“During the summer holidays this year, we decided to arrange for Sammy to meet up with a Speech Therapist in France and Caroline Hurst a Behavioural Optometrist working in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.
Both meetings confirmed that Sammy has some measurable difficulties with reading and spelling but reassured us that we were on the right track trying to help him with the use of a private tutor and signing up for Easyread, however, it also showed we needed some additional specialist help.
Sammy met with the Speech Therapist in early August and her findings were emailed to us in a report a week before we were due to meet Caroline. She concluded Sammy needed further assessments with an Educational Psychologist and a Neurologist (standard practice in France) to compile a ‘Bilan de Lange’ (or language assessment) and to confirm what she suspected to be both dyslexia and dysgraphia. Indeed, her testing showed Sammy exhibited difficulties in several areas, although from my understanding the test is specifically designed for French children, and is not so successful at measuring bilingual children.
A few days later we met with Caroline Hurst, http://www.candahurstopticians.co.uk as you had already identified Sammy had some eye-tracking difficulties that we felt needed further investigation. Yet, we were not sure what to expect from our appointment… from the beginning it was clear this was a very different eye examination to anything we had attended before! It started with a Q&A session, followed by very comprehensive testing that lasted for over an hour, after which we were moved to another room where much to our surprise, Caroline asked Sammy to perform some exercises, that included hopping, skipping, commando-style crawling, balancing etc. She explained that probably as a consequence of Sammy walking early and by-passing much of the important crawling phase, he had inadvertently missed some essential developmental steps. She tested for five primary reflexes (Moro, Tonic Labyrinth Reflex (TLR), Spinal Galant (SG), Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR), and Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)) noting that the presence of TLR, STNR and Moro reflexes were still very apparent, which she strongly believed had greatly affected his learning of gross and fine motor skills, crucial to visual development.
We were assured that by completing a course of Ocular Vision Therapy (OVT), Sammy would almost certainly begin to perform better at school and resolve his reading difficulties. We were given literature and Sammy was shown exercises he needed to complete everyday. We were given a diary to keep track of his progress and we made an appointment to connect on Skype so Caroline could conduct a progress evaluation one month later. In addition, she also prescribed bi-focal glasses for Sammy to be worn for reading, writing, board work and whilst watching T.V. or working on his computer.
Elation, confusion, shock, scepticism and guilt were just some of the emotions we experienced during the two hour drive back to our home in Suffolk. Could walking early really be at the root of all Sammy’s problems?
Three days later Sammy received his new glasses which he found challenging to wear at first, but has now adapted to very well and seems to love his new ‘intellectual’ image!
It has been over three months and Sammy’s progress has been impressive; his confidence has grown, he no longer yawns constantly when asked to read, his attention span, focus, comprehension and memory have dramatically improved, meaning he no longer follows the repetitive rhythm of learning, forgetting and repeating his lessons. His marks have improved in recitation and dictation, as well as mental arithmetic, (despite being good at maths he could never recite his times tables, he would learn them and then forget almost immediately!) so, it is amazing to us he has committed most of them to memory, and finally this week, to my delight he has read his first ‘proper’ book in English from cover to cover, albeit with a few pronunciation errors!
Of course this is only the beginning and we all have some work to do before Sammy can comfortably manage the CM2 programme of CNED (distance learning programme based on the French national curriculum) and work more autonomously in both French and English, but hopefully with the love and encouragement of family, the support of his tutor and the Easyread team, plus Caroline Hurst’s monthly progress assessments via Skype and another follow-up session in December when we are back in the UK, we are optimistic Sammy’s confidence and performance will continue to develop.
Please feel free to share our story with any of the Easyread users if it is in anyway useful.”