The Reticular Activating System (RAS)- is a network of neurons (hyper-, hypo-, or, varied) located in the brain stem that project anteriorly to the hypothalamus to mediate behavior such as sleep, memory, and learning; as well as, both posteriorly to the thalamus and directly to the cortex for activation of awake, desynchronized cortical EEG patterns. It is holistically and spiritually known from being a center “where we can create our own reality” whether positive, negative or neutral. Knowing: What we focus on in our mind (thymus), pons (dream center) then comes to fruition here in our RAS. The RAS (ARAS) is our consciousness and how we make our thoughts, ideas, focuses, intents, or dreams into reality. It’s again in coordination with our thymus, and pons along with the soma/alta major chakras for consciousness-awareness of soul, meaning God’s perceptions and our purpose. Also, I think about where I have my focus and priorities (God, family and friends, music/art, the opportunity to be nature, etc.)! Those that get the meaning of life (their purpose) can then experience all of God miraculous blessings- such as peace, comfort, bliss for eternity!! The harmony of us ALL having this understanding, and coming back to the meaning of “The SOUL’’ would truly be heaven on earth. In my program, I give the focus and intent of each activity; but when you, yourself, hears and sees from God- note: your focus as long it’s from God is always Good (even if it changes from my own personal perspective)!!! Lastly, I believe in a UNITED EARTH- ONE TRUE GOD, so I try to represent “the East and the West’’ as not being separate- ONE EARTH_ONE TRUE GOD. Where Only God can make us “whole”, we are all humans with the same smiles, tears, sadness, laughter, and neurodifferences. If we ALL focused and found importance in love and healing, this planet would be even more divinely miraculous (focus on emotional reappraisal). Therefore, love is the answer to heaven on earth.
Those that have a learning difference, like myself, have divergent critical thinking and use inductive reasoning which is in opposition to the more common deductive reasoning. I call it, the “synonymous why” that comes natural to those with a neurodifference; it is critically for DIVERGENT THINKERS. It is critical because we understand that there are several possible answers to a problem, crisis, or question which is critical that we are here on earth; our purpose is to help society in this time of trouble [trouble of the universal minds]. Those answers may have not been discovered by scientist YET (convergent thinkers). Let’s stop disparagement because we as a society, could faced with an influx of “futuristic” discoveries and solutions that are “ahead of their time.” Therefore, encourage and inspire those with neurodiversity their natural “why” questioning, perceptions, and generalizations based on the students inductive reasoning, logic-of-evaluation, synthesis of interest based information, and observational research. All that is described above, is this is a gift of innovation and “outside of the box”-DIVERGENT thinking that comes with a neurodifference!!.
RAS= HPA & ACC (body & brain= brainstem) processing side and short-term memory and the arousal of the limbic cortex such as: ACC- amygdala, and the hippocampus. It is where our dreams come into our reality and then onto fruition. Correlated with chakras 6–8th.
The ACC (see top)- is part of RAS (Pineal Gland, Pituitary Gland) associated with the alta major chakra and shame.
HPA (see top)-(Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis) associated with the soma chakra and anger.
Both are associated with the thymus chakra aka vagus nerve chakra.
Functional System Dominance (FSD)- when the RAS & ACC (anger)/HPA (shame) and the brain stem (reptilian brain) regulates our sympathetic (anger) and parasympathetic (shame) systems as it responds to stress: such as when reading. It also acts as a vehicle for sensory information. Note: Students with Sympathetic Functional System Dominance (anger-SFD) have mostly hyper-sensory processing and Parasympathetic Functional System Dominance (shame-PFD) has hypo-sensory processing and Total Functional System Dominance (both anger and shame- TFD) and varied processing. This disequilibrium of the systems can make appropriate learning behavior more or less challenging such as: self-regulation, attention and executive functioning, oppositional and aggressive behavior, anxiety and possibly even depression.
Questionnaire: Further Focus
Before we move onto the next section on how to help yourself and your child. Please ask yourself this question not from your brain, heart but from your mind these questions:
Is s/he frequently irritable?
