Signs That Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability

September 23, 2016

learn3A learning disability is a problem that affects how a person receives and processes information and has nothing to do with how smart a person is. Between 8 and 10 percent of children under age 18 in the U.S. may have some type of learning disability.

A person with a learning disability may see, hear, or understand things differently, which causes difficulty with things such as reading, writing, mathematics or understanding directions. It’s important to note that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders are not the same as learning disabilities.

Some typical learning disabilities include:

Dyslexia, probably the most well-known and common learning disability. Dyslexia affects how someone processes language, making reading and writing difficult, among other things

Dyspraxia, which affects a person’s motor skills

Dysgraphia, which can result in poor handwriting, trouble spelling and difficulty putting thoughts onto paper

Dyscalculia, which affects a person’s ability to do math including recognizing numbers, counting, solving math problems and memorizing multiplication tables

Auditory processing disorder which affects the ability to read, follow spoken directions and remember things a person has heard

Visual processing disorder, which makes it hard to read or tell the difference between two objects that look similar and is often accompanied by poor hand-eye coordination

What to look for if you suspect your child has a learning disability:

  • Lack of enthusiasm for reading or writing
  • Trouble memorizing things
  • Working at a slow pace
  • Trouble following directions
  • Trouble staying focused on a task
  • Difficulty understanding abstract ideas
  • Lack of attention to detail, or too much attention to detail
  • Poor social skills
  • Disruptiveness

If you think your child may have learning difficulties, start by talking to your pediatrician or teacher about having your child evaluated.

With the right tools, people with learning disabilities can overcome any challenge. Optiminds professionals can help you determine if your child has a learning disability. We’ll design a customized program to help improve your child’s cognitive skills for success in studying, reading, math and more. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Healthy Foods for Young Brains

September 16, 2016

brain1The human brain is hungry for more than just information. The brain is the first organ to absorb nutrient from the food we eat. So choose wisely what nutrients you are feeding your children if you want to boost their brain function, concentration and memory.

Following are some great choices for “brain foods” including the nutrients they contain for optimum brain performance:

Fatty fish, especially salmon—lean protein, high in omega-fatty acids DHA and EPA essential for brain growth and function

Eggs—good source of protein and also choline, which helps memory development

Peanut butter—contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects nervous membranes; and thiamin to help the brain and nervous system convert glucose to energy

Whole grains—they provide a constant supply of glucose thanks to the fiber they contain. They are also a good source for B-vitamins which nourish the nervous system.

Oats—This energy-packed “grain for the brain” contains vitamin E, B-vitamins, potassium and zinc

Berries—a great source for antioxidants, especially vitamin C

Beans—In addition to providing energy from protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, beans include lots of vitamins and minerals.

Colorful vegetables–Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach are packed with antioxidants that keep brain cells strong and healthy.

Milk and yogurt—The protein and B-vitamins in dairy foods promote the growth of brain tissue, neurotransmitters, and enzymes.

Lean beef (or a meat alternative)—Lean beef is one of the best absorbed sources of iron and also contains zinc, which helps with memory. For non-meat eaters, black bean and soy burgers are iron-rich alternatives, especially when accompanied by foods with vitamin C, which helps iron get absorbed.

If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Age-related Memory Loss Is Quite Normal

September 6, 2016

forget5Memory is the ability to normally recall the facts and events of our lives.

Memory takes place in three stages:

  • Encoding—when we take in information
  • Consolidation—when the brain takes the information it encodes and processes it so that it gets stored in certain areas of the brain
  • Retrieval—when we recall information that has been stored in the brain

Time is the memory’s worst enemy. Shortly after we take in information, memory traces start to deteriorate, followed by different rates of forgetting depending on factors such as the nature of the material, how important it is for the person, their stress level, etc.

