The term “learning disabilities” is a misnomer, according to a doctor of education who has spent years researching the subject.
Dr. Jan Strydom has devised a system of learning, called Audiblox, which is proving popular with educators and which, he says, can have “remarkable results” for many children who have been diagnosed as learning disabled.
“It is essential that children be equipped with the tools they need for learning,” says Dr. Strydom who has a master’s degree in philosophy, a higher teaching diploma and a doctorate in education. “A large percentage of children who have been called learning disabled are not disabled at all and can be helped to increase their learning capacities.”
It is important to understand why some children seem to struggle, he says.
“When assessing a child who is falling behind at school or not achieving reasonable results, you must go back to the basic fact that every human being only knows and can do what he or she has learned.
“Often, the reason why a child is showing failure to learn properly is that he simply has not been taught how to learn.
“Once the problem is addressed in the right way, progress can be remarkable.”
Dr. Strydom explains that the development of certain foundational skills – such as perception, memory, and concentration – is necessary before a child is able to learn successfully. When a child is systematically exercised on these foundational skills, the learning capacity increases and the problem starts to diminish.
For many years Dr. Strydom, who is the father of three and grandfather of one, has been taking great interest in school readiness. Before his youngest daughter started school he devised a program of school-readiness specifically for her, and when she started school she did extremely well.
He then turned his attention to the question of learning disabilities and applied the same precepts as those he had applied to the school-readiness situation, crystallizing the theory that in order to learn children should be taught how to learn.
The essence of his system, called Audiblox, is a program of mental exercises that develop the foundational skills of learning. The lessons can be done at home, in the school or by private tutors. In a school setting a lesson usually takes 30 minutes per day, four or five times a week, and is frequently used to prevent learning disabilities.
“It is important to try to prevent difficulties arising,” says Dr. Strydom. “Children must be equipped with the skills that will enable them to learn well. At the sea or the swimming pool one wouldn’t wait to see if a child was going to drown before doing something about it. You’d give him swimming lessons to make sure that he didn’t.”