Specialized therapy can work wonders for learning disabilities

Healthline: Specialized therapy can work wonders for learning disabilities

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Children with ADHD in Louisiana are among the most medicated in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. The state addressed the issue with a December symposium at the Department of Health and Hospitals, where CDC experts touted the success of behavioral therapy and encouraged its expanded use.

It's the same type of therapy offered at Dynamic Therapy Specialists on Siegen Lane.

14-year-old Brennan Heard has been using their methods for one year. Diagnosed with learning problems at age eight, Brennan's mother wanted prescription drugs to be a last resort.

"I knew that he had the ability to learn, it was just taking him a very long time to learn,' Tammy Heard said. "A lot of studying, a lot of going over things, a lot of tutoring."

So the family turned to two speech pathologists who take a different approach.

"While other people are doing a really nice job helping people to manage the challenges, our focus is to really figure out how do we help that not to be a challenge," said Vicky Roy. "It takes longer, but the results are qualitatively different."

Roy and Stacy Levy have practiced together since 2010, offering therapies that focus on the biomechanics of the body and how they're connected to the brain. Constantly researching methods used in other clinics around the world, the pair regularly brings successful techniques home to Baton Rouge. The goal is to stimulate both sides of the brain, strengthening pathways between the two hemispheres.

"With ball work it is about crossing midline," Roy said after demonstrating an exercise with Brennan that required him to bounce balls while standing on a balance board. "There are hundreds of opportunities for visual tracking, which is going to improve reading comprehension, and so we are using technique to get the body to engage in certain ways, because we know by doing that it has to send signals to certain parts of the brain."

"I guess you could say intense, but it makes you calm, focused, and relaxed," the younger Heard said.

In one year, Brennan has gone from one of the slowest runners on his baseball team to the fastest. He's excelling in the classroom too, all without the side effects of medication.

"His handwriting is better, which has other things attached to it: good note-taking, good processing, things like that," Tammy Heard said. "He can study quicker, some of the different techniques she's given us to study, he goes through things in about a third of the time."

Roy and Levy explained that their type of therapy is not for everyone, but said parents should know that they have options.

"Oftentimes I'll tell families, 'You will likely need to be on medication in order for your child to stay in school, and in the meanwhile, we will work at the cause, the core issue,'" Levy said.

Dynamic Therapy Specialists also offers the area's only full-day summer camp for children with learning disabilities. Activities focus on reading comprehension, written expression and peer collaboration. Campers must be early, conventional readers and must be able to get along with their peers. Contact DTS for more information: 225-767-5032

Copyright WAFB 2015. All Rights Reserved.