An inability to function socially or emotionally is as much of a learning disability as the inability to read, says acclaimed child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene.


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He speaks at seminars on treating behaviour problems and explosive outbursts. “The tragedy of our time,” he says, is that few recognize and treat explosive, noncompliant behaviour as evidence of a learning disability. And so, these youth worsen rather than improve. Categorized as manipulative, unmotivated attention-seekers, they do not receive help. Withdrawal of attention, punitive actions, and rewards and consequences often further impair their lives.

In the past, students with reading problems were considered lazy or stupid. They are not regarded this way anymore and they receive the help that they need. Greene predicts that students who have difficulty being flexible and tolerating frustration will eventually be perceived in a new way by educators and the rest of society. These students, who often act explosively due to a brain deficit, will finally be recognized as learning disabled and will get assistance.


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For Greene, who lectures and writes on the subject and who founded the Collaborative Problem Solving Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, help can’t come too soon. As Greene has seen, application of his philosophy and approach has dramatically affected those to whom it has been applied, including juvenile offenders in the State of Maine. Their rates of recidivism plunged significantly in response to Greene’s philosophy and approach.