Does s/he overreact to small problems?
Does s/he have intense, angry outbursts?
Does s/he have outbursts for little or no apparent reason? (specify situations in which outbursts occur)?
Self-regulation: Reinforce self-esteem in class
Independence and self-regulatory behavior are in direct correlation to gaining and keeping one’s self-esteem. In Montessori, we don’t use any outside reinforcement and believe all self-esteem and regulatory behavior needs to be positively internalized. I try to give my students tools and strategies to self-regulate. I don’t use prizes, sticker charts, and such. I ask them, ‘how did it make you feel when you completed such and such all by yourself’. At the same time, I do want them to know that I am proud of them!! This again takes balance!!
I am not a fan of ABA because it shows immediate changes/results in a child’s behavior and actions. It is not long-lasting like self-directed neuroplasticity. To help save their self-esteem, they need to know that they are in control independently as it relates to their actions and behavior by having self-directed neuroplasticity. Going along with Montessori again, I trust the child in their actions and behaviors- I try very hard sometimes in being open to understanding why they chose to do what they do. In turn, I help them to think positively about themselves and their actions which is the biggest self-esteem saver!! [Retrieved from “Montessori Early Childhood Classroom Experience.” Montessori Early Childhood | Montessori Kindergarten Classroom Experience, amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood.]
Dr. Shults (2015) states, “The S in the De-Stress Model has to do with Speculate. And for me, that means, sitting down with the child and speculating with the child, what do you bring to this learning task that’s going to help you be successful? A child might say, I don’t know what you mean by that, and you can say, you know what? When you take things apart, you do a really good job at that. Or when you get in front of people and you do your comedy routine, you’re really great at that. Those are all strengths” Also, “S means success. And success means once you build a foundation for success by reducing stress and building confidence and building competence, success builds upon success. That’s an important part of the model. The final S in the De-Stress Model has to do with strategizing, thinking ahead. You’re saying to the child, now that you know these things, you know what’s going on in the brain, you know the impact of stress on your learning, you’ve been taught strategies to work on these things, take what you’ve learned here and try to apply that to the very next thing that you’re going to be asked to do. You can do it. And you know you can do it. And I hope that this. De-Stress Model helps kids get to that point of success.” [Retrieved from WebAdminKith. “The De-Stress Method to Help Kids Succeed.” Kids in the House, 2 Aug. 2016, www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed.]
What are some ELBERT™ Holistic Alternatives for Self-Regulation?
— — — — — — — — — — Physical Ruled by 2nd chakra — — — — — — — — — —
(suggestion: consciousness begins around age 2 years)
-1st chakra (base) Shame/Empathy
-2nd chakra (sacral) Peace, Bliss and Joy (happiness)- motivation
-3rd chakra (solar plexus) Anger/Strength (can do 1 & 3 together- gaia gate)
Attention and Executive Function:
Is s/he easily distractible; does he act without thinking?
Is s/he restless, not able to sit still; is he overly active?
Does s/he have difficulty initiating or finishing tasks such as homework?
Does s/he have difficulty finding things in his/her room or desk?
Is his/her written work poorly organized, does s/he have difficulty planning ahead?
Does s/he forget to hand in homework?
I have not used red ink in probably 20 years. I literally threw away all my red ink pens!! No joke..I have dyslexia and other learning differences. As a child, It killed me more than any to see my creative writing all marked up with a red pen with a frowny face or test for that matter. One year, I went into an already established and set-up PreK classroom, I threw away all the red pens that I found!!
I use learning conferences instead of marking their work. This way we are a team. They are directed by using rubrics that we make together!! Now, the rubrics are key along with the learning conferences. This way they know my expectations and what I “believe in” them that they may not even know yet that they can accomplish. If they think something is impossible, I will listen and take into consideration and “meet them where they are”.
