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The Problem

The story of Doresa and her three children’s struggles with learning to read began three years ago, when Javon was in Kindergarten and the twins Jordan and Makaila were in a private preschool.

Doresa and her husband were a little worried about Javon’s reading because he just seemed so inconsistent whenever he tried to decode words with them at home. As such they approached his teacher, who was frankly shocked by their suggestion that he had problems learning to read. Far from behind, she told them how Javon was actually the best reader in the class!

So why the problems with reading books at home? Well, fairly soon Doresa realised that the reason for the apparent contrast between her son’s baseline ability with individual words and his aptitude for devouring entire books at school, was that he was a highly gifted sight reader.  His intelligence was in no doubt, having been tested as being in the 99.8th percentile for intelligence. For that reason, he had discovered that there was no need to read using the phonetic structure; he could simply sight-memorize the text, and did this so effectively that the teachers never caught on.  At home meanwhile, where Javon didn’t have his throng of well-memorized books to hand, he could be seen making mistakes on even the simplest of words. Any given page was peppered with surprising mistakes.

Having made this discovery, Doresa took her Javon to see a psychologist who worked with gifted children. They confirmed not just a reading issue, but one of the most severe cases of dyslexia they had ever encountered. It was exactly because of his exceptionally high IQ that he still appeared to be reading above grade level.

Frankly, Doresa was unsure of what she should do next. It was a very strange position to be in, especially given that the school flat-out refused to give credence to her suggestions that he was unable to decode, even after they had the report from the psychologist.

Finally she made the decision to quit her job and homeschool Javon. That way she could ensure that he received the proper reading foundation he needed to be able to really progress. Doresa’s hope was that this was the start of a new and exciting change in the way Javon understood and processed written language…but unfortunately this could not have been further from the truth.

They had Javon tested again after twelve months and the results showed that despite Doresa’s very best personal efforts, he was reading only five additional words out of context compared with a year ago. A skilled sight reader he may be, but there was now no hiding from the fact that Javon was on a reading plateau. Doresa also decided to have the twins tested. They too were profoundly gifted (99.7th and 98th percentile), and also showing signs of dyslexia.

So, in an effort to pinpoint the issue, all three children had their eyes tested. The testing revealed them as having some tracking and convergence issues and so they subsequently underwent a year of vision therapy. However, while the vision issues improved, the reading did not. Feeling a bit deflated yet determined, Doresa’s quest to help her children continued.

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From then on, the list of tried and tested interventions started to get ludicrously extensive! Reading Horizons, StarFall, Bob Books, All About Spelling, and lots of Scholastic worksheets… Javon would do the work without complaint, but aside from photographically memorizing pages at a time and therefore appearing to digest the material well, in her heart Doresa knew that he just wasn’t moving forward.

The Solution

When Doresa first stumbled across Easyread she instantly knew it would be perfect for one of her children in particular, Jordan, who was the least confident academically of all the kids. He was intensely frustrated and confused by all the different reading platforms they were trying to work through. For that reason, the idea of a game based system was something she thought would suit him very well indeed. The fact that the system had a focus on eye-tracking, and that the sessions were so short, were also excellent incentives for signing up her youngest son.

What’s more, while the cost of the program seemed high initially, compared to the $150 an hour Doresa was paying to have a certified reading tutor (who had been in place for quite some time and was yet to yield any positive change) this approach was ultimately much more reasonable. After watching her twin on the program on his first day, Makaila asked if she could start it too. Two days after that, Javon wanted to join his younger siblings, and so before they knew it they were all on board!

Everything about Easyread suited Doresa’s three very different but similarly bright children: the gentle approach,  the fun yet challenging games, David’s gentle words coaxing the children to stop for the day and try again tomorrow when they get stuck in was especially for Jordan, the least confident of the children. The fact that not all of the words are “easy” in the lessons was hugely beneficial too. Javon, Jordan and Makaila could easily fake their way through words like “hat, sat, bat, mat”, which had tended to be the focus of other programs they had tried. However they couldn’t do that when being confronted by words that were new to them.  The continued assessments allowed them to all clearly track their progress too, which was very useful. Doresa by this point had spent so much time and money on programs that appeared to be working because the kids were chomping through the material, but without some kind of formal assessment it was close to impossible to know for sure. Where Easyread was concerned, she was able to clearly map her children’s decoding ability as it flourished. And flourish it certainly did…

The Results

Mikaila, Jordan and Javon’s desire to read and confidence has experienced a drastic leap. Indeed Javon, the eldest, will now read to his younger siblings. Mikaila meanwhile has discovered that she loves reading books and writing stories. The biggest change for Javon is that he now not only enjoys decoding words, but has also started to write as well! This is a child that would never, ever write without being prodded to in the past. And yet now he will just pick up a pen and piece of paper and go for it.

Happily the three children have consulted one another and decided on what they would like their reward to be for finishing Easyread…space camp! They fully understand that this is a high pressure reading environment where every child is assigned a “job”, and that reading will be a part of every job. They will have to read publicly so that all team members can complete various phases of the mission.  Aside from all being great space enthusiasts, it seemed to be a great fit with the “Agent” theme of Easyread and as such Doresa gladly agreed to this prize.

And guess what – even with the cost of Easyread and Space Camp – it is still cheaper than what the family would have spent hiring a private tutor to work with each child weekly! They are all reading and writing so much better than before they started, and the twins are working at decoding even the most challenging of words. They no longer shy away from reading challenges, but embrace them as they know every success they have in reading gets them closer to the ultimate Space Camp goal.

These three children defy the stereotype that dyslexia is a learning disability, since it is their very intelligence that led them to sight-read words in the first place. So with that in mind, where to next? Well 8 year old Javon is currently reading chapter books that are written for young teens, and meanwhile the twins are growing in confidence and ability every day that they are on the Easyread course. For these three little astronauts, the sky really is the limit!