The World Opens Up to a Cognitively Disabled High School Student

by Brandie Genske

A cognitively disabled high school student is reading at the first grade level.

For Sarah, an 18-year-old severely cognitively impaired high school student, even trying to read was painful and something she hated to do. In fact, again and again she refused to read. No wonder, Sarah was reading at a first grade level and there had never been any positive associations with reading throughout her entire school experience.

When Sarah’s regular teacher in her CD program left for 15 weeks of maternity leave, district Special Education and program support teacher Brandie Genske stepped in to take over the class.  Genske put Sarah on a daily 30- minute routine with MindPlay and the girl was soon making real progress in her reading skills. It was the first time Sarah could see the connection between reading practice and personal success.

“Every day Sarah would come to my office to learn about the latest data involving her growth in reading,” says Genske. “She was excited about the strides she was making, and she never missed a day. She was experiencing a success she had never known before.”

Working online with MindPlay was a reward and a motivation for Sarah. Genske also supported her progress with MindPlay by working with her offline, teaching her how to read with inflection and building her confidence.

Once Genske’s tenure was up, Sarah continued her work with MindPlay under her regular teacher. In one and a half school years, Sarah  improved seven grade levels in reading. She has read 346 stories and gained 118 words per minute.  She currently reads 178 words per minute with good comprehension.  Says Genske,She loves earning trophies, and her success in reading has boosted her self-esteem incalculably.”

 These days, Sarah has a new love for books and reading. She has graduated high school and spends a lot of time in the library, even doing volunteer work there. Sarah will never live completely on her own, never become a sophisticated reader, but now she has the skills to read the daily newspaper, to read directions and signs and other things she needs to participate in life as a member of society and a valued citizen says Genske.

“It opens up a whole new life when you can read and understand the world around you,” says Genske. “Through MindPlay, Sarah has been able to elevate the quality of her life and gain a fighting chance at the most independence she can ever achieve.”