Learning Specialist

John Toker, M.Ed. LD K-12, M.A.

ADHD, Autism, Asperger, NVLD, Dyslexia, Motivation, Organization
Tutor Services
Seeing and Listening
Students’ level of self-esteem can, in and of itself, be a deciding factor in their learning
achievement. I use my background as, formerly, a licensed psychotherapist to help people identify
and address unfounded negative self-images, which impede higher-level learning.

Some students have a sense of shame around their learning abilities. In many cases, events of
feeling embarrassed among peers have ongoing effects on self-perceptions of their intellectual
abilities. Some people became afraid to try in school. They have intense anxiety over expectations
to learn new material in front of peers. They fear failure and seek, temporary, emotional security
by shutting down or acting out. Some reason, “I did it wrong because I don’t care and wasn’t
really trying to do it right.”

I work with students on how to control their anxiety and, in so, academically excel among peers.
Each student needs a way of balancing their emotions that is specific to their individual needs. My
techniques reflect a process that customizes students' needs to control anxiety. If students need
services that exceed the scope of a learning specialist, I refer them to psychotherapists, and work
with such professionals.
It is through intensive work that students develop their own learning ‘tools.’ They, through my
work with them, learn how to study on an independent level. Simply, like Piaget,  I meet
students at their level of development, and create situations that serve as optimal learning
environments. Students have ongoing opportunities to discover the skills needed for effective
reading, writing, and math during
tutor sessions with me.

Reading, Spelling and Speech need Phonemic Awareness:

There are varying models of how language development occurs with sound words (phonemes)
and printed words (graphemes). My technique reflects a synergy by guiding learners’ prior
auditory experiences to text and supporting construction of meaning without prior experience to

Each individual has varying needs as they address phonemic awareness issues. Distortions in
hearing or auditory processing can contribute to behavioral or learning disorders.

Some gaps in phonemic awareness stem from hearing that is disorganized, erratic, asymmetrical,
hypersensitive, or otherwise abnormal. If students need my skills in enhancing phonemic
awareness, I may combine such services with licensed speech pathologists. My tutor sessions
include lessons learned during trainings in Orton Gillingham and material by Lindamood Bell.

Visual art is used as a tool to allow people to turn 2 dimensional, ‘lifeless’ words into movie like
mental images. Gestalt imagery is used to enhance comprehension, while making reading an
empowering experience that is fun.

Relaxation techniques and coaching help undo a history of shame that is often associated with
learning; this occurs during tutor sessions. Students are taught to see relaxation and focus as a
synergistic process.

Computers and learning software are used on an individual basis.   

In short, my individualized tutoring methods allow the term learning disability to simply mean
learn differently.

ADD/ADHD symptoms as with Dyslexia, Autism, and Asperger's Disorder are addressed in a
team fashion.  Such team may include parents or guardians, teachers, optometrists, psychiatrists,
and other professional treatment providers; my experience as a tutor who met with such people
has played a key role in students success.

Autism is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the
autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).  PDD-NOS pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise
specified is on the ASD spectrum.

ASDs symptoms reflects a need to integrate often exceptional non-interpersonal skills with social
development. I work with people to complete reading, writing and math in a way that promotes
awareness of social context and value.  

Clients are sometimes referred to optometrists who specialize in how learning interrelates with
decoding words; naturally, as a tutor I always differ to the parents for the final decision. We
work as a team to complement each other’s visual learning services. Students are able to
overcome, through individualized occipital exercises, visual learning deficits. Students learn visual
exercises that help them coordinate the use of their left and right brains. Bright people have gaps
in how they process left and right brain thoughts and, in so, are perceived as permanently slow
learners. I have effectively worked with students who are able to, through such process, improve
their grades and discover the joy of reading. Too many people are unable to hold words, in an
organized fashion, in their minds. They may see letters in reverse, parts of words, or their eyes
may inadvertently skip to a different sentence. Such visual skills are interrelated with verbal
processing. Such techniques allow students to develop a more robust or complete visual learning
process. Specific visual processing methods, which allow students to read in a way that is fluent
and with good comprehension, are integral components of my services.