Letter to the Alison Lawson Clinic
Although words cannot express how grateful I am, I would like to say a big thank-you to both Maria and Mrs. Lawson for their dedication and professionalism when working with my son throughout the 10 week program.
I have been a teacher for 16 years and have been ‘trained’ to teach young children how to read, write and decode language. When my beautiful son started school in 2014, I began to notice that he struggled to retain his sounds, simple sight words and found reading difficult. His teacher spoke with me and she too had noticed some ‘odd’ behaviours. She made the comment ‘I am baffled’.
I began my journey with my son to find out what was happening and how I could assist him. I took him for a full language assessment. He was able to perform all these assessments with ease. The assessor also used the word ‘baffled’. He then went for some OT sessions, which he was referred off as, the OT felt he was fine, again I heard the word ‘baffling’. He went to the Children’s Hospital to get his hearing checked, it came back with some minimal hearing loss but the report stated it would not affect his hearing of sounds. I then found a behavioural optometrist, who prescribed glasses to help him focus when reading, although his vision was within the normal range. We also experimented with coloured lenses, to no avail.
Although he did meet the benchmarks for Kindergarten, his self-esteem was beginning to plummet and as Year One began he became more and more aware that he struggled and couldn’t remember words, even if they were repeated through a book. He didn’t want to read at home, hated completing any written task and would constantly say things like, ‘I’m dumb, I’m stupid, everyone else is moving up and I’m not’. It broke my heart. As an educator, my own feelings of inadequacy began to surface. I mean, I am an experienced teacher, who has always keep up to date with literacy techniques and could not even help my own child.
The breaking point came when his Year One teacher called me in for a meeting. She expressed her concerns about his progress and felt that ‘something was just not clicking’. I walked away and felt that term ‘baffled’ creeping into my mind again.
I researched everything I could on dyslexia (although he has never been officially diagnosed), along with anything else I could read about struggling readers and retaining information. I looked up places I could contact. I rang brain phsychologists, behavioural physchologists, universities and the list goes on. Everyone I spoke with told me that ‘early intervention was the key to his successes, but not one of those professionals could tell me, help me or even point me in the right direction to where to access help for my son.
I booked another optometrist appointment and discussed all these issues. I felt I just wanted someone to listen, to understand that there are children that don’t fit the ‘mould’ and my frustration at not being able to access help for my son. He gave me a pamphlet on the Alison Lawson Clinic-LASD. I took this home and read it. I then made a phone call and spoke to Maria, who answered all my questions and suggested I bring my son up to Moss Vale for an assessment. With nothing else to lose, I did.
After the assessment, I was told the 10 week program would be able to help my son. If I am completely honest, I was sceptical, as I had hit so many brick-walls on my quest to help him. We organised our sessions and my husband and I decided that if we were going to do this, 100% commitment was what we would do.
So our Moss Vale journey began! I watched week after week as Maria and Mrs. Lawson work with my son. We completed tasks at home each and every-day, even weekends and we worked as a team. After about 4 weeks my son’s teacher made comment that he was improving in concentration, reading and spelling. I too noticed progress, with his retention and reading. Half way through he had moved up 2 reading levels and was becoming more confident to complete tasks. I hadn’t heard him say once ‘I’m stupid’. I was so happy to see him feel better about participating in literacy tasks.
The last week came around quickly and again my son went through the assessment process. He had made remarkable improvement in all areas. He felt proud and I was amazed at not only his progress but the change in him at how he viewed himself. My son had gone up 5 reading levels in 10 weeks! As a teacher this is rare!
As the weeks have passed since, my son has continued making progress, going up another reading level, already reaching the end on Year One reading benchmark. He has gone from struggling to write a sentence, to writing a page, using a number of spelling skills to help him. He is now reading simple chapter books, enjoys snuggling up and reading each night.
We now have a confident, happy child, whose whole attitude toward school and literacy tasks is positive! I am so proud of him and his commitment to this, as he worked with us (even on weekends) to improve!
I have also learnt so much about myself, my teaching and children through my son, this program and these committed professionals, whose sole purpose is to help children who are not fitting the ‘mould’. They worked with him and with me tirelessly and celebrated his successes with us.
I recommend the Alison Lawson Clinic to anyone! They are fabulous!