Katherine Abadilla
Program Leader

Nicholas’ parents had initially brought him to The Essential Learning Group because they had concerns about his reading proficiency. When he began at an international school, his teachers reported significant difficulty tracking letters and forming sounds from them. His teachers recommended that he see us for an assessment. The assessment results showed dyslexia and significant difficulties managing his behavior and sustaining focus.

Nicholas was a very bright young boy, his dyslexia came as a surprise to his family. They had read to him regularly from very early on, and he had been engaged in the stories. He had asked questions and made observations. By the time he began at primary school, he could open a familiar book and tell his parents the story back, word for word. In fact, he had memorized the stories as his parents had told them, and used the pictures and the text to guide his recollection. He could recognize the words of a particular book on sight, but could not decode the words into sounds and assemble the sounds into meaning.

By offering concrete incentives and by tracking his progress in a visible way, we helped him to stretch his capacity for focus. We used achievable goals and clear outcomes to help him along. “You can earn this sticker by sitting still for one minute.” We found ways to incorporate our methods into his home life in order to help him. His parents knew that he was very intelligent, and that something was interfering with the progress he should have been making. Challenges for focusing and for finishing work were not only for the classroom. We stayed in regular communication and applied the same techniques in both places.

We celebrated the first time Nicholas dressed himself without supervision. His mother called me later that day to share her excitement. “I asked him to go upstairs and get dressed for school, and before I could even make it up to check on him, he came down, dressed and ready to go!” This was proof that Nicholas was beginning to cope with the demands of daily life, in and out of school. If he could dress himself without direction that day, he could do it again the next day. Years from then, he could be finishing his homework consistently. The wonderful possibilities available to him were becoming clear to all of us.

Nicholas’ progress in focus and executive functioning cleared the way for rapid progress in reading. Once he was ready to begin, he made rapid progress. When his grandmother visited, she was delighted by the difference in what she could see. As time went on, he grew in confidence and improved in the skill areas he needed to make the transition back into an international school. He still has learning disabilities, but after his time at The Essential Learning Group, he is prepared to move on and to cope.

Nicholas recently stopped by for a visit, and I could not be more thrilled by his progress. When he joined us, he was reading at a Kindergarten level. Now, approximately one year later, he is moving up to the third grade! Better than some of his class friends. It feels so good for me as a program leader to have the opportunity to make changes in children life’s. I’m so proud of him!

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