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Pyramid of Potential
245 Washington St., #3369,
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


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  Where's Kathy?


It is now time to set up your professional development at your school - Kathy is available for many dates this summer! Call now to secure YOUR date!


Below are the upcoming workshops that Kathy Johnson is giving. If she is not coming to your area, why not hire her for your next professional development?



The following professional development workshops are sponsored by PESI. If one is not coming to your area, but you would like to see this workshop, on April 30 the workshop will be aired live via webcast.Click here for more information.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 in LOUISVILLE, KY

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 in BLUE ASH, OH

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Thursday, April 10, 2014 in COLUMBUS, OH

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 in OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 in DALLAS, TX

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Wednesday, May 07, 2014 in RICHMOND, VA

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Thursday, May 08, 2014 in CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 in TEMECULA, CA

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Thursday, May 22, 2014 in CARLSBAD, CA

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 in HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Thursday, June 05, 2014 in PARSIPPANY, NJ

If you aren't near any of these on-site professional development conferences, consider the following:

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach 
Price: $169.99  Author: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.
Format: DVD

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: Brain Development Causes & Remediation
Speaker: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.
  • Video Webcast (4/30/2014) - $169.99
  • Buy It - $169.99
  • Rent It - $99.99
  • Rent It - $99.99

Stress and the Brain - Making Learning Easier
April 3, 2014

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"Did you know that 90% of brain development happens based primarily on experiences during the ages of 0-5 years? 

Dear All,

It looks like we finally got the spring weather here in update New York. Most of the snow melted in the last couple of days, and with temperatures forecast to stay in the 50s for the next few days, it should be gone by the end of the weekend. Hurray! It has been a long, cold winter. I hope yours has been exactly the type of weather you prefer at this time of year.


I was a little under the weather this week, so I have an article written by a guest. There is so much useful information here - enjoy!


Next week is Carol Brown's Conference - be sure to take a look at the information she is sharing! It's very exciting to see how she has lined up experts to share their information about how to improve the brain. More information can be found at There is still time to sign up!


This month, through April 30, the new updated version of Maintaining Brains Everyday DVD is on sale. It includes an introduction to the primitive reflexes, instructions about each exercise, a beginner level video to follow along that has 6 reflex integration exercises, followed by the advanced level. Normally this sells for $34.95, but this month it is only $29.95. Go to for more information.

Stress and the Brain: Making Learning Easier

by Shoshana Shamberg OTR/L, MS, FAOTA

President of Abilities OT Services, Inc and Irlen Visual Learning Center

Baltimore, MD


Sensory stress can be overwhelming.  Noises are often too loud and divert our attention and focus, often impacting our ability to think and problem solve.  Compounded by visual stress when look at the glare and brightness of a computer screen for hours at work, school, or home, our ability to process information can be slowed down and inefficient.   It can even affect they way we hear what is said or see what we are reading and understand the information to be usable and meaningful .


Visual stress can be caused by a variety of stressors and may go undetected for decades by physicians, eye doctors, educators, neurologists, parents and the person themselves. When you "see" what is actually happening is the brain processing and interpreting the visual information coming into your eyes and brain.  If the process is interrupted or distorted in some way then the person may be seeing in a distorted and stressful way but may not realize it, since it is the way he or she has always "seen".   This can create problems with reading fluency , accuracy, endurance and attention,  handwriting and math problems, testing taking, working at a computer monitor, and result in chronic migraines and headaches. 


