For Any Neurodifference, Tricia Cook is Helping Parents and Teachers Get Better Help with Common Learning & Behavioral Challenges with the ELBERT™ Program.

Over twenty years of being in education, I provide tutoring, consulting, and coaching on dyslexia and other neurodevelopmental differences. Over the last 15 years, I’ve observed an increasing amount of behavioral, sensorial, cognitive, physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties and differences along with an increased number of children being medicated; I had seen over and over that students with behavioral challenges had undetected learning differences.

Therefore, the best support includes understanding the impact that a negative social environment has on those who have learning differences, or as I prefer to say “neurodifferent”, my thought on helping students succeed employs a positive attitude and positive environment towards learning for those who have difficulty with learning. Instead of allowing shame and anger to overwhelm the learner, I focus on bringing in positive emotions and teaching methods that help the learner with their learning difference and change their brain with self-directed neuroplasticity. I support students with mixed enrichment, intervention, and tutoring classes and/or sessions stemming from a hybrid of elements from Montessori and Orton-Gillingham methods which based on my own inductive reasoning and a detective sense contributed to my own gift of dyslexia, certifications, credentials, and experiences including countless hours of student observations, educational research, and studies along with my perpetual care for children. Lastly, I have an evaluation that “looks at the whole child.” I work with all stakeholders (i.e.teachers, parents, and carers) on constructive engagement when learning based on student “whole child” observation(s) inspired by Maria Montessori, Benjamin Bloom, Peter Levine, Conrad E. &  Cohen B., Dr. J. Puleo & Dr. L. Horowitz, S.T. Orton & A. Gillingham, Abraham Maslow, Howard Garner,  Dr. Bradley Nelsen, Hans Berger, Jean Piaget, Grolnick, W. & Kurowski, C., and Erik Erickson.


  1. Difficulty understanding any concept without starting with the “whole picture”. The dyslexic learner thinks and understands the world in whole concrete images. If the whole concrete image has not been presented first and is available when the student is starting to learn the parts, the parts will not make any sense and the brain will discard them. The dyslexic needs to start with and see whole images and whole concepts, not the separated parts.
  2. Difficulty with understanding the parts separate from the whole image of the word (unless able to generalize and evaluate color, shape, size, and dimension-3 D image/concept). If these students cannot see the parts within the whole and the whole image at the same time, they cannot make sense out of pieces or parts of information. For example, demonstrating fractions. Use two oranges, keep one whole, cut the other up first into halves then into quarters, but always have the visual image of the whole orange present. The student must understand that the word fraction stands for the equal parts you have created from the whole.
  3.  Difficulty with the skills of hand printing, spelling, reading, and composing sentences correctly. This usually means that the dyslexic brain cannot transfer its concrete images adequately which works with abstracts and uses the language of words and numbers. The dyslexic thinker cannot learn, analyze, or work with what they do not understand or can process. This is a strong indication that although the students are taking in information and attempting to store it in whole concrete images, they are not using it for thinking or learning that requires abstract processing. Instead, they are memorizing the image of the information and giving it back verbatim in their answers. They can do this easily if they are expected to give one-word answers or complete a sentence, but thinking out cause and effect is next to impossible because it is an abstract task that means nothing to them and requires proper training to cope with it.
  4. Difficulty with sequencing and possibly categorizing (put in a logical order) numbers, letters, words, sentences, ideas, and thoughts. If the students can neither see the “parts within the whole” in their correct sequence, they cannot spell, read, write sentences and paragraphs, nor do mathematical calculations. Difficulty understanding the abstract. The dyslexic learner does not always understand the abstract words, thoughts, and ideas they hear or read as they cannot easily turn them into whole concrete images they can visualize. If the dyslexic student cannot complete thought in a visual image, they will have problems saving it and storing it in long term memory because it does not make sense. The dyslexic thinker attempts to understand what is being read or spoken by catching the concrete nouns and active verbs, or by using intuition to fill in the blanks or reason it out.
  5. Difficulty with meaning-making and building a memorized word list. It is very important for all students, including dyslexics, to have a memorized sight list of words that is appropriate to their grade level. These words must be memorized beforehand so the brain does not have to lose time during reading figuring out how the word is decoded, what it sounds like, or means. If the student spends too much time in decoding and recognizing the individual words, comprehension of the story is lost. The student is forced to reread the passage over and over to understand what they have just read. Their short-term memory can consequently dump the information when the dyslexic has struggled too long to decode the words and find context in what they are reading. Therefore, the student will not be able to answer any questions about their reading assignment because the student has not processed the information correctly or stored it in long-term memory.
  6. Difficulty in following instructions. Dyslexic students need very specific and complete instructions on how to do an assignment, project, test, or complete a lesson. Again this is about the necessity to see the whole picture. They need to understand how the assignment starts and ends. They need to know: where to put their name, date and title; what kind of paper to use; pen, pencil or computer; the date to hand it in; how the answers should look (for example one-word answers, a paragraph or a page); and any other issues that may be of concern for the student. Once the student has all the information they require they have the “whole picture” of what to do and can now see the parts so they are ready to start the assignment.
  7. Also, understanding the entire lesson or explanation must be given at one time on the same day. Also, please do not continuously content-switch especially without movement transition activities. If this does not happen, the students will forget everything they should have learned to be able to work on and complete the assignment. Dyslexic students should always be allowed and encouraged to ask questions to fill in any gaps they have in understanding what they are required to do.
  8. Lastly, wondering how your dyslexic thinker reasons? Check out this wonderful graph (below)—inductive reasoning: I want you to notice it’s all very open-minded and representative. Therefore, the instructor needs to be open to several different recreated, representations of the same thing!!!
    * ask me about the “why’s of dyslexia” article.

