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Frequently Asked Questions: informational resource for sensory cognitive motor therapy (SCMT).

We are proud to offer a number of different types of therapy at the Agape Learning Center. Dr. James Mayer has worked hard to bring various programs together to maximally benefit his patients. The following are some frequently asked questions.

What does sensory cognitive motor therapy mean?

It is a general term to represent various auditory, vision, thinking and motor integration therapies. These include treatment programs from Rosner, McGuinness, Getman, Ludlam, Cook, Sanet, Getz, Wachs, Sutton, Gibson, Harrison, Trachtman, Lyons, Belgau, Taylor, Ayers, Cassilly and others. These people are giants in their fields. Agape Learning Center is unique, in that Dr. Mayer has integrated the best of these programs and methods.

What kinds of problems can you help with sensory cognitive therapy?

We work with information processing difficulties: auditory, vision, thinking and motor integration problems. Our work naturally improves attention/concentration (both auditory and visual), timing, processing speed and memory/imagery ability. These areas show up in patients that have problems with reading speed and comprehension. Consistent word identification is often a problem. Copying difficulty and frequent loss of place also result. Headaches and eyestrain can be further problems. Sometimes deficits will result in spelling errors and erratic handwriting.

Can you give me a quick overview of sensory cognitive therapy?

Yes, here is a very quick 10-point overview.

  1. It is based on the best scientific research available and is continually modified to incorporate new scientific data.
  2. It targets and trains those skills that are most likely to have a meaningful impact on learning performance and academic abilities.
  3. It is provided individually to achieve significant results quickly.
  4. It consists of sequenced procedures to challenge – not bore or frustrate – the student.
  5. It is provided on a one-on-one basis to allow immediate feedback (error correction and positive reinforcement).
  6. It improves the student’s self-esteem by allowing him or her to actually see the difference in his or her own performance.
  7. It drives new skills to the subconscious so that they become habitual and automatic.
  8. The procedures appear to be non-academic so that they are different from the schoolwork with which the student may have had negative experiences.
  9. Sensory cognitive therapy develops meaningful skills that are used in the student’s daily activities so that there is a high level of retention.
  10. It produces valuable results (there is a high return) when considering committed effort, time, and finances.

What are the major causes of learning problems?

About 85 to 90 percent of learning difficulties are due to poor underlying learning skills. These skills include:

  1. Attention/Concentration: the ability to stay on task or ignore distractions. For example, continuing to read a book while another group is in a discussion.
  2. Phonetic awareness: the ability to blend sounds, segment (un-glue) sounds, and analyze sounds. Problems with reading new words or spelling errors in writing result from poor phonetic awareness.
  3. Memory: the ability to recall short or long-term information. For example, copying from a board (short term) or taking a final history exam (long term).
  4. Comprehension: the ability to understand.
  5. Visualization: the ability to create mental pictures. For example, seeing “in the mind” a math word problem before trying to solve it.
  6. Processing Speed: the ability to handle and process information quickly.

Does stress and anxiety play a role in this?

When a particular skill needed to do a task is difficult or seems to be impossible, both adults and children become stressed. In extremely stressful situations, it gets even worse. Changes take place in the body; heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase. A person’s muscles tighten, and the palms begin to sweat. The stomach feels like a knot. Vision can become blurry. A child’s ability to eat or digest his food is reduced or even stopped. Remember: when a child is asked to do something they cannot do, they will experience stress and anxiety.

Can a parent or teacher help with stress and anxiety?

Yes, if you recognize that a child is experiencing stress, you can tell her how to change the activity or teach him how to ask for help. A child may not recognize stress or be able to tell you that she or he is stressed. He may not think to ask for help because he does not know what kind of help he needs. For example, if a child cannot follow a ball with his eyes, he does not know why. He does not know what his eyes are doing wrong or how to use them differently. He may not even realize that his eyes are causing a problem.

What types of behaviors can be noted during stress?