 An example is the phenomena of the optical illusion may help explain this issue called scotopic sensitivity syndrome, or light sensitivity.  . Visual illusions are an important tool to help understand how visual processing works in the normal brain.  Look at the optical illusion and you may think you are seeing things such as a curved line that is actually straight of  a moving object or line that is actually standing still.  You wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you . It's not you eyes . An illusion is proof that you do not always see what you think you see because of the way your brain and your entire visual system perceive and interpret an image. Therefore, it would be more accurate to call them visual illusions than optical illusions


Visual Illusions occur in the visual areas of the brain as they receive and process information. The other words, your perceptioin of an illusion has to do with how your brain works - and not the optics of your eye.  Everything that enters the senses needs to be interpreted tough the brain and these interprestatoins occasionally go wrong, "when this happens what you perceive does not match with reality". Color , motion, shape, and the amount of light that hits your eye are just a  few of the factors that might cause you to see in illusion. Visual illusions make it clear that we can perceive thinigs differently then they seem.


What are the symptoms of visual stress overload and scotopic sensivitiy syndrome, or Irlen Syndrome?  How can I determine if I have this condition and that I am seeing accurately and effeiciently.? How do I know if my reading, math, handwriting, headachdes/migraines and anxieties are caused by light sensitivity?  Is there a way to remedy this problems and help me "see" more accurately and my brain process information more effiently and easier?  I will attempt to provide simple answers to complex neurological challenges in this article.


 Over 80% of learning is visual  and over 90% of the light coming into the eyes is processed by and interpreted by our brains.  Over 25% of children in k-6 grades have visual problems serious enough to impact learning.  1 in 3 children in the USA do not have vision exams before 6 years old, most never receive testing that includes visual perceptual skills and deficits, therefore problems can go undetected.  Development optometrists, who are specially trained to address visual motor and developmental needs often overlook the very important aspect of stress overload from glare, light sensitivity , and  visual distortions when reading.   A trained Irlen practitioner knows how to  assess and remove offending spectral bands of light using a carefully calibrated  intervention involving color overlays and spectral filters.  There are 10 overlays  and combinations of colors , as well as, a matt and glossy side.  with thousands of possible layers of color combinations in a specific order.  This process is patented and highly effective in fine tuning the benefit as evidenced by thousands of testimonials of satisfied Irlen clients, many using their colored glasses or contact lenses for 10 years or more.


Over 90% of all visual information is interpretation and processing accomplished in the brain centers, and only a small percent is actual information coming into the structures of the eyes. Many of these visual problems if not related to distance or near and far vision, or known and detected eye diseases, can go undetected for years and even decades , or misdiagnosed and not recognized as stemming from the visual system. However there are some simple ways to address the visual stress you or your child may be experiencing - 1) eliminate glare when reading white or black letters especially on glossy, bright paper with Irlen Color Overlays and changing the background color paper or computer screen monitor to one that is comfortable to look at and makes the letter clearer.  2) Wear a sun visor or sit in a place away from offending fluorescent lighting or bright lights, and closer to a window with natural lighting and or shading. Find the most comfortable area when reading that is relaxing to the eyes. 3) Use larger type of a magnifying bar when your eyes become tired and letters may look a bit distorted or hard to see. 4) Drink plenty of chemical free, filtered or spring water to hydrate your body especially your brain for energy and removing toxins. 5) Exercise, relax, and eat healthy with plenty of vitamins and minerals that support a healthy visual system and body. Consult with your doctor or nutritionist on ways to include fruits and vegetables that support a healthy immune system which assists in managing stress. 6) Obtain consultation with a Certified Irlen Diagnostician for possible Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or Irlen Syndrome, which is a carefully calibrated, colored, spectral lens that filters our offending light frequencies and helps to relax the brain and visual systems, enabling those systems to work more efficiently and accurately , with greater attention span, clarity,  and memory-  during reading, writing, computer work, driving , sports performance, sitting in indoor lighting esp. fluorescent, and assists in controlling or eliminating chronic migraines/headaches. 


Why are reading and attention span difficulties, migraines, and stress-related sensory processing problems increasing among school-aged children? Why are adults increasingly complaining of stress-related conditions? Could it be because both children and adults are spending most of their time sitting still for long periods under artificial lighting, working at their school desks or computer screens? The lack of movement, as well as auditory and visual stress, can affect our ability to listen, understand, and remember what we read or hear. It can also affect our ability to relax and use our bodies comfortably. Such stress may even lead to illness and learning disabilities, and then to low self-esteem, chronic depression, pain, and anxieties.

