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Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Cool Seattle Learning Center

Nora and I had a fabulous 2 days in Seattle. Momma daughter time together!

First a post on the main reason why we headed south for a few days...

Our primary focus of the trip was to go to a center that works especially with Auditory Processing delays. With Nora's speech delays along with a few other symptoms I've been eager for an approach to help really address the core problem to prevent reading delays and help give her a stronger base for reading. Over the years Nora has undergone speech therapy, occupational therapy which has helped a little bit, but none of it has really addressed the core problem causing the speech delay. This has become more and more frustrating to me. I don't want to treat symptoms, I want to address the core problem.

Cindy Lehman (left, owner of center), Becka (right, Nora's teacher) and Nora
The center I contacted in Seattle, Lehman Learning Solutions,  was very receptive and willing to take us on as distant clients. After initial contact the owner e-mailed me some intake forms on Nora's behaviors, abilities, etc.  Within a few more e-mails, the owner told me that yes-she believed the treatment approaches they do would help Nora.

I found out once I got there that the remote treatment style is not typically done; typically students come there 2-3 days a week to do their programs with teachers.  Since I am a physical therapist, and there are no teachers in these techniques here,  they were confident that I would have the base knowledge necessaryy to help carry out the home program with  Nora here in Kodiak.

The evaluation that Nora's Seattle Learning Center Teacher, Becka,  did on Nora was fabulous. It was the most thorough, accurate, clear picture of Noras strengths, needs, abilities that has ever been done in the past several years.

I could tell from the quality of the written components of the testing that Nora gave it her all and really worked her hardest. The testing was nearly 3 hours and Nora went through it like a champ. Over the years I've seen various assessments done on Nora; some good, some not so good. Some where I thought, "what? really?" and knew the results were not accurate because of the testers short interaction with Nora and lack of practice for answering the questions. This center really knows how to administer thorough standardized tests to kids. They gave her a practice question to make sure Nora knew what was being asked of her.

Flying out of Anchorage towards Seattle
Our second day at the center,  the owner went through Nora's testing results with me while Nora did her first round of movement/listening activities with her teacher.  On both days, I was trained on how to carry out the home program with her.

We are embarking upon an extensive 20 week program which is designed to connect and strengthen the auditory (sound) and vestibular (movement) systems of her brain together. It is composed of specially designed sound, music combined with very structured, changing activites to help bring more organization to Nora's brain. People with all types of needs use these systems, including adults who want better focus in college, older people with memory loss, kids with speech delay, reading delay, kids with movement difficulties, and even high level olympians and golfers who want to improve their timing with their sports.

The Candy store at Pikes Place Market. Nora was, well, like a kid in a  candy store! In awe. 
There are several components to Nora's program but the take home message is its going to be a busy 20 weeks for Nora and I. On future blog posts I'll give a better picture of the specific interventions; they are fascinating and powerful with their effects.

To ensure maximum results and change in her brain, it is necessary to do the program 5 days a week, and it takes 1.5 hours a day. The good part is that once the neural connections are made, it is permanent. Its not as though we are going to have to maintain this intensity for years. It is 5 months of the concentrated work. And the instructors said that within a few weeks we will probably notice change of some sort in nora's abilities at home or school.
Warm weather. Ahhhh!!

We start the program tomorrow here in Kodiak  and will carefully  log our assigned activities, hours, progress, challenges, etc. Nora's teacher in Seattle, Becka, will be checking in with us via skype and monitoring progress with one of her computerized auditory programs from Seattle. Becka was a BIG hit with Nora. When we said good bye, Nora gave Becka several hugs. I was glad the Becka hit it off with Nora, because it was a fun, positive introduction to the activites that I"m going to be carrying out with her.

Today when we got off the airplane in Anchorage, we walked out into the long terminal towards the security exit. Nora took off ahead of me, skipping. I smiled to myself, as this is something she has never done much of. She was having so much fun doing it and this classic childhood move finally looked easy for her to get. It was probably coincidence that she took off so confidently, but in either case, it made me happy to see.


On the very cool new Seattle Ferris Wheel down on the wharf!

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