The Extra Lesson helps individuals with difficulties in writing, reading, or math as well as not feeling integrated in one’s body. The exercises are similar to Sensory Integration and pediatric Occupational Therapy, but are enhanced by centering and artistic work. Developed over forty years ago by Waldorf school educator Audrey McAllen in England, the Extra Lesson is an assessment plus a series of movement, speech, drawing, and painting exercises. The premise is that difficulties in reading, writing, and math could be due to inadequate spatial orientation, poor body geography and to sensory integration challenges, including retained early movement patterns. These difficulties may arise from a missed stage in the first seven years of development or from numerous other factors such as trauma. Behavioral challenges are also addressed through this work plus parent or teacher consultations.
The assessment is a sequence of exercises and drawings which takes approximately one hour in the office setting. It helps determine if a missed developmental stage such as crawling or midline integration has impacted academic, behavioral and motor skill development.The follow up interview with the parent or individual to review neurodevelopmental history includes questions about:
- prenatal/birth history (including any birth stress)
- crawling, walking, and speaking milestones
- movement activities that are preferred or avoided
- sensitivities to food, clothing and the environment
- learning styles
- childhood illnesses, accidents, bumps and falls
Recommendations will include home activities, supportive therapies such as Craniosacral, referrals to other professionals, and the Extra Lesson. This is a program of individualized sessions done weekly or twice weekly in the office to help a person work through hindrances so that she may learn with greater ease and confidence.
Duration of Services
Extra Lesson sessions occur once or twice a week in Williston, Vermont for one hour each time, often in a series of twelve sessions. A person with a mild challenge in handwriting, math or reading may require only one series of twelve sessions while a person with more moderate challenges in several areas may require ongoing Extra Lesson for a year or more. It takes a year for the physical body to fully incorporate major changes; therefore a year or more of intervention (for example 36 sessions) should be expected for most individuals.