These issues often follow a person into the college and work environment, and affect his or her ability to successfully sustain employment and personal relationships. Many of these people are intelligent, but their performance and test scores do not indicate their abilities, and they often give up in despair and see themselves as stupid without really understanding why.

For parents, it is frustrating and overwhelming to weed through the maze of resources and interventions in order to address each child's unique challenges, not to mention the high cost involved. For society, the tax dollars going into prisons, drug rehabilitation, and unemployment is rising even though modern medicine and technology has been trying to find answers for decades.

Simple Solutions

Fortunately, there are some simple assessments that can be tried first. For over 30 years, I have researched these simple solutions and implemented them in public and private schools, at jobsites, and in my private practice. Many were introduced to me by my friends and clients, rather than the professional training programs within my career track. They include Brain Gym sensory-motor exercises, simple mental exercises, nutritional interventions over medications, and visual perceptual technologies like the Irlen Method.

No one intervention works for everyone and that is why careful assessment is recommended. However, the following suggestions can be implemented by anyone in a school, home, or work environment, and may minimize or eliminate the need for support services, therapies, specialized schooling, and long-term tutoring. Math and reading can become enjoyable learning experiences, with less fidgeting and increased fluidity, accuracy, focus, and memory.

1)   Positioning and movement: When students or workers sit at a desk with proper alignment, it is less fatiguing on the neck, shoulders, back, and eyes. They are more relaxed and able to attend to their tasks. Feet should be flat on the floor, with hips and knees at 90-degree angles and the back supported by a chair with back support. Forearms should rest on the desk comfortably, not too high or low. (Diagrams for proper positioning are available upon request.) Periodic stretching and vision-exercise breaks release tension and enhance mental function.

2) Lighting: Many people are sensitive to glare and fluorescent lighting. The discomfort is perceived through the symptoms like eye strain, headaches/migraines, neck and back pain, fidgety behavior or fatigue. The light sensitive person may prefer to read in darker than normal lighting, and may read better at home under incandescent lighting than at school or work.

Help this person by lowering the intensity of the light, and/or allowing natural lighting into the room. Wearing a sun visor or baseball cap helps filter out adverse glare from fluorescent lighting or bright daylight. In addition, a tabletop cubicle made from a decorated box provides an enclosed space to minimize visual distraction, as well as glare.

In many cases, light sensitivity is caused by a visual perception issue known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, or the Irlen Syndrome. This syndrome, which often mimics dyslexia and ADD/ADHD, is detected through an evaluation by a professional trained and certified in the Irlen Method. Those with this syndrome can get relief by using simple color overlays ($7) or lenses that filter out adverse light frequencies. Reading with the specially prescribed color overlay minimizes glare and visual distortions considerably.

3) Written materials and writing: Some children simply need larger print materials or a way to reduce the discomfort of reading black letters on a white shiny paper. The teacher can photocopy text on different colored papers from any office supply store and ask the student which color is more comfortable and makes the letters easier to read. Reading aloud can also help the teacher determine which color is easier for the student to read from.

Use graph paper for math assignments to ensure that columns line up accurately, which prevents needless mistakes.

For proper letter and number formation, use specially lined paper to minimize visual confusion. (The Handwriting Without Tears Company sells lined paper resembling Hebrew notebook paper, which is ideal.)

An angled desktop or easel, like a large tabletop stander, provides ergonomic positioning and comfortable vision when copying from a blackboard or reading and writing in an upright position. Make one yourself from notebooks, rubber bands, and a clip. (Directions are available upon request.)

Use a tiny pencil to facilitate pincer grasp or, alternatively, try a variety of pencil grippers to see which one is best for the student.

Soft pencils make a darker mark than regular pencils and are less fatiguing to the hands.

