Dr Brunetti describes the turnaround for her daughter Lily
When we started Easyread, Lily was 6 and a half and was really struggling with progressing with reading which was odd given she had managed the beginnings of phonics (in year R and 1) quite well. We practised reading every night and she would flip words and read high frequency words (she/ the/ he/ where/ what/ was) incorrectly and it was becoming very strained. We got to the point where she would cry and throw herself around when reading and I was feeling frustrated and anxious (my son found it easy to learn to read and so I had no reference point for this). Her teacher told us she was falling behind and I think started to think she was not very bright/ capable although she is an articulate child and this caused school confusion.
School tested her for dyslexia and the results showed that she was unlikely to have any specific learning difficulty and had good phonological awareness, scoring above average on cognitive indicess for her age. It was a mystery and her spelling/ writing was also really off (no consonants in words or very phonetic spellings that didn’t bear much resemblance to correct spellings).
In desperation, I turned to Google and found Easyread where the testimonies and explanation really seemed to strike a chord in terms of our struggle.
Lily really enjoyed the programme and getting to learn the characters and over time, our daily 10 minute slot became a platform for de-coupling the reading = distress/ something I can’t do experience. It did take until around session 60 or so for me to see we were turning a corner and around session 90 I could see we were really accelerating progress. We continued to session 150 to support spelling progress. In September when she started Year 3, Lily was reading at age 8.5 although her spelling was a bit under (age 5 and three quarters). Now we are 6 months post Easyread, there is a marked change in spelling (within her age band) and is improving all the time. She takes real enjoyment in reading paperbacks with a whole page of text (e.g. Horrid Henry/ Jaqueline Wilson) and feels capable and confident.
I was so concerned that whatever block was causing her difficulty would lead to a really negative impact on her education generally and had low confidence in the school being able to work out what was going on. I’m 99% confident that if it hadn’t been for the Easyread programme and all the associated measures and consultations (her eye movement speed was slow and so we did exercises on this with almost immediate improvement!), we would have got no further along and my fun-loving little girl would have developed into an anxious, sad child with a sense of incompetence and separation/ difference from others. It was going that way! I’m so full of gratitude that Easyread existed, that it was a package that so comprehensively looked at the blocks and had straightforward and manageable interventions to address them. Of course it takes time and effort (on the child’s and parent’s part) and persistence, after all, neuroplasticity needs repetition and rehearsal to change learnt patterns at a neurological level, but if I had left intervention until later, I’m sure we wouldn’t have seen progress so readily and there would have been real suffering in the meantime. I am a clinical psychologist and I have seen many clients over the years who have developed really problematic emotional/ behavioural patterns following on from experiences where they struggled with learning at school and the confusion in terms of self-identity this has created when they are bright but have not reached their educational potential as well as the emotional sequelae of anxiety, low mood and the sense of isolation of being taken out of lessons/ not feeling part of the class and worse…
I am a sceptic usually and want there to be evidence before I pay money into something. The Randomised Controlled Trial gave me a vote of confidence from the outset (it is the pinnacle of good research after all) and I have spread the word to many following on from our positive experience and the change it has undoubtedly provided for Lily’s learning trajectory and sense of self.
So, if you are reading this and are unsure whether to commit to it, I hope this supports you going forwards and having confidence in this system to really help change things for your child (and family because an unhappy, unfulfilled child really doesn’t a happy family make!)
Thanks David and Sarah for your input, it really was a transformative process!
Dr Antonella Brunetti