If they think they can’t do something, then they pretty much can’t because I know, “you create your own reality’. I talk to them about envisioning what they want to see happening in their work and share it with me. This is where goal setting is absolutely key!! During learning conferences, it is so important to revisit those goals and recognize their self-esteem when goals are met then set new goals!! [Retrieved from http://www.moedu-sail.org/lessons/developing-using-learning-rubrics/].
I use learning conferences instead of marking their work. This way we are a team. They are directed by using rubrics that we make together!! Now, the rubrics are key along with the learning conferences. This way they know my expectations and what I “believe in” them that they may not even know yet that they can accomplish. If they think something is impossible, I will listen and take into consideration and “meet them where they are”. If they think they can’t do something, then they pretty much can’t because I know, “you create your own reality’. I talk to them about envisioning what they want to see happening in their work and share it with me. This is where goal setting is absolutely key!! During learning conferences, it is so important to revisit those goals and recognize their self-esteem when goals are met then set new goals!! [Retrieved from, “Setting Goals and Using Rubrics.” Missouri EduSAIL, 29 June 2016, www.moedu-sail.org/lessons/developing-using-learning-rubrics/.]
What are some ELBERT™ Holistic Alternatives for Learning with Attention and Executive Function?
The proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. It provides us with a sense of body awareness and detects/controls force and pressure. The proprioceptive system also has an important regulatory role in sensory processing as proprioceptive input can assist in controlling responses to sensory stimuli. By learning, it’s a developmental OT/PT for dysgraphia.
Lower Personal Self: The Gifts
Concrete Thought (conscious develops around age 2)
- Physical Self (chakras 1–3)
- Vestibular & Somatosensory Senses & Proprioception, Tactile Senses= RAS (body and brain)
- dysgraphia, dysaphsia, cp
God, what’s my (Your) reality? What are my gifts? (physical, emotional rational mind, personal power and will- Ego Center)
Note: “The proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. It provides us with a sense of body awareness and detects/controls force and pressure. The proprioceptive system also has an important regulatory role in sensory processing…” https://link.medium.com/HEg2Ccz8Gcb
Oppositional and Aggressive behavior:
Is your child destructive to toys or other objects?
Does s/he say “no” or refuse to comply when asked to do something?
Does your child regularly argue with you (parents), teachers?
Does s/he tease or bully another child? Has s/he been teased or bullied?
Is s/he aggressive with siblings, peers or adults, e.g., hits or pushes?
Does s/he swear, call names or make threats?
I’m a fan of Dr. Shultz and reading about his work in the IDA Handbook!! Dr. Shultz (2015) puts those with dyslexia on even “playing ground” which will set them up to succeed. “The R in the De-Stress Model means Reduce the threat. That means take the fear out of the environment for the child. If the child, for example, is intimidated by working in a large class filled with 26 or 30 kids, provide some time for small group instruction. However, if a child is stressed by being in a small group because all the attention is focused on him, then think about that when you create the space in which learning is supposed to occur. “
He also talks about, “The T in the De-Stress Model means to Teach the child the skills that she needs to be successful. We’ve talked about looking at her strengths and her weaknesses. But unless she has tools she can use consistently and regularly that are going to allow her to be successful, she won’t’ be, it’s random. So if there’s a particular method of reading instruction or math instruction or social skills interaction that you know from experience will be helpful for this child, teach her how to do those kinds of things. Let her rehearse those kinds of things in a safe environment. Don’t put her on stage without any preparation. Otherwise, she’ll experience yet again another failure. We don’t want to have that happen.” [Retrieved from Zerfas, Kimberly, and Tamara Sheesley Balis. “Montessori Mastery: A Learning Process for Life.” Greenspring Montessori School, 8 Feb. 2019, greenspringmontessori.org/montessori-mastery-a-learning-process-for-life/.]
