I watched my stepson get left behind his peers because of a diagnosed learning disability. The school coded him in elementary school and provided extra help to complete his assignments. This tapered off as he progressed through the system, finally ending altogether in high school. A parent meeting was called because his teachers could see he was failing. His home-room teacher admitted that she hadn’t read his file because she didn’t want to pre-judge any of her students.
This is a noble sentiment, but misguided. The boy needed help and school was quickly becoming just a place where he had to spend time each day. He was bored and increasingly isolated. Any joy of learning was being leeched by frustration.I won’t go into the details, but he did finish high school. Unfortunately, the standard teaching practice for reading disabilities wasn’t particularly helpful for Tom. Everyone, including me, told him he just had to read more. But how does that help when sounding words out slows you down so much that you lose the meaning of the passage?
Tom entered adulthood with one goal: to stay out of school. He took jobs that required little reading and a lot of labor, including a stint in a rock crushing quarry. It was worrisome, but he had made it clear that further education was not in his plans so we left him to navigate his own way through adulthood.
A work accident brought him back to Calgary. Living with us meant another opportunity to try and figure out how to help him with reading. We both knew the same old approach wasn’t going to help, so I finally reached out to Vera and asked about her program.
Luckily Vera had just launched an introduction to her program on the web. Tom and I went through the modules and decided to give Vera’s system a try – it just made so much sense. Tom actually got excited about trying it so we picked out a book and began applying what we’d learned. My role was simple, just remind the reader what to look for and don’t let him struggle too long. Tom also began his list of unfamiliar words because part of being a successful reader is expanding your vocabulary to help with new material.
I saw improvement within two days. Tom was a little reluctant to admit things were better, but after a week he also had to admit that reading was much easier with Vera’s method. We are no longer having evening reading sessions. There is no need. Tom is reading regularly and tells me that he uses Vera’s method. I’ve also noticed that his written work has really improved.
Thank you, Vera, for taking the guesswork out of reading. I only wish we had come to you sooner.