Here are excerpts from some of the calls for help we've received. Can you relate to any of these?

From a parent, "my child is not doing well in school. I am so worried - it's affecting school work and self-confidence. Please help with homework!"

From an adult, "I have struggled all my life. I know I can do better at my job, but I keep making the same mistakes. I know I can do the work. Could I have a learning or attention problem? If so, what do I do about it?"

From a school counselor, "I am helping a family where the parents and children have a learning and attention problem. What can I do to help them structure their home and attend properly to the children?"

From a teacher, "A student in my classroom is a puzzle. Would you come observe?" From a therapist, "My client has a history of emotional problems, and while they are stable now, there is something else going on. Please help me sort this out."

From a physician, "My patient needs something more than medication. Will you teach organization skills?" From a family advocate, "I am working with a single parent family and two children have ADHD. They are being treated and are doing well. I suspect the mother has undiagnosed learning or attention problems and if she doesn't get help, she cannot take care of her children. Can you help me help this family?"

From a high school or college learning support center, "Please evaluate this student to see whether she has a learning disability. If she does, she is eligible for accommodations and support to complete her coursework."

From a parent group, "Most of the parents in our group feel stressed. Please organize a workshop to help us manage stress associated with parenting."

We offer psychological and educational testing, consultation to families, schools and agencies, and individual and group coaching programs. Our innovative coaching model has received national recognition, and unique group programs provide structured learning, socialization and enrichment opportunities to children and adults in a therapeutic milieu.

Many come to Bridges Associates, Inc. because they have struggled to make academic progress or experience social or emotional success. They may have an identified learning difference, or they may not know what is wrong.

Understanding the problem is sometimes the most difficult and baffling task. Current observations or diagnoses may conflict with previous results. Sometimes the family, student and others see things differently. There may be a complicated interplay of learning, developmental, family or behavioral issues. Before a treatment plan can be pursued, there must be ample opportunity to pose all the questions that linger and to consider the various responses. There is seldom a one-to-one relationship between an identified challenge and a successful plan. It is not that simple. Various books, schools, program and methods may address the same or similar problems.

A focused interview with the student helps to clarify his or her perspective and develop a realistic plan. For school aged clients, an observation of a student in the educational setting and consultation with teachers often illuminate the challenge and possible solutions. A meeting at the school with the parents and educators may help identify any current obstacles and move the educational planning process forward. Family involvement, collaboration and coordinated care are central to the work. Bridging the Gap means working with others involved.

Individuals with learning differences or disabilities, and their families, often require support over time, and the needs change over time. It is the professional's responsibility to understand, respect and respond to the student and family need. Exploring earlier "resistance" to educational intervention or therapeutic treatment is part of the consultation process. By knowing how to talk with or relate to individuals with multisensory, creative, verbal and nonverbal approaches, we are often able to elicit information not available through testing or other standardized evaluation procedures.

It is one thing to understand the student's challenges; we agree that it is essential to understand the student's perception and experience in order to discover viable solutions. Interviewing through the student's modality helps the team identify and describe the challenge. A focused interview with the student and family, and collection of information observed by family, educators or therapists clarifies the challenge from the student's perspective to then develop a realistic plan. An observation of a student in the educational setting, and a consultation with teachers often illuminates the challenge and possible solutions. A meeting at the school with the parents and educators may help clarify any current obstacles and move the educational planning process forward.

The best educational plans come after careful description of the challenges and identification of the array of options available. The actual implementation of an educational plan requires concurrence. In some cases, the school benefits from input from an outsider regarding new approaches to an old problem. In other situations, the family feels reassured by the outside consultant. For some students and families, ongoing communication among family, school and consultant helps resolve conflicts and revise the plan as needed. The consultant is knowledgeable of the laws, rights and entitlements to generate momentum towards and ultimately to secure what is best for the student. With good understanding of the educational challenge, description of the educational options and efficient implementation of the program, the team can develop an Educational Plan that truly provides the best educational opportunity for the student.

Developed for individuals with differences in learning and attention, individual or group coaching offers the support of a relationship and provides help as the person learns and processes information. This is a multisensory method integrating family systems and learning disabilities strategies, utilizing a variety of creative materials and activities to facilitate the development of self-awareness, and regulation of thinking, feeling, communication and action skills. The process helps people to take charge of their lives. Take Charge!™ learning and enrichment groups provide an opportunity for students to learn project planning, develop routines for homework, or socialize and make friends in a caring and accommodating environment without humiliating or stigmatizing any student.

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