Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | June 1, 2009
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My son is a slow learner

Q. My son is a slow learner, but when it comes to spelling, he is very good. If you give him a spelling test, once you give him the words to study, he will get them all right, even if it is 100 words. In his class he is the champion speller; he won two prizes for spelling. In other subjects, if he gets to study the exact notes, he will come out good. What I am trying to say is that if he is aware of what he is going to do, then will do well. Is there something wrong with him?

A It seems as if your son has good short-term memory. That is, he is able to hold a small amount of information for a short period of time. You need to work with his teacher and a psychologist to build his long-term memory. This can be done by using stories and diagrams among other things to remember facts he has learnt. Memory difficulties may be caused by different conditions. Neuropsychological testing can offer a basis for your memory problems. These tests are specifically designed tasks used to measure a psychological function in the brain.

Q Good day. I am writing from Toronto, Canada, seeking your help with regards to finding a free therapist/ counsellor for my sister who lives in Jamaica.

She is feeling very depressed and vulnerable. She has lost her job due to the recession and her mother is ill. There are a lot of other issues that she's facing at the moment and she would like to speak to someone who can help her to deal with her feelings and thoughts.

She lives in Old Harbour. Would there be any services for her there? If not, Kingston would be a great alternative as well.

Thanks for your assistance. Keep up the great work.

A. I hope your sister is feeling better as you encourage her when you speak to her. If she attends a church, ask her if she would speak to her pastor about the many things that she is facing. Guide her in looking at her skills and encourage her to do something with her skills and talents. In Spanish Town, at the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists - at 58 Brunswick Avenue, she will be able to get counselling services that will guide her to cope with her problems. Ask her to call 984-5576 to make an appointment.

Q. I am very concerned about a story I read in the paper the other day. Some counsellors gave counselling to some children who had trauma in their lives and told the newspaper reporter what the children said. Were they supposed to do that? Should what the children say be private and confidential, especially since it is being investigated? This is why people are afraid to go to counsellors.

A. All information that is shared with counsellors is private and confidential. Only when there is concern that the person is going to harm him or herself or someone else, should the counsellor tell another responsible individual. For children, once the information is shared, depending on the nature of the information, the parents or legal guardians are usually given a summary of what has been shared. Counsellors do not share information received in a counselling session with the public.

Orlean Brown-Earle, PhD, is a child psychologist and family therapist. Dr Brown-Earle works with children with learning and behaviour problems throughout the island and in the Caribbean. Email questions to helpline@gleanerjm.com or send to Ask the Doc, c/o The Gleaner Company, 7 North Street, Kingston.

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