I “follow the child” in my lessons and informal observations dictate what they learn. Likewise, my instruction is systematic, direct, and sequential in manner. I work on levels with 90% mastery!! They can only move on when ready, not based on where others would consider them to be or need to be. Lastly, I personally pair them with students who will mentor and uplift them. I carefully set up my small and individual pairs for collaborative work. They can grow in connection with these other students because again the careful pairing will set them up for success.
https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed; https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf https://greenspringmontessori.org/montessori-mastery-a-learning-process-for-life/; https://www.dyslexia-and-literacy.international/ONL/EN/Course/S1-1.htm & https://www.dyslexia-and-literacy.international/ONL/EN/Course/S3-1.htm
What are some ELBERT™ Holistic Alternatives for Learning with Oppositional and Aggressive Behavior?
— — — — — — — — — Mental Ruled by 8th chakra (RAS) — — — — — — — — — —
(suggestion: starts to develop around age 7, big jump age 12+)
-4th chakra (heart) Hatred/Courage
-5th chakra (throat) Grief/Compassion (can do 4 & 5 together-earth star)
Do you think your child worries more than other children?
What does s/he worry about?
Does s/he ever have problems falling asleep because she is worrying about something, can’t turn his/her mind off?
Does your child have many fears?
Is s/he easily scared?
Can s/he be easily comforted by reassurance?
In my mind, a child who is coached by an adult to be their own advocate- won’t care what others think of them and do what’s best for their own learning. As Dr. Shultz (2015) reminds us to educate them on dyslexia and being their own advocate by telling us about: “The E in the De-Stress Model means to Education. And by that, I mean to educate the child about his or her condition. Until the child understands that she has a learning disability or ADHD and it’s having this or that impact on learning, you don’t engage the child in his own self-care. And that’s a problem. Otherwise, it’s adults doing things to kids, for kids, about kids. I think we’re missing the boat because we don’t educate kids well enough. They don’t advocate well for themselves. They don’t get it. They just think there are a lot of adults hanging around them making them do stuff that’s too hard for them. Once they get it, it’s wonderful. It’s a great thing to see.” [Retrieved from WebAdminKith. “The De-Stress Method to Help Kids Succeed.” Kids in the House, 2 Aug. 2016, www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed.]
Personally, I talk to my students about being their own advocate and educate them on their capabilities and their own brain. They learn to speak out because they know that their thinking is unique and just as important as anyone else’s viewpoint/ideas. I actually write in my evaluation that the students and their parents give and encourage them opportunities to develop agency for something that they believe in whether it be animal rights, racial injustice, disability rights, advocacy, and dyslexia awareness/education!!
Lastly, I give them tools and strategies such as “thinking maps” because it’s not their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that are so much shamed by others but the way in our disorganized communication that gets others to shame us. The thinking maps are done visually in their heads that help them to organize their own thoughts, beliefs, and ideas in an analytical way for others to understand better!!
Other Resources: https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed; https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf; https://amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood
What are some ELBERT™ Holistic Alternatives for Learning with Anxiety?
— — — — — — — — — Emotional (mind and cellular level) Ruled by 8th chakra (RAS)
-6th chakra (third eye) Grace (freedoms-abundance, devotion)
-7th chakra (cosmic) Mercy (forgiveness-release fear/unconditional love)
-8th chakra (crown) “high heart-mind=soul chakra”- Glory-gratitude/Victory-harmony (Includes the vagus nerve (thymus), in turn includes alta major and soma chakras
What is your child’s mood like most of the time?
Is s/he often unhappy, sad or tearful?
Does your child’s mood change abruptly for no apparent reason?
Have you noticed a change in his/her interest in things s/he used to enjoy?
Have you noticed a change in his/her energy or activity level?
Is s/he more quiet than usual?
Have you noticed a change in his/her sleep patterns or appetite?
First, being a Montessorian, Maria’s philosophy is all about facilitating the child’s learning. This means that you trust and respect the child. I think they may know more than myself and I’m in their service. I serve the child not in the mindset that because I’m the adult that I necessarily know more- BUT, I do have them feel safe, secure, and happy at the same time. This takes a balance and an uncanny open-mindedness!!
