While debate continues on the pro's and con's of the well publicized "No child left behind Act", a small, privately funded Center for Children has maintained a quiet, unwritten policy that no child will ever be left behind or turned away because of a family's inability to afford tuition.
For the past five years the Neuro-Linguistic Learning Center in El Dorado Hills has been helping children, teens and adults overcome the effects of ADHD, Autism and other learning disabilities. While the profound successes of their students have been well documented, their quiet policy of never turning a child away solely for financial reasons has remained an important part of their commitment to the Sacramento Community and to the children and families they serve.
"Says Gerald Hughes, Director of the NLC, "As the parent of several children who previously struggled with learning challenges, I feel I have a profound appreciation for the importance of the work we do. If a family is committed to getting help or their child, we will do everything we can to assist them--regardless of their financial situation."
Gerald takes emphatic exception to the word, 'disability' and he refers to his clients as 'our children'. Some of the challenges the children who come to the NLC include reading, writing, spelling, math, focus and attention, memorization, test-preparation, anxiety, lack of motivation, and even low self-esteem. Their diagnoses may include Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Sensory Integration Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, compulsive behaviors, and oppositional defiance.
According to Dr. Wishnatsky, an Educational Psychologist who serves the Sacramento area, as few as 20% of our children are truly succeeding in our schools today. She estimates that as many as 60% of children are struggling in one or more areas and as many as 20% are completely failing. It also appears that the number of children failing is increasing.
Research also shows that that, as struggles with education increase for these children, so do negative behaviors and social problems. Claudia Lowe, a Child Advocate says that many of these children will wind up on the 'detention-suspension-expulsion track'. This means that they first begin receiving detentions for either negative behavior or academic performance issues.
As problems mount and their frustration with the system increases, behavior problems escalate and detentions turn into suspensions. Finally, the conflicts and offenses escalate to the point where the school feels justified in expelling them from the system.
With teacher's salaries and school funding now being tied to children's grades, the pressure on any child under-performing is bound to increase. At this point, we can only guess at the long term consequences of this increased pressure, but we do know that academic performance is the key to a child's attitude and ultimate success both in and out of the classroom.
For their part, the Neuro-Linguistic Learning Center offers scholarships for children and teens as well as a wide variety of programming and tuition options to assist families. "As long as we're here and there is room in our schedule", says Gerald, "we will help as many children as we can."
The Neuro-Linguistic Learning Center is located in El Dorado Hills, just 30 minutes from downtown Sacramento. Parents and their children come from as far away as Elk Grove, the Bay Area, Tahoe, and even Truckee, to get their children the help they need.
In these times of budget cuts, downsizing and mandatory furloughs, it is gratifying that as least one company is putting the needs of children first.
Jennifer Means and Gerald Hughes are co-authors of the book, 'Gifted--Not Broken, Overcoming the effects of Dyslexia, ADHD and Other Learning Challenges. Gerald is Director of the Neuro-Linguistic Learning Center in El Dorado Hills, California