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Overcoming Learning Problems in Children
A parent's story...
It became apparent to me that my son Sean had a learning disability while in the 2nd grade. He just couldn't keep up, and was falling far behind in reading, spelling, math, and he had problems paying attention. I later discovered the source of his learning disability, and I also found that a learning disability is really a learning problem and a child doesn't have to grow up to be illiterate.
Even though Sean was getting help in special ed. a couple hours a day it just didn't seem like that was going to be a solution. The rest of the regular class was still passing him up. I had also felt that my son was very intelligent. His learning problems didn't make sense to me because of his intelligence. He was an early talker, and at age 3 you could carry on a conversation with him that he would understand. My next idea was to home school, and Sean was very eager for me to do it. It wasn't an easy decision, but I took him out of public school in the middle of 2nd grade.
Once we were home schooling there was some relief because at least now there was no pressure to keep up with the class. Sean too felt better about himself because he wasn't being teased in class. One day we found an opportunity for a free eye exam for children who had learning difficulties from a local optometrist. Once we got the results of the test we found that although Sean had 20/20 vision he had a different kind of eye problem that can easily be overlooked. The problem had to do with how well his eyes worked together, and the more we learned it became apparent that Sean's eyes just didn't work well together. Especially the right eye, which I soon discovered he would briefly and quickly try to cover in order to read. Sean thought that seeing the way he did was normal because he never knew anything else. So we had Sean do vision therapy at their clinic, which is basically eye exercises. After 3 1/2 months of vision therapy, it seemed his eyes were fixed. I now believe that any child having difficulty in school should have more in-depth vision screening. Here is a web site that has more details about vision therapy: http://www.visiontherapy.org
Yet our problems were not over yet. He made a little progress in reading, but that was really all. I wondered why he couldn't progress now that his eyes were fixed. I didn't believe we did the wrong thing with vision therapy. He wasn't covering his right eye anymore, or favoring it, and he now could also copy from the white board (which he couldn't do before). It seemed that although he had good vision he just didn't know how to use it. Sean was frustrated too. He would say, "I'm just stupid!" I told him, "Never say that, if you were really stupid I would just give up, but have I given up?" "No!" he said.
One day I came across a program called Audiblox that said the reason why children were unable to learn to read or spell was not caused by a permanent disability, but simply because they didn't have the underlying skills that were needed in order to read, spell, etc. As I researched their site it mentioned that the Audiblox program builds the necessary skills to read, spell and do math. I began to think Sean's vision problems and inattentiveness in school caused him to never develop these skills. Their site talked a lot about visual memory and sequencing, which I knew were weaknesses for Sean. One day I posted a question to their site telling some background about Sean, asking if he would ever develop these skills on his own. The Audiblox people answered that it could be compared to someone who did not learn to speak properly due to incomplete hearing. If that person's hearing were later rectified, would he be able to speak normally without some intervention? This question made me realize Sean needed more help, and since the Audiblox kit was inexpensive (especially compared to vision therapy), I ordered the Audiblox kit and started on the program right away.
After six weeks the improvements were very obvious. The most noticeable improvement came with Math, because we were struggling trying to do his math at grade level (3rd grade), but then around six weeks into Audiblox he could do his math at grade level (with the exception of telling time on a face clock and counting money). He also still at this point had trouble doing adding and subtracting on the same page.
His reading speed had also improved and he wasn't getting stuck on nearly as many words. His free writing had always been totally unreadable, but now at least I could read his writing, even though it had many spelling errors. The neatness of his writing had improved. His attention span and length of time it took to do assignments improved too.
As we did Audiblox improvements continued. A major one I remember is that Sean had a problem with mixing up similar words (for ex. head, hand, had, there, three). At around six months of doing Audiblox Sean's mixing up of these words reduced greatly. Also at this point I noticed that when new Math concepts came along it was much easier for him to understand them. What used to take a week or two in explaining (if ever getting through at all), now only took one day.
Audiblox also helped me realize a major weakness Sean had in his long-term memory. He had a great long-term memory when it came to remembering people, places, events, etc. But when it came to remembering things in order, such as words for spelling, he basically had very little long-term memory. So I was given an exercise to work on him for that.
Now we are into the 9th month of doing Audiblox. Here are some more achievements:
He can finally tell time on face clock! Now it seems very easy for him. Another skill that used to be such confusion for him was counting money, but now he can. It seemed like he learned how to count by 5's and 10's by himself. He was very happy that he could finally count money. He can now also do adding and subtracting on the same page. Not only can he now do this with 2 or 3 digit numbers, but also with borrowing or carrying. He is doing all his Math at grade level now, and has half of his times tables memorized.
Sean's reading really leaped between the 7th and 8th month of Audiblox. I've noticed that for a while he was struggling with words that were more than two syllables, but something has clicked because he is picking up on these bigger words too. I have been able to get out books that I have always wanted to read together with him, but used to look at them and knew they were above his reading level and had to put them away. But now I have been able to get out those books and he can read them.Just one example: A long time ago I bought him a DK book on science that he really liked, mostly because of the nice pictures, but couldn't read. (This was before doing any Audiblox). But he liked to look at the pictures. The reading is probably high school level, but now we have been able to read it together. He can even figure out some of the really big words. Sean has been really surprised what he can read now.
He is also finally learning to spell. I had been trying to teach him to spell for a long time, but he would never remember how to spell the words. After a week or even less he would forget, but the Audiblox method of learning to spell is working for him.
Sean's favorite subject is science, so last year I bought him an electronic project kit. The only thing is that in order to make the projects work you have to do wiring. Sean found it so hard to do the wiring he mainly had me do most of it. Recently he was looking for something to do, so I got out this kit. To my surprise he could easily do the wiring himself.
Also another hobby of Sean's is collecting Lego Bionicles. I used to have to help him with these, and I have to admit they aren't easy to assemble. I pretty much built them as he watched. But over the time we have been doing Audiblox he can now build them all by himself.
Sean's self-esteem is much improved. He now realizes he can do things, such as reading and spelling. He never thought he could before. For the first time I am thinking that he is going to be just fine.
As I have seen in the news the search to find out what is wrong with our schools goes on and on. I just read recently there are 200 failing schools in Michigan, with thousands of kids not learning to read. A simple program such as Audiblox has changed the future for my son, and could for so many other children. The program can be done at home by parents, and also in school. I would like others to know that they don't have to watch children struggle and that they can do something about it.
Stock photo used.
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