How summer programs can help kids with learning disabilities

Clinical neurologist Jerome Schultz, PhD, discusses how summer programs can help kids with learning disabilities by providing academic support during months without school.
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How summer programs can help kids with learning disabilities

Some parents want to know if a summer program would be helpful for their students with learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or some other special need. The real question is whether or not the summer results in what I would call discontinuous learning. The school ends in June, and then there are 2-3 months in the summer where all of the material, all of the information, all of the gains that were made in the previous year just go right out the window. Some students can maintain the gains they've made over the academic year throughout the summer. They can have a good time. They can go to camp. They can play. They can do whatever they do. And they can start out school on a strong footing. Other kids lose the gains or might lose the gains they've made in the previous year. It's like going to the gym. If you walk away from the gym for 3 months and you don't exercise, your muscles get flabby. The same thing happens with kids, especially if they have difficulty remembering things that they've learned. These kids need to practice. It's like music lessons, too. You learn how to play piano. You don't play for 3 months, and then your skills get rusty. It happens to all kids. But if you have a learning disability or a problem with attention, it may be harder for you to retain those kinds of things, so it's important to keep the momentum going. That doesn't need to be in a specialized summer program necessarily. But there has to be practice. If you're learning how to play piano, go get a gig somewhere and play over the summer. Then you'll retain your skills. The same thing is true with kids. Kids with reading difficulties have to read, or they have to be read to. That's probably the simplest way to put this. Kids with reading disabilities that are losing their skills over the summer, and we've got a track record that shows that that happens, those kids may need an intensive specialized programs for 12 months of the year. That's not a usual provision in most education plans. But for some kids it's a really important one.

Clinical neurologist Jerome Schultz, PhD, discusses how summer programs can help kids with learning disabilities by providing academic support during months without school.


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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.


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