Sarah came to us at the very end of fourth grade after her teacher expressed concern to her mother about Sarah’s writing abilities. With upbeat confidence, Sarah reported rated herself as “loving” and being “great at” math, science, singing, dancing, and acting. In contrast, she rated spelling, punctuation, writing paragraphs, and writing stories “kinda bad” and “YUCK!”
Sarah confessed that she wasn’t so organized, and she especially struggled with open ended writing tasks that required a lot of organization on her part. Though she liked being read to and animatedly talked about several age-appropriate books, she thought reading was “boring.”
Sarah had fairly pronounced speech articulation errors – she pronounced S, Z, and CH sounds as “th.” Sarah’s mother indicated that she had raised concern about this year after year, but school personnel always said it wasn’t a problem. (While this is not an uncommon pattern for younger children, it is no longer typical for a child Sarah’s age.)
Sarah was so relieved to hear that we could help her with her speech because her sister had been making fun of her for mispronouncing her own name for quite some time. She added, “It’s so embarrassing, and my first name and last name start with S!” Also, she was excited to hear that we could teach her some strategies that would make school-based writing easier for her.
Sarah enrolled in our Summer Program to get started with intensive individual sessions. She is now in her third semester of our School Year Program. Her speech-language pathologist/reading specialist has focused on: correcting Sarah’s articulation errors, teaching her how expository and narrative text is structured and how to tackle the writing process (using the EmPOWER method), basic punctuation rules, spelling (using a phonetic rule-based approach), and organization skills (using Brain Frames).
Parent and teacher consultation also were provided to support Sarah with using new skills and strategies at home and in school.
What Sarah says:
“Since I started AFL I have gotten better at speech, writing, and organization. I have gotten better at saying my S, Z, and CH sounds, which meant getting rid of my lisp. YAY! In writing, I have gotten better at figuring out what punctuation goes where, forming sentences and adding as much detail to those sentences as I can, and answering open response questions. I now find writing easier and less stressful. When it comes to organization, I definitely have improved in keeping my binders and backpacks less cluttered. And who can forget those long term projects? I can’t. I still haven’t mastered them, but I have gotten better at scheduling them (even though I may not want to). Overall, I feel confident about everything I have learned about so far, and hope to improve my skills and learn even more in the future.”
What Sarah's mother says:
“Sarah has grown leaps and bounds since she started at AFL. She latched onto the strategies so quickly, and she uses them at home without reminders when she has assignments that are hard. She’s so proud of her writing now that she’ll share it with anyone. I am so grateful!”