Shorten writing assignments to test for knowledge without the stress of too much handwriting or keyboarding. Instead of sentences and essays, use methods like circling the answer or filling in the blank.

4) Math skills: Check to see if has trouble reading math symbols, numbers, and columns, especially during sustained attention. If the child is accurate in the beginning of an assignment of the same level of difficulty but makes progressively more mistakes, and has difficulty sustaining attention, it is likely due to fatigue and possibly visual distortion, not lack of knowledge. This must be addressed by a vision specialist or appropriate professional, or the child may be at risk for greater levels of learning problems. While the child may compensate somewhat, he will be under undue mental and emotional stress. Try copying work onto color paper, with more spacing and larger type, to see if accuracy and attention improve.

Other written materials, like musical scores, standardized test sheets, and computerized assignments, may also be very difficult to decipher and use.

5) Visual perception and motors skill strategies: Have the child close one eye and read; then switch eyes. If the child states that reading and seeing the type are more comfortable with one eye, this may indicate a vision problem related to how the two eyes work together (binocular vision). If impaired, it can affect performance in reading, writing and other activities involving seeing up close.

If a child has trouble following an object or looking across and up and down the page without moving his head - or if the eyes look jerky as they move and he has trouble finding and keeping the place, or if he cannot accurately catch a ball - there may be a visual motor deficit that can adversely affect academic learning and sports performance.

Visual stress in childhood as well as adulthood can be mistakenly diagnosed as a learning disability, like dyslexia, or various mental conditions related to anxiety, attention deficit and more. But when the visual stress is addressed successfully, other sensory systems, such as auditory processing and tactile sensitivities, are helped as well.

A traditional eye exam may not pick up these problems. A developmental optometrist, educational psychologist, or specially trained occupational therapist is trained to assess these issues and will also have ideas for intervention.



6) Behavioral and psychological challenges: Children and adults may exhibit symptoms resembling ADD/ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, and severe depression or manic behavior. Their behavior may actually be due to stress overload caused by the inability to process sensory information and to balance mental, physical and emotional skills. Compensation techniques may increase functioning, but the person is still working much too hard to accomplish what others do with much less effort.

Specialized sensory-motor exercises and controlling the environment can make a huge difference in behavior. A trained specialist can assess the person and provide ideas for implementation at home and school. Some of these might be extended time for assignments and test taking, books on tape, using a computer, shorter assignments, a less distracting environment, ear phones to block noise, periodic sips of water to address dehydration, healthy snacks to prevent low blood sugar, and scheduled breaks to recharge.

These are just a few of the many problems and solutions that can be easily implemented without undue cost or time. They may save thousands of dollars in specialized services and help maximize of students and adults in school and work environments. For a list of resources and more ideas, email Shoshana Shamberg, OTR/L, MS, FAOTA at, or call the Irlen Visual Learning Center of MD at 410-358-7269.    
Mrs. Shamberg is an occupational therapist, Special Education Consultant and Certified Irlen Screener/Diagnostician and Brain Gym Consultant. She is president of Abilities OT Services and Seminars, Inc. and Director of the Irlen Visual Learning Center of Maryland. She has provided consultation and services to educational institutions for over 35 years. She has provided training nationally on a variety of related topics and authored over 50 textbook chapters and nationally published articles. She has appeared on video, webinars, television and radio across the country.    


Thanks to Mrs. Shamberg for the great article this week, while I was under the weather. Next week I will continue on the previous series, Cognitive Skills and the Primitive Reflexes: Memory, Attention and Processing Speed.


Have a great week, 


Kathy Johnson


Equipping Minds Conference   

  Strengthening Cognitive Abilities Through a Multi-Disciplinary Approach


                           April 9-11, 2014   

                                 Danville, KY 

 World Renown Guest Speakers Joining Us:


Dr. David Martin, PhD, Co-Author, Developing Minds: A Resource for Teaching Thinking and The Thinking Academy


Rafaele Joundry, Author, Why Aren't I Learning?


