Learning disability (LD) is a disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to listen, think, read, write or do mathematical calculations and is linked to psychological processes involved in understanding or using language. It can manifest itself very differently from one child to another, as each person is unique. One child may struggle with reading and writing, while another loves reading but can’t understand math.
LD is not caused by a problem with intelligence or motivation and does not include learning problems that are the result of physical disability (like vision or hearing disabilities).
LD is a much bigger problem in the US than people realize. According to statistics from 2011, 5 percent of US school age children were diagnosed with learning disabilities. The same survey suggests that an additional 15 percent or more of students struggle due to unidentified and unaddressed learning and attention issues1.
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities2, only 12 to 26 percent of high school students with LD received average or above-average scores on math and reading assessments. Among students without LD, the rate is 50 percent. Thirty three percent of kids with LD have been held back a grade, and 50 percent were suspended or expelled from school in 2011.
Homeopathy is a powerful tool that addresses youth LD with much success. And while these cases should be classically approached, taking into account the person as a whole to include mental, emotional and physical symptoms in order to find the correct constitutional remedy, we do see in practice some remedies that stand out and are more prevalent in LD cases, such as Alumina, Bar-C., Calcarea, Calcarea phos., Phosphorus and Ph-Ac.
Case of a 12-year-old girl with learning disabilities
A girl I’ll refer to as Jackie was brought to my clinic by her mother looking for help with learning disabilities. School, homework and exams were always a struggle. Her grades were lower than most of her classmates and she had a tutor for homework three days a week.
My impression of Jackie was one of a very intelligent, outgoing young woman. She sat very close to her mom, a bit clingy, yet she was talkative and quite engaging throughout the appointment. She seemed to have mastered conversational skills at her young age. She gave me a hug at the end of the appointment as they were leaving.
Jackie’s height is average for her age group, and she is on the slimmer side. She has not started puberty yet. She uses her hands in an animated way while talking.
There’s a family history of diabetes and hypertension on the father’s side and cancer on the mother’s side.
Jackie describes her learning disabilities as “my brain doesn’t get it”, both for math and reading. She can read and understand a paragraph, or a sentence, and then it evaporates out of her head. “It’s just not there anymore”. As a result, she would need to read the same sentence over and over again many times. In math her problem is described as “not getting it”. Especially in class when it’s noisy, it’s hard for her to concentrate.
Jackie is very anxious. Her biggest fear is that something will happen to her parents. Her father travels often and she will cry each time he leaves, afraid that he will die and not come back. She cried and threw a tantrum to prevent her mother from washing the windows in the house because she was afraid the mother, climbing on a ladder, would fall and die.
Jackie also fears monsters when she’s in bed at night. She believes they are under her bed. She covers herself over her head as she falls asleep. Her sleep is restless as she moves a lot. She says she can hear her parents talk in the house even after she falls asleep.
Her mother describes her as intelligent, very social and outgoing, and needing to be with someone all the time. “She asks to get together with friends every day”. She demands attention and loves being in the spotlight.
Mornings are the worst time of the day for her. She is cranky and does not want to get out of bed. She will be angry and rude to her mother until breakfast. Eating seems to ameliorate her state most of the time. Jackie is hypoglycemic and needs to eat often, yet she is full after a few bites. She eats slowly. If she doesn’t eat often enough she gets a headache and will become very irritable. She has headaches in school daily “because I’m hungry”. She craves steaks, hamburgers and fruits. She does not like candy or sweets in general.
Jackie is very thirsty. She prefers cold water with ice and drinks a lot throughout the day. Her mother says she gets easily dehydrated. She keeps water by her bed at night and wakes up during the night to drink.
Jackie rarely gets sick, and when she does her fevers are never too high and she usually recovers fast.
Rx Phosphorus 1M single dose.
Jackie fits the Phosphorus picture very well: she’s sympathetic, outgoing, anxious and has a strong need for company. The Phosphorus’ essence is “porous” or “leaky”. George Vithoulkas describes it as diffusion. We see this leakiness in Jackie on all levels: from food (blood glucose levels) to water and all the way to the words she’s reading in her school books. Other phosphorus keynotes: tremendous thirst for cold water, headache worse fasting and fear something bad will happen. When it comes to Jackie’s learning disabilities, Phosphorus can be found in the following rubrics:
MIND – CONCENTRATION – difficult – children, in
MIND – CONCENTRATION – difficult – studying
MIND – MEMORY – weakness of memory – read; for what he has
MIND – MENTAL EXERTION – agg. – impossible
MIND – DULLNESS – thinking – long; unable to think
First follow up 5 weeks later
Jackie is calmer. She was not anxious at all when her father left on his travels. She is no longer scared of monsters, nor does she cover her head with the blanket when going to sleep. Although her mother sees only a few positive changes in her ability to do homework, Jackie thought the change was significant: “It’s much easier for me to do it (homework) now”. No change in hunger or headaches.
No further prescription.
Second follow up 8 weeks later
All anxiety went away. “I’m not worried anymore”. Jackie is receiving much better grades in school. “I can do math. It’s easy now”. Reading is becoming much easier for Jackie and in the mornings she is waking up refreshed and in a good mood. She is not as thirsty as before, yet still very hungry in school and having headaches, though not as often as before. Jackie’s mother says that she noticed progress after the first follow up but there was no further progress that she could see in the last month.
2nd dose of Phosphorus 1M was prescribed.
Third follow up 6 weeks later
Jackie loves reading. She picks up books on her own and cannot put them down. Her mother said it feels like she’s catching up on reading. Grades at school continue to improve and her teacher noted the transformation in Jackie’s performance during parent teacher conference. With special permission from school, Jackie is allowed to eat small snacks between classes and the headaches completely went away.
* I did not have a chance to continue addressing Jackie’s hypoglycemia as Jackie’s mother considered the treatment done and did not bring her back for another follow up.
- The State of Learning Disabilities (2014) – NCLD. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2016, from https://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-State-of-LD.pdf
- Learning Disabilities – understood.org. (n.d.). Retrieved March 09, 2016, from https://www.understood.org/~/media/e7fe0b6d28154101b2f55c89bf90b4ab.pdf