08 June 2017
As told to Sara Schwartz:
“Mrs. Levy I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but all the signs point to a severe learning disability. Yoni’s reading and spelling abilities are significantly below average. I would recommend arranging a tutor as soon as possible,” said Mrs. Bloom, my son’s second-grade teacher.
“How can that be?” I replied. “He’s young and it’s all so new, of course he’s finding it difficult; surely the other boys in the class are struggling as well.” Mrs. Bloom shook her head, “By second grade the boys have already been reading and writing for two years. Most of the other boys in the class have caught on just fine, but Yoni is finding it all really difficult.”
I’ll never forget that conversation; it’s etched in my mind forever. When I think back to that day, I get chills down my spine. That simple exchange snowballed into years of tutoring sessions, failing grades, and tears. “Yoni can’t even keep his eyes on the right spot, he keeps skipping words and lines,” said one tutor. “Yoni’s reading fluency is terrible. He reads painfully slow and keeps mixing up similar letters and numbers, like B and D,” said another tutor. After five years of tutoring we’d invested so much time and money but Yoni seemed to make little progress. His grades were getting worse. He could barely read the questions on his exams, and forget about comprehension tests.
Then one day I bumped into a friend of mine. “How’s Yoni?” she asked, knowing that he’d been having trouble. “Quite frankly tutoring is getting us nowhere,” I responded. “I’m not sure where else to turn.” “You know what, I’ve seen quite a few advertisements for Neurolinks, a program that claims to cure reading issues and learning disabilities,” she said. “My husband recently mentioned that a number of his students have participated in the program and the results were unbelievable. Perhaps it’s worth giving them a call?” I’d seen the ads as well, but never thought they pertained to me. Realizing that I had nothing to lose, I gave them a call.
At the conclusion of the evaluation, Mrs. Yehudis Klein of Neurolinks Brooklyn explained: “Yoni’s learning difficulties stem from a few processes that his brain is having trouble with: motor match, when both the brain and body are able to respond within a given timeframe, and when weak can result in poor reading fluency. Tracking, the ability to focus and respond sequentially, which when lacking can result in poor reading and the skipping of words and lines when reading a paragraph; and directional discrimination, the ability to distinguish opposite orientation without relying on visual cues. When this process is weak a person might be unable to differentiate between similar characters with opposite orientation and they may flip over letters, numbers, and symbols, for example, mixing up a gimmel and a zayin.” Finally everything made sense, if Mrs. Klein could rewire Yoni’s brain so that he no longer suffered from poor brain processing in these areas; he’d be cured of his learning disabilities. I was so impressed; I signed Yoni up that day.
The next six months were extremely intense. Each Monday Yoni would attend a session at the Neurolinks office, and then four days a week we’d work on exercises at home. First Yoni struggled to read 7 words in 20 seconds, but after a mere three weeks he was averaging 20 words in 20 seconds. When Yoni started curling up on the couch with a book when he was supposed to be clearing the table or doing his homework, I knew we were onto something. It’s now been a year since Yoni completed the program, and not only has his reading and spelling improved but his confidence has skyrocketed and he’s able to concentrate and focus better in the classroom as well. Oh, and he has now rightfully earned the title as the family bookworm!