Secondly, in the Montessori philosophy, there is a cycle of activity. “This cycle respects individual variations in the learning process facilitates the development of coordination, concentration, independence, and a sense of order while facilitating your child’s assimilation of information.” [Retrieved from “Montessori Early Childhood Classroom Experience.” Montessori Early Childhood | Montessori Kindergarten Classroom Experience, amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood.]
Third, I ‘help’ them to give correct answers by not saying, ‘no or that’s not right’ when referring to an answer to a question. In my classes, the students are also safe and secure amongst their peers because I never discourage any thought, belief, and idea. If I have questions about it, I will ask to have them think. In turn, It usually persuades me to rethink my own thoughts, beliefs, and ideas!!! Love my kids and their “outside-of-the-box thinking”! On the other hand, I can take their answer and work with their answer by assimilating what I know that they have in their background knowledge and experience to the new skill, the content of the question that I’m presenting to them.
What are some ELBERT™ Holistic Alternatives for Learning with Depression?
The Senses Lower Personal Self: The Dreams
Abstract Thought (spiritual conscious begins develops around age 7, makes a jump at 12)
- Mental Self (chakras 4–6, cognitive brain)
- Visual, Auditory Senses= Pons (body & mind)
- dyslexia, higher functioning autism
Lower Personal Self:The Wishes
God, what are my (Your) dreams? What are my gifts? (creativity, visionary, aspiration, wisdom- Dream Center)
- Social/Emotional Self (chakras 6–8, soul mind)
- Olfactory & Gustatory Senses= Thymus (high heart & mind)
- all learning difficulties
God, what’s my (Your) purpose? What are my wishes? (Higher Purpose & Will- Acceptance of Christ Center and His Will & Purpose)
“Varied is, of course, Total Functional System Dominance (TFSD) which is most varied in hormones and the hardest time being calm with mood swings along gaining equanimity also can be diagnosed congenital adrenal https://link.medium.com/HEg2Ccz8Gcb
Questions Provided By The Research Autism Group or online [Retrieved from https://researchautism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/An_Educators_Guide_to_Asperger_Syndrome.pd]
“Montessori Early Childhood Classroom Experience.” Montessori Early Childhood | Montessori Kindergarten Classroom Experience, amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Early-Childhood.
Ourangelsguidance. “THE 12 CHAKRA SYSTEM AND TWINFLAME PROCESS.” Our Angels Guidance, 13 Nov. 2016, ourangelsguidanceblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/13/the-12-chakra-system-and-twinflame-process/.Petty, Peter G. “Consciousness.” Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, vol. 3, no. 4, 1996, p. 390., doi:10.1016/s0967–5868(96)90040–5.
WebAdminKith. “The De-Stress Method to Help Kids Succeed.” Kids in the House, 2 Aug. 2016, www.kidsinthehouse.com/special-needs/learning-disabilities/the-de-stress-method-to-help-kids-succeed.
Zerfas, Kimberly, and Tamara Sheesley Balis. “Montessori Mastery: A Learning Process for Life.” Greenspring Montessori School, 8 Feb. 2019, greenspringmontessori.org/montessori-mastery-a-learning-process-for-life/.
Disclaimer: These checklists and questionnaires are not to be substituted for professional Medical advice. These are the opinions of Tricia Cook and should not be used to diagnose or prescribe. Tricia is not a doctor.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7 (KJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 (KJV)
“…that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ;…” Philippians 1:10 ERV
Affirmation of Hope: I am pure and blameless. I have Christ.
To Learn more on how to help go here (Universal Emotions of a Learning Difference): https://lookingtohealourownlearningdifference.org/2020/10/08/universal-emotions-looking-into-the-emotions-of-learning/; http://lookingtohealourownlearningdifference.org/2020/12/10/dyslexia-help-understanding-universal-emotions-further/; http://lookingtohealourownlearningdifference.org/2020/12/10/dyslexia-help-understanding-universal-emotions-of-learning-a-step-further-cook-t-2020/