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48yo Fire Fighter Improves Test Taking To Keep His Job

Written By Geoff Nixon . May 20, 2024

Auditory Processing Is Not Longer Holding Him Back

Mike, an experienced firefighter, found himself in the unenviable position of having to give up the career he loved or fight to keep it by facing cognitive struggles that had challenged him for years. Thankfully, Mike chose the latter. He kept his job. He is worthy of the title “fighter” be it fire or otherwise.

Mike had been a firefighter for 15 years when he received a concerning performance evaluation. He was having trouble recalling multi-step directions, learning new tasks, and understanding communications over the radio.

He realized that he’d been compensating for challenges unconsciously for years by writing things down, relying on a calendar, doing things over and over to commit them to memory, and breaking instructions into smaller steps. But this was no longer working.

His employers suspected a hearing problem, so Mike went for an evaluation.

He learned that he had an auditory processing disorder (APD).

Seeking a Solution

Faced with the potential of either losing the job he loved or being assigned to desk duty, he started searching for ways to improve.

This led him to Gemm Learning.

Mike liked that he could work on a version of Fast ForWord designed for teenagers and adults – at home, on his own schedule. He also found the consistency and repetition helpful. He approached the program with a positive attitude and worked regularly on his exercises.

Mike’s advice to any future Gemm students, “With this, like anything else, go at it with a good attitude.” We couldn’t agree more!

In time, he began to notice that things were changing. “It wasn’t anything drastic. It was, I guess, very subtle. Things just seemed to connect better afterwards. I was able to focus a little bit better.”

He continued his sessions and before long, the results he had been hoping for occurred. Towards the end of his six month program, Mike went for a follow up evaluation which revealed little to no deficits.  He had been able to improve processing as an adult, his brain was able to learn how to be more efficient.

His confidence improved significantly, and he was placed back on duty at work with no restrictions. Mike notes that his performance evaluations and relationships with fellow firefighters improved substantially as well. He is still with that same fire department and says he would encourage others to complete our program.

“It just felt like it helped me a lot.” One key component, he adds, is how you approach it. “With this, like anything else, go at it with a good attitude.” It definitely worked for Mike.


Mike worked for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for 6 months. He completed 4 programs – two focused on cognitive skills, two focused on reading comprehension.

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