Other reasons for memory loss, most of which are reversible, include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Metabolic diseases such as thyroid gland diseases, diabetes, and lung, liver, or kidney failure
  • Alcoholism
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Infections
  • Drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter

While memory loss can happen even before we hit our 50s, research shows that up to half of people over age 50 have mild forgetfulness linked to age-associated memory impairment. Signs of age-related forgetfulness include:

  • Forgetting parts of an experience
  • Forgetting where you park the car
  • Forgetting events from the distant past
  • Forgetting a person’s name, but remembering it later

If you are concerned that your memory loss is more than just age-related, here are some things to look for that might signal more serious memory conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Forgetting an experience
  • Forgetting how to drive a car or read a clock
  • Forgetting recent events
  • Forgetting ever having known a particular person
  • Loss of function, confusion, or decreasing alertness
  • Symptoms become more frequent or severe

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about memory loss. If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, give us a call at Optiminds. We have earned a reputation for helping adults and baby boomers improve cognitive skills and memory. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Interesting Facts About the Human Brain

August 23, 2016

bulbThe average human brain weighs about 3.3 pounds and represents three percent of the body’s weight. The human brain is the largest brain of all vertebrates, more than three times as big as the brain of other mammals that are of similar body size.

The largest portion of the brain is the cerebrum, which is divided into two hemispheres and performs all of the higher cognitive functions. The outermost layer of the cerebrum is the cerebral cortex, which consists of four lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe and the occipital lobe.

Underneath the cerebrum lies the brainstem which is dedicated to involuntary functions such as breathing. Behind the brain stem is the cerebellum which controls motor functions such as coordination of movement and balance.

The brain contains about 100 billion microscopic cells called neurons—so many it would take over 3,000 years to count them all. While a single neuron generates only a tiny amount of electricity, all of the neurons together can generate enough electricity to power a low-wattage bulb.

The brain is protected by the skull (cranium), a protective casing made up of 22 bones that are joined together.

The brain uses 20 percent of the body’s energy, most of it to power the rapid firing of millions of neurons communicating with each other. Scientists believe that this firing and connecting of neurons is what gives rise to all of the brain’s higher functions. The rest of the energy is used to control other activities—both unconscious activities, such as heart rate, and conscious ones, such as driving a car.

Evidence shows that throughout the course of a day, we use 100 percent of our brains. All of the brain’s regions are not concurrently firing at any given moment, but most of them are continually active over a 24-hour period.

At Optiminds, we love to work with your brain. If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Right Brain Versus Left Brain: Fact or Myth?

August 6, 2016

brainYou’ve probably heard of the popular theory that ascribes different functions to the left and right hemispheres of the human brain. It suggests that left-dominant thinkers tend to be problem-solvers with right-hand control are more analytical and logical, while right-dominant thinkers with left-hand control are artistic, creative and intuitive.

Well according to a number of studies, the evidence is just not there to support that individuals tend to have stronger left- or right-sided brain networks.

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that an injury to one side of the brain often caused a loss of specific abilities. For example, spatial abilities seemed to reside in the right side of the brain, with language in the left. In the 1960s, Roger W. Sperry, a Nobel laureate neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology and the renowned cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga discovered that the two halves of the brain act like independent entities, with contrasting processing styles. These findings were adapted by pop culture for books and quizzes and led to the thinking that different characteristics could be attributed to the two different hemispheres.

But recent brain scan technology has revealed that the hemispheres’ roles are not quite so cut-and-dried as once thought. The two hemispheres are in fact highly complementary. Humans actually use both hemispheres of the brain for all cognitive functions. For example, language processing, once believed to be left- hemisphere-only, is now understood to take place in both hemispheres: the left side processes grammar and pronunciation while the right processes intonation.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Suggestions for Enhancing Brain Health

July 23, 2016

dementia1As baby boomers age, researchers around the world continue to search for keys to preventing and reducing the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and improving memory loss.

