When 9 year old Isaac showed up with his mother at the Make Learning Easy clinic in the autumn of 2016 Isaac’s family had all but given up hope that their son would get the help he needed. This boy had displayed learning difficulties from a very young age and as someone who was diagnosed with dyslexia back in the 1980s, Isaac’s mum Gillian recognised her son’s struggles to cope with the demands of day to day life only too well. The family first sought help from an educational psychologist in England who went on to assess and diagnose Isaac as dyslexic. This diagnosis made sense to Gillian who could identify with his struggles.
It was only when the family moved to Northern Ireland and Isaac started school there that it was clear just how much Isaac was struggling to keep up with his peers. Already one of the youngest in his school year, Isaac’s parents and his teachers noticed that he was not progressing as well as he should, despite the additional learning help he received from the school.
Isaac’s mother, as a primary education professional herself, had noticed a pattern with Isaac in his early years including delayed speech and a withdrawn demeanour. In the search for answers, Isaac’s parents approached an educational psychologist in Northern Ireland, who wasn’t in agreement with the first diagnosis of dyslexia and implied that Isaac had a low IQ, which the family found upsetting and hard to accept.
It didn’t take long for Gillian to recognise that following this diagnosis, there simply wasn’t going to be any provision within mainstream education to help Isaac thrive. Yet she knew her son was not retaining the information he needed to move forward in his education and was out of his depth with his classmates. She would have to find a solution herself to bring Isaac along. This was the breaking point in which Gillian and her husband decided to seek outside help in the form of private tutoring as a last resort to ensure their son would enjoy a better quality of life.
Isaac’s school was able to give Isaac some additional assistance but it wasn’t impacting on his ability to retain information and keep up with his peers. Isaac remained a quiet, withdrawn and well-behaved boy. Regardless of his struggles and despite the efforts of his school he wasn’t progressing.
The biggest fear of Isaac’s parents at the time was that he had been overlooked based on a broader criteria. It was obvious to Gillian that Isaac was struggling with his memory and processing information at school and appeared “vacant” when questioned about how his day had been. Gillian had spent most of her own childhood dealing with the frustration of being the “forgotten child” and emboldened by her own parents’ determination to support her education as she grew up, decided to take matters into her own hands and seek additional help.
In a quest to get tutoring services for their son, the family searched the internet for local tutoring for dyslexic children and stumbled upon the Make Learning Easy website. This led to an appointment and after a lengthy assessment with Carmel at the Ballymena office it was clear to Gillian that she was finally talking to someone who could help her son. Right off the bat, Carmel was able to pinpoint certain aspects of Isaac’s behaviour and attribute it to a diagnosis of dyslexia and dyspraxia.
Isaac was sent home with a list of exercises to carry out with his parent’s help and the instruction that he would be seen again in another eight weeks.
At a later stage, Isaac received Johansen Sound Therapy from Carmel.
Finally, Isaac’s parents were able to understand what was going on for Isaac and why. Carmel explained that dyslexia and dyspraxia are a neurological and neuro-psychological disorder respectively and not a measure of IQ as they had been told – and this is what Isaac had been battling with his whole young life.
Isaac’s parents were sent home with a treatment plan to be implemented. Body Mapping was one such exercise, for example which involved massaging Isaac at certain points on his body each day. It was during these rounds of prescribed exercises and around six months later when Gillian started to notice a significant change in Isaac and how he interacted with his siblings. In Gillian’s own words “a veil had been lifted from behind Isaac’s eyes”. Isaac was more confident, less passive and began to blossom in to a fun-loving and witty little boy.
Isaac’s parents soon discovered that they had been wasting their time looking for a tutor when he needed his underlying conditions treated through a mixture of therapy and specific exercises. These treatments are designed to fit the individual child and their ability in a non-invasive way through the medium of simple exercises; keeping in mind that sometimes a child is only trying to cope with how they receive information through their sensory channels, how they process that information and how their under developed response patterns “block” the path upon which complex skills normally build. By addressing these “root” problems a specific treatment plan can be put in place.
Fast forward to today and Isaac is a totally different boy. He has started to get involved in life and make his own choices. He is showing his individuality, doing better at school and is making the most of the underlying childlike sense of fun and wit that was just waiting to shine through once a connection was made – (much to the dismay of his brothers!). Isaac is absorbing information and his educational progress is flourishing and improving more and more every day.
Isaac’s parents, Gillian and Colin had this to say:
“Thank you so much!
Words can’t express enough our gratitude for all your help and support with Isaac. You’ve awakened him out of his own little bubble and given him confidence and enhanced his mental ability to succeed. Now, there is a spark in Isaac’s eyes and his whole personality and character has blossomed.
Isaac is so quick witted now and gets jokes, he talks about his day at school remembering every detail! Before starting this therapy, he barely spoke and telling me about his day was near enough impossible as his short-term memory was so poor.
I’m sure Isaac can reach for the stars now and with hard work achieve whatever his heart desires. You have given him belief in himself. Best wishes for your future work Carmel! “
– Gillian & Colin | North Coast.