Ms. Cook’s Dyslexia Do’s & Don’ts:

Note: there can always be exceptions

-Don’t teach blending word families when on an individual phoneme (sound) level. The student needs to process and blend each individual sound with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Therefore, use CVC words is always 3 letters, 3 sounds and in mixed word vowel order and hold the vowel in the middle since the last sound to be processed (plus /am/ is not a natural blend like for example /mp/, /nk/, /ld/ etc.); /am/ is a word family!). On the other hand, word families are great for spelling patterns. 

-Don’t ever time someone with Dyslexia! They need time for word attack, no more guessing! 

-When teaching sight words, don’t begin with one and two letter sight words first. Again the brain needs a distinct beginning, middle, and end.

-Don’t have a schwa (/U/) sound on the end of any of your sounds for this complicates letter-sound processing ex. l= /lhu/.

-Don’t repeat a sound over and over like /a,a,a,a/ when teaching individual phonemes (sounds); then, that’s how students begin to process that letter sound. 

-Don’t just teach letter sounds without teaching letter names and possible image along with it.

-Don’t teach sight and phonetic words without counting the number of letters (sight) and seeing if they match or number of letters and sounds (phonetic) and see if they match; This is due to the dyslexic characteristics mentioned above.

-Don’t “cut short” sounds that can be held when producing because “holding them out” gives the brain more time to process. The held letters are the following letters: a,e,i,o,u,s, z,n,m, x, f, v, l, r (12- almost half, so of course teach these sounds first and note the rule applies to digraphs and trigraphs)

-When reading, you can have them use their finger for tracking and word attack. Plus, when they skim or slide their they will omit letters especially in the medial position.

-When spelling, you can have them  “check their writing” every time.

Tricia Cook, M. Ed., Reading Specialist,

O-G Tutor Training in Math and Reading, & AMS Montessori Certified

* (2019) Member of The Dyslexia Foundation- an


*Member of the International Dyslexia Association

Contact Me About These Common Learning & Behavioral Challenges…

You might need to contact me for help if you or your child/student can’t be reached and seems disconnected; Also, when it comes to learning, they show some or all of the following emotions and challenges:

Anger, frustration, shame, and sadness; has chronic headaches, stomach aches, hives; appears to have low-self esteem; squints when reading; feels behind or “different” than the other kids; has behavioral and learning challenges; complains; thrives for constant attention; labeled emotionally intense, gifted and talented or twice-exceptional; has trouble focusing or paying attention; destroys their pencil, eraser, and crumples up their paper after working very hard; problems with organization or being on time; poor body-space awareness; sleep and/or digestive problems; has problems spelling or with handwriting; complete interest-based learner; grips pencil very hard; has glasses but still complains about not seeing the letters or words, ultra-sensitive, problems with authority; doodles on paper; problems understanding verbal directions; picks and scratches at their skin and nails; can be needy, clingy, and “whinny”; described as dramatic, creative and very imaginative by others; been or going to be held back in school; has trouble connecting to others; tired all the time; shows anxiety and anxiousness; overactive-reads, writes, moves, and thinks extremely fast; sensory-processing problems; constantly moving hands/feet or fidgeting; overly kind or pleasing others; considerably ‘moody’; known for “daydreaming”; aggressive and violent; gets low grades: yet, highly intelligent; can comprehend well but has trouble with spelling/reading fluency; adverse to learning or trying something new.

Yes…my program is enrichment, intervention, and tutoring as well as calming-breathing techniques. With enrichment, I support families with courses, workshops, podcasts, and freebies. With intervention and tutoring, I offer group and individual classes. I’m a Reading and Dyslexia Specialist who has Ayurvedic training! I work with adults too.


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