering developmental milestones: What role do these milestones play in academic and social performance? How can we leverage them to support our child’s growth?
  • Emotional support and communication: How can we create a safe and supportive environment where our child feels comfortable discussing their struggles and emotions related to reading?
  • Nurturing self-esteem and motivation: What can we do to foster a positive mindset, boost self-confidence, and maintain our child’s enthusiasm for learning?
  • Assessing educational approaches: Are there alternative teaching methods or interventions that align with our child’s specific needs and learning style?
  • Individual strengths and interests: How can we harness our child’s unique talents and passions to foster a love for reading and make the learning experience more enjoyable?
  • Seeking professional guidance: Who are the targeted experts who can provide insights and assessments to identify these underlying factors? This includes identifying the right discipline as well as the provider sub-qualifications within the discipline.
  • Collaborating with educators: How can we effectively communicate and work together with our child’s teachers to develop strategies and accommodations that support their reading progress?
  • Nutrition and overall well-being: Are there any dietary factors or lifestyle choices that could contribute to our child’s reading challenges?
  • Family dynamics and support system: How can we strengthen family bonds and provide a supportive network that encourages our child’s growth and development?

Walking the Walk: Understanding Through Experience

The best way to find compassion for someone is to understand their world.
In my teachings of Aural Rehabilitation to Speech Pathology students, I assign the following exercise: Wear earplugs for 30 minutes indoors (as hearing loss poses safety risks on the street) while eating with a group. Afterwards, write a paper about your experience, how you felt, and how others treated you. I encourage you to try it yourself and observe how you feel both physically and emotionally. Now, imagine what it’s like for a child who cannot remove their middle ear fluid after 30 minutes, living in a body that does not support the demands placed upon them.

My goal is to ensure you know that there is a resource here dedicated to supporting parents and teachers. Through empowering information that delves deep into the core issues, we can resolve challenges together. Even more importantly, this knowledge can be a game-changer when it comes to preventing developmental concerns. By identifying and addressing the early signs, we can mitigate the risks and prevent them from evolving into significant developmental hurdles and, above all, relational strains. We understand that nothing can erode attachment like feeling misunderstood and unsupported, and that’s why we’re here to provide the guidance and support you need.

Chanie Monoker, MS, MPh, CCC-A, TEH, TSHH, TDHH, is a developmental audiologist and educator who describes herself as, “a very curious and insatiable learner who loves puzzles.  I have spent the last three decades focusing most of my curiosity on the learning process.  I have more letters after my name than in my name because I collect knowledge like other people collect coins, stamps or cars ;-). ” She started out like most teachers, thinking that her schooling in pedagogy had prepared her for the classroom, and was quickly startled out of complacency when working in the classroom.
Then she began asking questions:
How do people learn? 
Why do some people fail to be successful at it? 
How come people can be successful in learning one skill or subject and not another? 
How can they be successful one day and not another? 
What is the best way to teach? 
How to prioritize what to teach when the student or situation limits what you can do? 
How can we maximize what the students learn? 
How can we maximize how many students we reach? 
How can I balance my passion for teaching with my personal needs and my family’s needs? 
By incorporating a combination of clinical and pedagogical training and experience Chanie arrived at a holistic understanding of the learning process.  An understanding that maximizes learning and mitigates the snowball effect when we proceed in teaching before the student is ready for the next stage.  What she discovered was, ironically, we have had the answers all along, but are pulled away from these truths 
by outside pressure and the shininess of “new”.  People have not fundamentally changed since Creation and neither has how they learn. It is the tools available that has changed. This understanding became the umbrella for the 2-pronged approach to improving learning. 
There is the clinical side, which takes a bottom-up approach to resolving learning differences.  The clinic’s customized tiered level assessments can be found at Hearing-kids.com. 
Then there is the academic side, which utilizes a top-down approach.  This empowers parents and teachers to be better facilitators of learning and stewards of teaching.  These trainings have been
improved and expanded over the last 15 years and is copyrighted as the Child First© educational model being brought to you here.
Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash
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