Dr. Tracy Alloway, PhD, Author, The Working Memory Advantage: Train Your Brain to Function Stronger, Smarter, and Faster 



Host Presenters: Carol Brown and Kyle Brown


The Equipping Minds Conference trains educators, therapists, and other specialists in our multi-disciplinary approach, which increases anyone's capacity to learn. You will be introduced to the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability, the role of neuro-developmental therapy, sound therapy, vestibular therapy, vision therapy, and cognitive developmental therapy. You will be provided with a proven set of exercises in these areas through a hands-on approach. This conference is designed for those who want to implement this program into their private practice, learning center, or school.


Conference Schedule


  • 9:00 am - Carol Brown: "The Equipping Minds Program: Understanding, Identifying, and Strengthening Cognitive Abilities"
  • 10:00 am - "Neuro-Developmental Therapy and Exercises"
  • 11:00 am - Carol Brown: "Working Memory Exercises Crucial for Learning, Language, and Life Skills"
  • 12:00 pm - Lunch
  • 1:00 pm - Dr. David Martin: "Structural Cognitive Modifiability and Mediated Learning Based on Reuven Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment Program"
  • 2:00 pm - "Vestibular Therapy for Dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Dysgraphia, and Other Disorders"
  • 3:00 pm - Carol Brown: "Auditory and Visual Processing Exercises"
  • 4:00 pm - Rafaele Joudry: "Understanding the Benefits of Sound Therapy"


  • 9:00 am - Dr. Tracy Alloway: "Working Memory: Why It Is More Important Than IQ and How to Increase It"
  • 10:30 am - Carol Brown: "Developing Critical Thinking"
  • 12:00 pm - Lunch
  • 1:00 pm - Kyle Brown: "Remembering What You Read: Visualizing for Comprehension"
  • 2:00 pm - Kyle Brown: "Putting Your Thoughts on Paper"
  • 3:00 pm - Carol Brown: "Adapting for All Ages and Abilities: Gifted, Dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, and Others"


  • 9:00 am-5:00 pm - Carol Brown: "Putting Everything Together: A Typical Day in Your Practice, Center, or Classroom"





Pyramid of Potential Series Exercises are now available as apps for your iPhone or iPad!

These apps contain exercises that, if done daily for at least 30 days, have helped many people improve the issues identified below! Based on brain development research and "integration of primitive reflexes", the exercises are appropriate for ages 5 through 99, are simple, and take about 10 minutes a day.


Use these for home therapy at a price anyone can afford!


For the Overview app, click here  


Hypersensitivity and Anxiety

Are you anxious or nervous? Are you sensitive to light or sound? Would you like to live a calmer, easier life?

For Hypersensitivity and Anxiety click here    


Organization and Time Management

 Are you disorganized? Are you frequently late but don't mean to be and mix up time? Do you find it hard to keep things in sequential order?

For Organization and Time Management click here  


ADD-ADHD, Memory & Bed wetting

Do you have trouble paying attention, are fidgety and impulsive? Do you have trouble with short term memory or with things that are said? Perhaps someone you know has had trouble with bed wetting?

 For ADD/ADHD, Memory and Bedwetting click here


Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

Do you or someone you know have a hard time reading, especially with reversing letters and numbers at an older age? Do you have poor handwriting? Do you have a hard time getting your thoughts down on paper?

For Dyslexia and Dysgraphia click here


Vision, Co-ordination & Attention

Do you know someone who struggles with vision - getting headaches when reading, eyes jump over words and lines, or who can read but doesn't like to? Or who had trouble learning to swim or is a messy eater? Who has problems concentrating, but not necessarily hyperactive? 

For Vision, Coordination and Attention click here
Save 20%
Primitive Reflexes: Foundation for Learning
7+ hour webinar and videos

Normally $198, until March 31 just $159!!

Offer Expires: March 31, 2014