During stress both adults and children commonly use two types of protective behavior: fight or flight. Fight behaviors may be either throwing a temper tantrum, for example, or hitting another person. Flight behaviors include physically leaving the activity or refusing to participate. Knowing that your child may not have the sensory cognitive motor ability to read, write, kick a ball, or sit still can explain why he may be under stress and easily distracted, frustrated, or hyperactive.

Flight Responses

“I won’t read!”

Hits the nearest child

Throws books of the desk on the way to the chalkboard

Trips other child during physical education

“You can’t make me do it!”

Throws books or homeowkr

Yells or screams at the parent or teacher

Destroys property

Flight Responses

“I need to go to the bathroom”

“I’m sick. I need to go home”

“My mother told me I don’t have to.”

“I’m tired.”

“I don’t like to do this. It’s boring.”

Deliberately falls down


“I forgot my gym clothes.”

Are learning difficulties due to a lack of instruction?

This is easy to determine. If you or your child is able to understand and perform as others do with extra help or tutoring, then the cause of the struggle is poor or inadequate instruction. But if good performance is achieved only after long hours, sweat, or many mistakes, then the problem is deeper.

Is a lack of motivation the cause of learning problems?

Very few enter school or a job not wanting to succeed. It is only after they find it difficult, experience failure, or are ridiculed that they avoid the activities that give them pain. In other words, a lack of motivation is usually the result of a learning problem – not the cause.

Are learning difficulties inherited?

Heredity does play a role, but it is minor. 40% to 70% of our mental abilities are learned, not inherited. Therefore, we can accomplish far more if we stop blaming the problems on genes, which we can’t change, and start enhancing the skills that are learned and can be changed.

Can a child with normal intelligence have a problem with learning?

Absolutely. IQ is only an average of many different learning skills, which means it’s possible for someone who has “normal” intelligence to have scored high on some skills and low on others. And if those “low” scores are in the skills required for reading or math, then reading or math achievement will be low even though IQ is “normal.”

How is it determined if sensory cognitive motor therapy is necessary?

A comprehensive questionnaire and battery of tests will indicate processing areas of strength and weakness. Therapy is used to bring up these scores and improve functioning and behavior. Some of these test results are obtained from the school and others are acquired at Agape Learning Center. Dr. Mayer analyzes test results and parent/teacher observations in determining a diagnosis that is necessary for treatment.

Dr. Mayer is an eye doctor. What does he know about learning?

This is a very good question, especially when you come to our office and see an eyeglass dispensary! Dr. Mayer’s background tells the answer. As a youngster he had processing problems, both auditory and visual. His visual processing problems were severe and therapy allowed him to overcome them. This is why he obtained his doctorate and specialized in vision therapy. With experience he learned that other therapies were often necessary to help his patients. Additional postgraduate education focused on auditory and motor therapies. He found that many learning centers did not have his understanding of visual processing. From this he decided to combine and integrate all of this knowledge together at the Agape Learning Center. This integration seems to be the key in helping hundreds of patients with their learning skills by improving their processing abilities.

Is Agape Learning Center a tutoring facility?

No, we train the processing skills necessary for successful academic performance. We work on the problems, not the symptoms. For example, a reading symptom might be poor speed. A tutor works on repetition with the reading material. We work on the skills that go into speed: phonological awareness, attention, eye tracking and imagery. Many of our patients have worked with private tutors or facilities such as Sylvan Learning Center. Those interventions will help someone with processing problems minimally and inconsistently. Since we get to the core of the problem, our therapy has long lasting effects.

Do you have references or books on what you do?

Yes, there are many. Scattered throughout the website are various references.

Why doesn’t the school do this type of work?

Most teachers are aware of the need for these types of therapies. In fact, many teachers refer directly to our center. The types of therapy that we do, in order to be effective, need to be provided in a one-on-one setting in order to be at the right level for the patient. Due to economics, the school system cannot provide this type of therapy and it must be done privately. Our programs attack the underlying problems so that learning will be much more enjoyable and faster.

