Who do you help?
Currently, the major focus of our program involves the treatment of dyslexia in children and adolescents. We have worked with individuals from ages 4 to 23. However, we also treat other learning disabilities, language disorders, ADHD, and assist with behavior and emotional difficulties.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is the most common of the learning disabilities and may affect as many as 20% of the population. It is a brain disorder that runs in families. The clinical presentation of dyslexia is quite variable, but typically involves difficulty reading single words (or decoding) and spelling. Individuals with dyslexia usually read slowly and laboriously and find reading a frustrating and exhausting experience. They often have difficulty with writing composition. Some children with dyslexia also have a language disorder which impairs their ability to understand what they are reading and to communicate effectively. Children with dyslexia may also struggle with math.
Children and adults with dyslexia are at risk for emotional problems because they often experience so much frustration in academic settings. Although they struggle with reading, individuals with dyslexia typically have average or above-average intelligence and often excel in other areas. Nonetheless, these children almost always suffer from low self-esteem. Even very young children may be aware that they cannot read as well as most of their classmates.
My child dislikes reading, how do I get him to want to do this program?
It is possible to devise positive incentives so that even the most resistant student becomes highly motivated to succeed. One child who disliked reading earned an entire Lego set, one piece at a time during his program and is now reading at or above grade level. A defeated 6-year-old who described himself as “dead meat” in the reading arena was initially rewarded with beads, which he coveted, until he read his first book. At that point he began to take pride in his gains and is now an independent, confident, and motivated student. Often, once a child recognizes that reading is becoming easier, this in itself is sufficient reward. In addition, therapists use students’ strengths and interests to propel learning.
If I take my child out of school for ten weeks, won’t it interfere with his academic and social development?
If timing and availability permits, a WINSi summer session is available. That said, it is often necessary to schedule the ten-week WINSi program during the school year. For the elementary school-aged child, this usually poses no problems and is often very helpful as it stops the cycle of defeat. Typically the child returns to the classroom with vastly improved academic skills and a more positive self image, making it easy to pick up where they left off. One bright 9-year-old child announced to his class that he was going to attend a special school to learn to read and then returned to his classroom proud of his accomplishment.
The same is generally true for the older student except that they may need to keep up with other studies, such as math. In some cases, the student may be able to receive help on a long term assignment, such as a research paper. The WINSi staff will continue working with the student in the Follow-Through Program and maintain contact with the classroom teacher to make the transition back to the classroom setting as smooth as possible.
Do you treat older, college-age students and young adults?
Yes, but the situation with the older adolescent/young adult is different in that, by the time an individual with a reading impairment has struggled through school, they have developed a dislike for education and usually have acquired a number of secondary emotional problems. Thus, it takes more effort to deal with this array of problems and make long-lasting behavioral changes which will enable the young person to function effectively as an adult. Older students require not only the intensive training program but also need a fairly long period of supervised after-school work which involves learning to manage school work effectively on a day to day basis. In addition, these students also work with Amy Latimer, LCSW on dealing with their emotional problems.
What about the young child who is not yet a reader but is identified as being at risk?
This is ideal time to work with the very young child who is at risk for reading disability. In fact, research suggests that intervention is most effective when applied “early and often.” The program is modified for children of this age, and it is possible to make very rapid and effective progress. WINSi has a particular interest and commitment to the early identification and treatment of the child at risk for reading disability.
How will I know how well my child is doing in the program?
Parents receive weekly, comprehensive progress reports. In addition, parents can schedule appointments with staff to discuss any questions or concerns.