Aaron Conner: 11 year old Fourth grade IEP student; triple-deficit dyslexia; auditory processing and severe attention and focusing challenges.
This article is based on an interview with his mother, Lisa Conner—Anchorage, Alaska.
Aaron’s teachers continually told him that if he just worked harder, he would be able to read. In five and one/half years of schooling plus two years of Montessori pre-school, he was still reading at the kindergarten level although he is very intelligent and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. In the spring of 2014, Aaron was tested by Posie Boggs, a reading and dyslexia specialist, who introduced us to MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach. In October, 2014, I began home schooling him; and in November, he started using MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach. It has become his primary reading program.
From November 25, 2014, to February 2, 2015, (minus a two week holiday break), Aaron worked on MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach. During this period of time he gained 54 words per minute and was reading at the second grade level. His listening vocabulary went from 8 th grade to 9th grade. Posie Boggs confirmed his gains.
Getting Started Had Its Challenges
Initially, Aaron did not want to work on MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach and refused to look at it. We just sat in front of the program and talked. I removed the stress of learning and created a positive, safe environment.
I slowly introduced MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach for 15 minutes a day. At first he got angry, cried, refused to do it or left the room. I worried about how I could get him to enjoy learning. Once he began working, we stuck with it five days a week and quickly moved from 15 to 30 minutes. He liked working with a timer; it budgeted his time and kept him focused and engaged because he knew there was an end to it. We had a rule: During the 30 minute timed sessions, there could be no distraction. Afterwards, he could have a break.
We work on MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach the first thing every morning. When he realized that his resistance was not going to get anywhere with me, he just started doing it. The program itself is hard to trick, and he has tried everything to outsmart it.
He became excited when he checked his stats and saw that he was learning. We celebrate his milestones and keep a copy of the progress reports and certificates in a binder. Watching a documentary is his reward at the end of a productive day, which includes writing in his journal. Now MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach has become a habit he does five days a week.
Learning to Read is Changing Aaron and His Life
When we realized that he moved to a second grade reading level, we both cried. He said, “Oh my gosh, learning has been so hard. I can’t believe I have done this.” He was so proud. Everything in his life has been difficult because of his learning challenges. People told us his attitude was the reason he could not read instead of seeing it as the symptom of a problem. He would say, “Mom, there is something wrong with my brain. It is not that I do not want to learn; I can’t.”
MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach is the most difficult learning program for him. When he sees improvement on this difficult task, he is a different person: He is brilliant and curious. He can talk to any grownup, and they are baffled when they hear about his reading challenges. He is getting content by my reading to him, using assistive technology with Google, listening to audio books, watching documentaries and asking thousands of questions.
Aaron knows that reading is going to be a lifelong challenge, but it will get easier. He knows that we will be doing school work year round. During the Christmas two week break, he regressed. The way his brain works, he needs the repetition every day. The longest he can take off is two days. He is on board with that because he realizes how hard he works and how quickly he can lose it.
He got excited when he realized that success with MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach equals success in business. Aaron listens to me running my real estate business and has come to understand that his strength is talking to others and strategizing. We started a business for him, SnoGoSnacks.com, and this was a defining moment in his life. He has a logo, business cards, website, product line and a business plan. After we work on MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach, we work on his business. I have tapped into something that is effortless, exciting and fun for him.
Aaron is making huge strides in spite of his challenges, and he wants other struggling learners to know that if he can do it, they can too!