How Our At Home Treatment Works – One Story

Before Gemm Learning

My daughter, Kate, had a classic case of auditory processing disorder.  We did not need to get a diagnosis as her APD symptoms were so obvious:

  • Rhyming issues as a 3-year old
  • Trouble hearing when there is background noise
  • Slow start to reading
  • Teacher says she is inattentive

Rather than hire a tutor, we decided to look for a way to deal with APD, hopefully once and for all.  Tutoring and accommodations at school would be our fallback plan.  We searched online for information on APD and came across Gemm Learning.

We ended up selecting Gemm Learning because they had been working with children like Kate for many years. We requested a consult, and on that call, we found out that the Fast ForWord software was founded specifically on the idea of strengthening auditory processing, the source of so many reading delays, and Kate’s issue.

Gemm Learning Journey

A Leap of Faith

We recognized it was somewhat of a leap of faith, to try a one-time intervention like Gemm Learning and Fast ForWord, rather taking the well-worn tutoring path. But we had seen first hand in our own family that brain plasticity is real – my father has made an almost a complete recovery from a stroke that took away his speech for a while. The stroke killed cells in the language part of his brain. But he has been able to adapt, to relearn those lost language skills in a different part of the brain.

And so we were open to idea of brain plasticity, that learning can be trained to improve.

Getting Started

The same day we signed up, we received a welcome call from Deli, our program manager.  We had already done a free assessment, which Gemm Learning offers from time to time and so we knew Kate was about 2 years behind in her reading.

Gemm gave us a cheat sheet script to share with Kate, a way to talk to her about how learning can improve if you practice and how Gemm Learning is the kind of practice that will help her find reading easier and make it easier for her to hear the teacher in class.

Deli also encouraged us to think in advance about the five days a week, 30 minutes a day routine.  Kate has soccer practice and girl scouts, so we went for four week days and Saturday morning.  We missed the occasional session here and there, but managed 4 or 5 days a week pretty solidly.

And when we did have a gap, due to Kate being sick for a few days, Gemm Learning noticed!  They called politely, asking if everything was OK. Knowing they were monitoring so closely kept us on track!  They also helped at about the 6-week mark, when Kate started to get a bit tired of the routine. They pointed us to some incentive ideas on their My Gemm customer support site.  We went with points contributing to a Cristiano Rinaldo shirt.  A short time after that, Kate moved to Foundations II, a whole new set of games, which renewed her interest.

First Signs of Change

About week 4 we noticed Kate started to use different words, longer words.  We were so excited to tell Deli the next week in our regular check-in call. She explained it was a really great news as it was evidence that the world was slowing down for Kate, she had more time to process words now, and was hearing them well enough to use.

Soon after that, my wife had an ah-ha moment at Kate’s girl scout meeting.  The girls sitting around a table were given instructions on tracing leaves on paper using a crayon. Once the leader had explained how to do it, my wife walked around to help Kate, as is always needed when multi-step instructions involved.

My wife was surprised to see that Kate had already started.  She had understood the instructions without help.  Something was happening to Kate’s brain!

Exciting Changes on the Program

After that, every week seemed to bring  a new change.

We started to notice she was less shy about reading out loud to us. Deli told us that because she was now processing faster, her phonemic awareness was improving and so she was connecting more words on the page to words she has heard.  This is giving her the confidence to be willing to read out loud.  Previously, for Kate,  it seemed sometimes that the text may as well have been in Russian!

A couple of weeks later, she was called on to read out loud in class.  Kate did amazingly well apparently, the class gave her a standing ovation!  The teacher was shocked, so much so she called my wife to ask what was going on with Kate. We told her about Gemm Learning.

We continued  with Fast ForWord and Gemm Learning for 6 months, and took the reading test again.  Kate went up 2.5 grades from the test she took at the start, which the Gemm Learning folks said was about average for their students.

We are excited though, as really, the 2.5 years of gain don’t capture the change in Kate.  She had more confidence, was more talkative, more attentive and reading was no longer something she avoided like the plague.

Exciting Changes Two Years After the Program

It’s hard for us to remember a time when Kate struggled with reading and learning.  She is now on track with her reading and learning, brimming with confidence – loving life, loving school.

While she is not the kind of child that will sit down and read for hours, she does read for pleasure now.  While I don’t love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I do love that she has read pretty much all of them. That would have been hard to even imagine 3 years ago.

Gemm Learning client testimonials here

This diary is a composite of three actual Gemm Learning students.