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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Daughter's Reading Disability Diagnosed and Cured

Daughter's Reading Disability Diagnosed and Cured

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My family traveled a very long road before finding out about SOI in 1982. As a nine year old in the fourth grade, our daughter had not yet learned to read. We had exhausted the medical community (we thought) and her school was perplexed and at times agitated with our daughter or with us.

The SOI program gave us the solutions that resulted in her ultimate success in reading, in her education, and in finding her self-esteem and confidence. Her avid love of animals sustained her through those really difficult years of school failure. A teacher friend of ours once asked her what reading group she was in. At nine she answered, “The eagle group. I can’t read and the eagle flies alone.”

Simply stated, we all missed the problem. The SOI assessment did not. Could a three-hour assessment of learning abilities give us the answer we had been searching for over a four-year span of time? Indeed. We learned a profound fact that had not been mentioned by anyone attempting to help us. Our daughter had 20/20 acuity but her two eyes did not work together. She knew the letters and the sounds, but could not keep her eyes tracking on the page she was trying to read, write, or calculate.

We were referred to a developmental optometrist for help; our next shock was listening to our daughter describe to the doctor what happened to the letters when she tried to read. They just would not stay still. We were stunned! No one, including us, had thought to ask her. On that day my life turned to SOI.

Soon after this experience, SOI created Integrated Practice Protocol (IPP). This is one of the SOI managed programs that is implemented in schools of all grade levels and in learning centers. It addresses SOI learning abilities, visual and auditory processing, and sensory motor development for coordination and concentration.

IPP would have discovered our daughter’s problem in kindergarten. I never forget that fact. This program is not a lightening bolt of immediate learning recovery. Small steps and gains are made each day. Students are required to use self-discipline and precision in completing all exercises and assignments. The feeling of accomplishment is why students gain confidence in the experience of the IPP Lab. Their challenge is to learn to apply that same discipline in other settings.

These areas of improvement are often noticed first:

- behavior
- a more positive attitude
- fewer disagreements with peers
- improved listening skills
- improved ability to focus at near point for longer periods of time
- an increase in learning stamina
- improved reading ability with fewer mistakes when reading out loud
- improvement in handwriting
- more organized
- being an easier student to have in class
- more smiles from the student

Over the last twenty years of implementing SOI/IPP into schools and clinics, my respect for the impact of this intervention has only become more solid. Every person trained in SOI understands the connection between reading and visual processing abilities. They also understand the importance of encouraging students who struggle by recognizing small steps of improvement. If our daughter had to suffer the experience of learning failure for so many years, couldn’t we, as parents, find it in ourselves to demonstrate patience in the speed of her learning recovery? Our kind words mended the angry words she spoke about herself.

Because of our knowledge about visual processing problems, our granddaughter, who was challenged with the same visual difficulties as our daughter, will never need to walk the path of her mother. She received the help necessary prior to starting kindergarten. This becomes just one more amazing gift granted to our family through the brilliance of SOI and the passion of Dr. Mary and Dr. Robert Meeker.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

Thanks for the detailed post. I'm curious, when your daughter was struggling what did her writing look like? Was the content way above her spelling skill?

What really resonates with me is the fact that all students who struggle, especially in reading and writing, need to be reassured that those little successes are what's really important. A good book on writing by Ralph Fletcher (What a Writer Needs) emphasizes the important of teachers pointing out the little steps that writers make when improving their writing.


Diane Hochstein's picture

Gaetan, my daughters struggles with writing were in part due to the challenges of not being able to focus on what she was writing. This carried over into not being able to keep her numbers in order when doing arithmetic. The numbers would drift to the right. Her ideas with writing were good but she would keep her stories very brief due to the handwriting challenge and her spelling weaknesses. She never saw a word the same way it seemed. By 6th grade, with nothing extra being done in school, but much being done in SOI and through eye exercises, she was at grade level in reading. Handwriting improved greatly as did her willingness to write.

Not to over dramatize, but celebrating small steps was ESSENTIAL. I live by the quote, "It is easier to build children than mend adults." This was a child in need of mending and it needed to start with the truth of her learning challenge. The SOI identified that truth.

Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

Thank you again for sharing your story. I've had a few students just like your daughter, just not as severe. It's good to know about the SOI and its benefits. I hope your message can reach as many people as possible. Edutopia has many readers so this is a great place to share your success.


Diane Hochstein's picture

Gaetan, I am sure your struggling students are supported by you with care and respect. I have come to ask children many questions. I cannot see what they see, or hear what they hear, and before opinions are formed or decisions made regarding the learning challenges of students, I ask that they play the game of, "Tell me if I am right or not right." I would ask what they see when they focus on words on the page? I ask if the words move, if they read the same line again without dropping to the next line? I ask if they skip over small words or leave endings off of words? I will have them trace over lines that I have scribbled on a piece of paper to see if they can use their eyes together in order to stay on the line. Tracing reveals so much information. Again, testing reveals what has not been learned and questions such as this are often an important part of the learning truth as to why. This is only a small view of learning challenges, but it is more common than you can imagine. Thank you. Diane Hochstein

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