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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Success in Learning for All Students

Oct 01, 2015 10:39PM
A Spotlight on Empowered Learning Transformation Center
Tucked off Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, Peter Riddle and his team at the Empowered Learning Transformation Center (ELTC) are helping hundreds of children of all ages and abilities, as well as adults, overcome learning challenges using ground-breaking and highly successful techniques developed over the past 30 plus years. Riddle a Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner and with his co-founder, Dr. Richard Reutter, a nationally known developmental pediatrician, developed tests to understand the challenges faced by all types of learners as well as the training programs used to overcome sensory-motor and visual processing obstacles.

ELTC goes well beyond tutoring by discovering the foundational issues that impair a person’s capacity to learn effectively and efficiently. Thus, ELTC is a haven for children who struggle with ADHD as well as good students, who are faced with hours of homework each night. Hundreds of children labeled as ADHD have been able to go off their medication when the root cause of their problems was identified. College-bound students who regularly would take five hours for homework each night have been able to drastically cut the time needed for this evening ritual after learning which pieces of the physiological puzzle had to be exercised to overcome their brain inefficiencies.

The empowered learning paradigm employed at the center is designed to uncover foundational challenges to learning. At the base level, students are evaluated as to their capacity for sensory-motor learning. For example, a small red ball on a wand measures eye convergence, which is the ability to bring the eyes together and hold them, as an indication of the capacity of the person to focus.

Riddle’s insights into convergence came from his own experience as a young student who needed to take long breaks when reading his school material. He had been diagnosed with “wall eye”, where one of his eyes would drift off to the side. With the help of a developmental optometrist and two years of exercises, Riddle trained his eyes to hold the focus without the need to take breaks.

Physical balance is an indication of a student’s ability to focus and is also measured in the initial screening. The inability to stand on one leg for at least 10 seconds with eyes shut is an indication of inefficiency in the brain and how it processes information.

In additional to the space for testing and a computer lab, the center offers a gym where controlled chaos provides an environment where students (and adults) conduct exercises that enable them to maintain focus and find success while working sensory motor skills and vision at the same time. As many students are in the gym at the same time, the possibilities for distraction is great—which is the point. In the classroom or in the office, there is almost always something to distract. The goal of the gym is to develop the skills needed to perform an exercise in the midst of distractions, so that when the student is required to sit in the classroom, distractions can be avoided and learning can take place.

Likewise, the team at ELTC works with students and adults to develop cognitive skills and teaches learning strategies, such as chunking. Within the first session with Riddle, students walk away with the capacity to spell a 29-letter word – both forward and backward. Everything can be learned when it is broken down into smaller parts. With that strategy learned, students gain confidence to succeed at the center, which translates to success in the classroom and home.

Riddle and Reutter, who are joined in the Bethesda location by clinical psychologist Dr. Herb Bilick, offer an innovative and highly successful program for self-development for students, but also work with families to incorporate the exercises into the home. Lowering the stress level within the family is an important component to changing the dynamic. The brain of a student who is under stress, quite possibility from parental pressure, is distracted as “fight or flight” overtakes the student’s brain capacity to focus on the work at hand. Parents, who are permitted to witness the initial testing, gain understanding of the challenges facing their child and get to see the exercises to overcome them.

For more information about Empowered Learning Transformation Center, visit


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