Overcoming Learning Disabilities


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Corey Harden of Greensboro, 10, is an exceptionally bright, creative fourth-grader who gets mostly straight As in school. But things weren't always as easy for him. Corey has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has had to overcome many learning difficulties since being diagnosed in kindergarten. ADHD is an increasingly common disorder that causes difficulties in staying focused and paying attention, difficulties in controlling behavior and hyperactivity.

Corey's mother, Candace Kaufman, said that it took several years of doctor visits to figure out why Corey was experiencing developmental delays and to get a diagnosis.

After suffering recurrent ear infections as a toddler, she and her husband made the decision to have tubes put in Corey's ears when he was 4 years old. The recurrent infections and fluid in his ears caused a speech delay, so Corey began speech therapy.

Once he started kindergarten, Corey began to display some behavior issues, such as problems sitting still and paying attention in class as well as problems with his handwriting skills. "At the time, I didn't know how much of it was age-related or related to just being a young boy," Kaufman said.

She continued to seek doctor's opinions because she believed something just wasn't quite right. Her pediatrician thought Corey could possibly have ADHD, but was more concerned with his handwriting difficulties. So Corey began occupational therapy to help improve his writing skills.

Finally, during a family dinner, Kaufman's aunt told her about another family member who had dysgraphia, a learning disability that causes a deficiency in the ability to write, regardless of the ability to read. Dysgraphia is hereditary, and Kaufman believed she had finally found the key to Corey's learning difficulties. After a doctor confirmed the dysgraphia, Corey was also officially diagnosed with ADHD.

Kaufman struggled with the decision to put Corey on medication for ADHD, but finally decided to try it. After trying three different medications, doctors finally found the correct medicine and dosage, and Kaufman began to see huge improvements in Corey's ability to focus in school and with homework. As a result, his writing skills improved drastically. He is still on the medication for ADHD today and is doing extremely well in school.

A few years ago, Kaufman began working for a natural products company and pursuing a master's degree in holistic nutrition education. "I have learned so much about nutrition and how our diet affects our brains, especially its relation to learning disabilities," Kaufman said. "We changed Corey's diet, cutting out all sugary cereals and limiting other sugary foods as well as eliminating soft drinks and all foods containing colored dyes, and we saw even more improvement in his ability to stay focused and pay attention in school. Diet is key in helping kids with ADHD and other learning disabilities."

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