Does your son or daughter fidget in his or her seat, or have trouble concentrating, or blurt out answers before a question is fully asked?

If so, he or she may be suffering from diagnosed or undiagnosed disabilities or disorders that include dyslexia, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), auditory processing disorders and autism spectrum disorders.

Rather than call them disorders or disabilities, however, Jill Stowell, a former special needs teacher who founded Stowell Learning Center in 1984 with her husband David, labels these various conditions learning and attention “challenges.”

“So many parents, when their kids are failing in school, they worry if they’re going to be productive adults,” Stowell said in a recent interview. “Our kids have gone on to be doctors, pharmacists, teachers and lawyers. It’s amazing.”

From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday Aug. 17, Stowell Learning Center is presenting a workshop called “Two Hours to a Better School Year.”

Among the subjects being discussed at the session are strategies for managing learning routines, preparing for parent-teacher conferences, studying for tests, understanding and solving problems, eliminating homework battles and improving nutrition.

The recently opened learning center is located at 572 E. Green St., Suite 200, Pasadena. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (, ADHD is “one of the most common neurological disorders of childhood” and estimates that in 2016 over 6 million children were diagnosed with ADHD symptoms. This figure is slightly lower than the previous study’s figures in 2011.

The somewhat bad news is that ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. Although its symptoms begin in childhood, they can continue through adolescence and into adulthood.

A variety of remedies can improve the lives of students with ADHD. A diet high in Omega 3, for instance, and other holistic choices work wonders for some, while a more hands-on approach is better suited for others. Some research shows that yoga and breathing exercises also help.

It was once believed that the only thing that could help with ADHD was medication, most famously Ritalin, also known by its generic name, methylphenidate. Taken two or three times a day, Ritalin, a stimulant, can help increase a child or adult’s ability to pay attention, stay focused on an activity, and control behavioral problems. It may also increase one’s ability to organize tasks and improve listening skills.

For some parents, Ritalin is an answer to a prayer. But for others it is another medication that must be taken regularly, perhaps even for the rest of one’s life. While the up side in the short term may be better grades, the down sides may mean bouts with depression, mood changes and suicidal thoughts. It may even lead to addiction.

“While there are no simple, overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through developing the weak underlying skills and remediating the affected academic areas,” Stowell, author of the free book “At Wit’s End: A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities,” recently told the Pasadena Star-News The book is available on or at

“We really are on a mission to get this out there, because typically if you are struggling in school with a learning disability, dyslexia or attention challenges, and you haven’t been diagnosed, it’s just assumed that you’re going to have to live with it and try harder,” Stowell told this reporter.

“We have helped over 5,000 students and their families overcome the devastation of learning problems. Our students have gone from special education to graduation with honors, to college, and many even have masters and doctorate degrees,” Stowell said. “We help children and adults permanently correct learning challenges.” 

To make reservations for the Aug. 17 workshop, call (877) 774-0444, or visit