The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Wiring affects brain, counselor says

By Adam Young/reporter

Each person is a unique individual, a NE counselor reminded students last week.

In an April 14 presentation on learning disorders, Anita Peters said fingerprints, facial construction and information processing are all examples of individualization.

“No two people are going to be exactly alike biochemically or the way we are hardwired and the way we process information, she said.”

Some people have disorders pronounced enough they interfere with daily activities. These individuals are described as having attention disorders or learning disabilities. Peters said people with learning disabilities usually have many favorable traits, including being bright, resourceful, intelligent and creative.

Peters said not all individuals who have trouble with their attention span have a learning disorder.

“If you are in a class of 30 students, you easily are going to have at least four students in all likelihood who have a learning disability,” she said. “So with our campus of 14,000, means that 2,000 of our students also could be impacted.”

Of course, Peters said, only a medically trained professional can successfully diagnose and determine if an individual has a true learning disorder. These disorders are a neurological syndrome that is genetically linked.

Peters said learning disorders are not a lack of intelligence, lack of will power, laziness or a defiant behavior.

“Attention disorders basically are characterized by distractibility, restlessness, impulsiveness, but not all three of those need to be present,” she said. 

These traits seem to produce daydreaming, focusing on the wrong subject and constantly moving, Peters said.

Attention disorders fall into three types: daydreamer or primary inattentive, inattentive with some hyperactivity (or combined) and primarily hyperactive impulsive.

The daydreamer usually exhibits symptoms such as difficulty organizing, difficulty listening, forgetfulness, difficulty maintaining attention, tardiness and procrastination. The combined type usually is restless, has difficulty sitting still or doing activities quietly and is prone to temper outburst.

Individuals in the third category usually are impulsive, have trouble waiting for their turn, are impatient to give answers and often interrupt the teacher or speaker.

Attention-related disorders also must be diagnosed by a medical professional. The most important part of a learning disability is how a person processes information. Peters said a learning disorder is not mental retardation or a result of cultural differences, but are mainly because of hard wiring and a chemical imbalance.

LDs “can affect academic, occupational, social and family life,” she said.

People with learning disorders also may have a tendency toward underachieving and a low performance and finally realize that LDs do not go away.

These individuals usually blame themselves, get frustrated easily and have difficulty transferring knowledge from one area to the other. Prolonged and undiagnosed LDs can produce depression, anxiety, role confusion and personal conflicts.

“They [people with LDs] feel defective, and they feel somehow less than and no one understands why they can’t get it,” she said.

Learning disorders also are classified into three types: mathematic disorder, written expression and reading disorder.

“We are simply hard wired differently, not wrong,” she said. “Part of our brain is wired differently, not wrong, anymore than a thumbprint.”

How far can an individual go with a learning disorder? “If you process information differently than whatever is within reason, our [counselor’s] job is trying help you level the playing field as much as doable.”

Many famous people such as Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison all had learning disorders but were able to overcome their disability and prosper in their professional lives.

“The longer I work in this field, the more I respect there are so many factors that impact the way we interact and respond to the world.”

By educating people about LDs and encouraging those who should be tested to seek help, Peters said perhaps individuals with LDs can prosper.

She keeps a whiteboard in her office as a reminder and encouragement to those suffering with ADs and LDs. It reads “Different = Different not better than, not worse than, just different.”

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