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Learning & Sensory Processing: Insights from Marlo Payne

Marlo Payne Thurman, M.S., nationally recognized educational consultant, is well known for her work in both public and private schools, and has served in a variety of learning and mental health centers. She founded the Brideun Learning Communities and The Center for Education Enrichment, a private educational consulting company specializing in meeting the needs of out-of-sync learner and Twice Exceptional children (gifted with learning disabilities). The mother of two, she works primarily with children known to have a higher Intelligence Quotient or IQ. She is based in Lafayette, CO.

Cara Lindell, Kinetic Konnections’ founder, met with Marlo Payne Thurman earlier this year after an introduction by a mutual client. Cara found Marlo’s integrated approach to understanding a child refreshing. Marlo determines how children best functions; how they are successful as opposed to focusing on what is broken or deficient. Marlo integrates several paradigms used in mental health to formulate her unique assessment approach for children struggling with learning. Marlo’s experiences, along with numerous studies and experiences of colleagues indicate that the brain’s ability to process and filter sensory information (visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive, etc.) impacts the ability of a child to learn. When the brain and body work harder to filter the sensory information the child is unable to concentrate on the task at hand such as reading or being attentive.

One reason a child’s sensory processing system may be dysfunctional is that the body’s neuromuscular system is not properly aligned, which is something that is often overlooked. Marlo emphasizes that body alignment may only be one key to the puzzle. “Every child needs a comprehensive assessment. Based on that assessment, you will find your starting point or points.” she said.

Parents often bring their children to Kinetic Konnections seeking to address learning challenges. Kinetic Konnections quickly builds key brain-body connections to effect lasting changes in neuromuscular pathways enabling sensory efficiencies. If the brain doesn’t have to work as hard to coordinate the muscular system, then there is more energy for processing cognitive information. As a result, many children that have worked with Kinetic Konnections experience significant improvements in school work, behavior, social interactions and extracurricular activities.
Marlo suggests a few steps parents and educators can take if a child exhibits traits of a sensory processing dysfunction.

Evaluate Sensory Processing: First rule out a sensory integration disorder by seeing a occupational therapist (OTR/L) for an evaluation. Make sure the occupational therapist specializes in pediatrics.

Assess Cognitive Factors: Determine other factors that may be at play including cognitive learning abilities, styles and disabilities, which would include vision, auditory processing and more. This is often covered by a complete neuropsychological evaluation.
Observe: Be your own detective and observe your child’s energy levels. Marlo suggests that a child who is hyperactive all the time may not look tired, but may be exhausted. Other children are easier to read, they are fatigued by the mere mention of school work.

Make a Change: Based upon observations and evaluations pick a starting point to implement changes. As you make a change continue to observe your child. You will likely need to incorporate additional changes. Marlo adds, “There could be allergies, a learning disorder, or maybe the hip/pelvic misalignment in the body.”

For more information on Marlo’s personal journey, visit her website