Distinctives of Educational Therapy
1. The approach is individualized and always one-on-one, allowing specially trained educational therapists to design an educational program specifically aimed to stimulate areas of deficit for each student. It is also intense, as the therapist acts as the mediator to help the student go beyond the point where he/she could go on his or her own. Therapy provides the stimulation necessary to improve deficit areas. The process allows the student to succeed at real tasks rather than bypassing or just compensating for areas not mastered.
2. Educational therapy is non-tutorial in nature. The focus is not on passing a test or completing an assignment, but to teach the student the skills to become an independent learner. Process (understanding how and why to do something) is more important than the product (getting an answer). The goal of educational therapy is to mediate the creation through process stimulation; a step-by-step approach to developing basic skills; and strategy development and application for real life learning. All of these components are integrated to allow the student to become an independent and successful learner in the classroom and in life – teaching his/her God-given potential.
3. The emphasis is on deficit stimulation as opposed to compensation. Deficit areas cause disruption in the learning process and can cause repressed testing scores. Educational therapy targets the specific deficit areas and creates stimulation to bring them to more normal functioning. We know from brain research that the brain responds to stimulation and will develop the learning connections if intentionally targeted. This “stimulation” is accomplished through an interactive questioning and mediating process that keeps the student constantly engaged and thinking during a therapy session.
4. Techniques and materials are designed to emphasize various processing modalities and learning strategies. Throughout each segment, this is an emphasis on the integration of techniques designed to teach the student to perceive information accurately (input); cognitively connect it to previously learning material accurately (elaboration); structure and organize the information into a logical pattern; then articulate the understanding clearly and correctly (output). Content is secondary to the focus on the underlying skills of perception, thinking and verbal skills that will make the student successful in the classroom. In other words, the process is more important than getting the “correct” answer.
5. The program requires a team effort between home and school, with the educational therapist, classroom teacher(s) being partners with the parents. Parental involvement is critical to the student’s progress. The students are the beneficiaries. Most students develop a more positive self-image rather quickly after beginning the program as it provides a trusting, safe, and challenging learning environment. The student learns through experience that he/she is bright and capable of learning, even in the areas that are difficult.
Students and parents also participate in writing annual goals and are given explanations to help them understand why some areas are difficult and what is needed to succeed. Independence is stressed as a part of the program.
6. Educational therapy is effective for students ages 5 – Adult. Typically, students in the educational therapy intervention program improve 1 to 1-1/2 years in reading, writing, spelling and math each year. There are also some who have made 3 to 6 years growth in an academic year. There are often positive changes when retested on intelligence testing after intervention. Parents and teachers report significant changes in social maturity, ease of managing assignments, grades and self-concept. Progress is generally steady, but this is not a “quick-fix” program. Again, we know from brain research, that to make lasting changes in the way one learns requires consistent and persistent stimulation over a longer period of time. Most students will require from 3-5 years in the program to reach the independent learner status seen as the goal for “graduation dismissal.”