Doctors and scientists are finding that there’s no one explanation or answer to protect our brains as we age, and that the best we can do is to follow multiple steps to lower risk. Here are some basic recommendations:

  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol with diet, exercise and (if necessary) medication
  • Maintain a healthy blood sugar level
  • Lose or don’t gain excess weight
  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day
  • Follow a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet
  • Stay mentally and socially active
  • Get your hearing checked
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Get enough vitamin D

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is designed to lower blood pressure, which may in turn protect the brain’s blood vessels. The basic DASH diet recommends the following:

  • Vegetables and fruit (11 servings)
  • Grains (4)
  • Low-fat dairy (2)
  • Legumes and nuts (2)
  • Poultry, fish and lean meat (1)
  • Oils and fats (2)
  • Desserts and sweets (2)
  • Wild card—poultry, meat, fish or oils and fats or grains or desserts and sweets (1)

In addition to these recommendations, why not explore an Optiminds training program? Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Reading Tips for Children with ADHD

July 22, 2016

ADHD3If your child has ADHD, paying attention for long periods of time can be a challenge. There are some things you can try to make reading a fun activity for you and your child.

  • Choose a quiet spot to sit down and read with your child–away from TV, radio, and video game noise.
  • Choose books that interest your child, such as books on animals or sports and let your child be part of choosing books to read.
  • If your child is already reading, encourage them to read with you and praise their efforts.
  • Read for short periods at a time. Start with just a few minutes and build up to longer periods. Put the book away if your child loses interest. Pick up the book later and read for another short time period.
  • Break up short periods of reading time with play time to give small children a chance to move around. If your child squirms, continue reading for a few minutes because your child may still be listening to the story even though he is moving around.
  • Reading time can help a highly energetic child gear down for naps and bedtime. Reading together for 10 minutes in the morning is a nice way to get the day started on a positive note.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages, including children with learning disorders. Give us a call today at (248) 496-0150 and learn more about us by visiting: optimindsct.com.

Practical Tips for College-bound Students

July 16, 2016

collegeYou’re starting college this Fall. It’s one of the most exciting times of life, but it can also be overwhelming with a totally new environment and a new routine, a load of classes and mountains of homework.

Having little or no time leads to stress and that will dramatically affect your ability to process what you learned in class. Unless you learn how to overcome these obstacles, you will have difficulty in college which only compounds your problem.

Right now is a good time to check out Optiminds’ Brain Fitness programs. Our proven techniques help students take brain performance to new levels, overcome learning struggles, reduce stress and retain valuable information which will help you be successful in your college career.

Optiminds is a skill-based program individually customized to your needs and designed to stimulate targeted areas of your brain. The typical program includes mental exercises, visualization techniques, computerized drills and recommendations on diet and physical exercise.

Optiminds training focuses on:

  • Study skills
  • Memory retention
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Stress management
  • Speed reading
  • Academic coaching

The benefits of Optiminds training include:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Feeling more in control of your schedule
  • Less negative self-talk
  • Feeling less distracted
  • Being better organized
  • Better problem-solving skills
  • Better memory skills

Here’s what some of our clients have to say about their Optiminds’ experience:

“My college grades improved, and I actually remember what I studied.”

“I was about to flunk out of law school, when I found Dr. Jane. I graduated and passed the bar exam. Thanks OPTIMINDS!”

“I’ve learned how to overcome stress and being overwhelmed. Now I have time to have fun with my friends!”

“I got a full ride to medical school after Optiminds helped me raise my MCAT score.”

Summer is a great time to get a head start on your college experience. Give Optiminds a call today at (248) 496-0150 and learn more about us by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Optiminds Bridge Camp For Kids of All Ages

July 6, 2016

youngbridge3The American pastime of playing bridge has declined since its peak in the 1930s and 1940s, but it is still played by millions of people today, including bridge fanatics Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Optiminds is excited to offer our new Bridge Camp for kids of all ages! Why bridge? Studies are showing that playing bridge may yield cognitive benefits for people of all ages.