If learning skills are learned, why are they not learned in school?

Every school activity a child does has the potential to further develop an underlying learning skill. But this will only happen if the activity is challenging. School lessons are often either too hard (frustrating) or too easy (boring) because children seldom have equal learning skills. Therefore, to make significant improvement in these skills, individual attention is required. Many schools simply dont have the time or funds to provide this very intensive and structured one-on-one training. Also, most teachers tend to teach to the childs stronger skills. By avoiding the weak skills, they don’ get developed. The result may be a life-long learning handicap.

Do the results of the therapy last?

You must remember that we are developing processing skills and that they are used constantly. Each time your child reads, does math, or studies, he is using these skills. Therefore, they don’t disappear. In fact, on our one-year follow-ups, over 98% of our students score at or above the level they scored at the completion of their therapy.

Why are most sensory cognitive motor training procedures non-academic?

Academic content could cause some students to resist training because it may seem too much like school, which the student may associate with negative experiences. Also, the short-range goal is improved learning performance. Therapy improves the student’s learning performance so that the student is able to learn more easily and efficiently. This then makes it possible to achieve our long-range goal of improved academic or job related performance.

What is a therapy task like?

Therapy procedures are made up of tasks that are designed to meet specific goals. The tasks are related, make repetitive demands on a deficient skill, and progressively increase in difficulty. This is a process-specific approach to training (as opposed to a general stimulation approach). A process-specific approach targets the same function systematically and repetitively with related tasks.

Why is therapy provided one-on-one rather than in a group?

Therapy is done one-on-one for two reasons.

  1. First, the activities need to be sequenced according to each student’s skill level. Each training task demands very specific skills. The student needs to be constantly challenged. If the task is too easy, it’s boring. But if it’s too hard, it’s frustrating. Procedures that are challenging will cause the most improvement.
  2. Second, we need to provide immediate feedback. Students need praise when performing correctly as an incentive to keep working, and they need correction when making an error so they are aware of the mistake. Later, they learn to recognize and correct their own errors.

How is therapy different from other remediation programs?

Traditional help for individuals with learning problems has typically focused on one of four methodologies:

  1. sensory therapy (vision, auditory)
  2. motor therapy (speech, occupational)
  3. psychotherapy (motivation)
  4. academic remediation (remedial reading, learning disabled programs, tutoring)

Although these methods may be effective in correcting a sensory, motor, or very specific academic problems, they have had limited results in significantly improving learning performance. Our therapy on the other hand, is a process-specific approach using planned, repetitive exercises that place demands on deficient mental functions. When the student masters the exercise, a more demanding exercise that targets the same mental skill is available to continue the training.

Do all students progress at the same rate?

No. Normally a student with fewer deficient learning skills will progress faster than a student with many. Each procedure is graded according to difficulty and tasks become progressively more complex. Therapy is regulated by mastery, so the number of tasks completed during training differs from student to student. In other words, once the student passes a task, he or she is then allowed to progress to the next challenge (a more difficult task).

Do students get frustrated?

Seldom. Because we start at the point the student can achieve and then gradually increase the demand – like a video game – the student gains ability and confidence. At times the student may get frustrated in the same way she or he would with a video game.

How do we know if we are getting results?

Our training is not done in secret. Parents are required to spend time during the week doing procedures with their child. Therefore parents will know if improvement is being made.

If we’re not seeing results, what do we do?

Stop. If at any time you are not satisfied that the changes are not worth the time, money, and effort, stop. We’re here to help get maximum improvement in the shortest period of time. If it’s not happening – don’t continue.

How does sensory cognitive motor therapy differ from academic tutoring?

Our program tackles the cause rather than the effect. If the reason for learning difficulties is poor instruction, then academic tutoring is the correct solution. But if there is a deficient underlying learning skill, then academic tutoring is only a stopgap and will need to be repeated year after year. Therapy, on the other hand, “cures” the cause.

In conclusion, we hope this information gave you further insights into Sensory Cognitive Motor therapy.