For older people, bridge offers intellectual and social stimulation on a routine basis. A study in 2000 at the University of California, Berkeley, found strong evidence that an area in the brain used in playing bridge stimulates the immune system. Researchers suggest that is because players must use memory, visualization and sequencing.

Last year, the Alzheimer’s Association shared the results of a large-scale clinical trial in Finland that demonstrated the benefits of combining cognitive training and social activity— two of bridge’s chief benefits—with other lifestyle elements. The idea is that multiple changes in lifestyle can improve memory and thinking in those at risk for cognitive decline.

Researcher Dr. Christopher Shaw has found that bridge playing benefits younger players as well. He found that students who learned to play bridge had a significant increase in their ITSB (Iowa Tests of Basic Skills) scores compared with their non-playing classmates

Results of an experiment conducted by biologist Marian Diamond show that contract bridge players have increased numbers of immune cells after a game of bridge, suggesting “strong evidence that an area of the brain involved in playing bridge stimulates the immune system, in particular the thymus gland that produces white blood cells called T cells, or T lymphocytes.”

Here are more of the benefits bridge playing offers:

  • Improves cognitive functions while enjoying playing a classic card game
  • Uses your brain power while having fun and socializing with others
  • Helps you think strategically
  • Helps you fine-tune critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Teaches you a skill you can use throughout your life
  • Provides an inexpensive form of entertainment

So sign up today for the Optiminds Bridge Camp. Lessons take place from 5:00 to 8:00 pm Monday through Thursday at our Southfield location. The fee for Optiminds bridge lessons is $100 for 10 lessons for four people. For more information, please call or email Jane Stewart, Ph.D. at (248) 496-0150 or jstewart@optimindsct.com. To learn about Optiminds, visit us at: optimindsct.com

Just think—you can be the first to start the next new trend. You can even start a team and compete against family members and friends!

Tips for Success As a Student Athlete

June 23, 2016

study3Student athletes are challenged with the twin demands of athletic competition and heightened academic expectations. Following are some tips for heading off issues and managing what at times can seem like an overwhelming schedule.

1. Learn how to effectively communicate with your teachers. Most teachers will be happy to provide help and support, but you need to effectively communicate with them to let them know when you might need to miss class to be at a game, how you will get the notes from class and when you will make up the work. Keep them posted in person, by email or through a letter from the athletic department.

2. Apply the same principles of preparation for your sport to your classes. Come ready to compete. Read, read, read. It will pay off in the end with heightened focus and broader knowledge that will help you stay fit in the classroom.

3. Be on time and be prepared, whether it’s for practice, class, or study hall. If you are perceived as responsible and reliable from the start, when you are late or you do make a mistake, people will be more likely to cut you some slack when it’s justified.

4. Stick to a daily routine to keep your work, practice and social life in order. To-do lists are a great way to keep all the things you have to do in order and so you can prioritize which things need to be accomplished first.

5. Make an effort to cultivate friends outside your small circle of teammates and coaches.

6. As a student athlete, you are the face of your school and your actions reflect on your institution and your sport, both positively and negatively. Make good decisions, especially when it comes to alcohol and drugs. It’s not just about you anymore; you are part of a greater whole.

7. Plan for life. Cultivate a network and resources of teachers and references you can draw on when it’s time to apply for employment. As an athlete, you have demonstrated that you are goal oriented, work well in teams, communicate, and are organized and disciplined.

8. Get to know your coaches. Part of their job is to mentor their athletes. Let them know if you are struggling with something. Draw on their experience about your sport and about what it’s like to be a student-athlete.

9. Establish good relationships with your teammates. If you love your teammates and encourage them everyday they will do the same for you. A team that loves and plays together wins.

10. Give it your all, every single day. Whether you had an awful day or not, when you step onto the field, you are there to play. After college most student-athletes will never play at the same competitive level again, so you have four years to give it your all, play with no regrets and be the best player you can be.

Optiminds’ college counseling division offers special programs for the dedicated student athlete to help them get into college, conquer their sport and be a success on the field and in the classroom. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.


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