Poor Visual Spatial Skills, Visual Motor Planning
and Auditory Working Memory
Testimonial by Colleen in Sydney, Australia, June 2006
I live in Sydney and started my then 7-year-old on Audiblox in Jan 2005. Audiblox is still a work in progress for us.
In 2004 he was dubbed a slow learner after an IQ test. More digging showed up he has multiple weakness with visual spatial skills (bottom 1% for his age); visual motor planning (handwriting) and mild language problems. Most significantly he has a poor working memory, especially his auditory working memory. Not surprisingly school wasnít his favourite place and he still struggles to concentrate in noisy classrooms.
I started Audiblox because despite 7 months of specialised help for two hours a week with reading (using a phonics based programme), spelling and handwriting, his progress was slow and he was not catching up. At the start of Audiblox his reading was still 9 months behind his age group in year 1. Within three months of starting Audiblox his year 2 special ed. teacher at school said whatever I was doing was working and they eventually discontinued including him with the L.D. school reading programme. Note: They don't do reading recovery at his school. By September 2005, end of year two, he was considered to be in the normal range for reading, whatever that means. We are still doing the reading programme and 18 months after starting we are close to completing the 3rd chapter of the book Rainbow Dreams. Note: in 12 months my sonís visual spatial scores improved dramatically. He started with a standardised score of 66 in Jan 2005 and then improved to 96 in Dec 2005, with 100 being average, all thanks to Audiblox.
Now the focus is on accelerating his reading and language comprehension (the language problem is acting as a brake on his progress). I was slow to follow the strategy suggested by the programme for children with language problems so it is too early to see any difference. I admit I find it difficult to incorporate that part of the programme on top of everything else (it involves playing taped stories). I do 1-1.5 hours per day.
I also use the reading programme as an opportunity to discuss different word meanings and word combinations. It does disrupt the programme and makes it take longer than an hour but it provides an opportunity to work on language skills.
Audiblox has definitely helped my sonís spelling. In year 1 he just couldnít remember to spell the most basic words even after practicing all week. There are still lots of words he canít spell but his ability to learn words of 5 to 8 letters has accelerated and he is better at retaining them.
He still has a problem with written output. We saw over the last year a slow decline in the number of letter reversals but his handwriting is messy and not automating even though his fine motor skills have improved on re-testing (103 standardised score). He still has to stop to think how to form letters. I recently took him to an O.T. as when I try to add in the handwriting component out of the dysgraphia programme he has a meltdown. It takes him 20 minutes to complete the 5-minute exercise badly. Iím hoping heíll have a change of heart and try the programme during the week. I have showed the programme to a couple of O.T.ís and they think it would help him.
I wonít pretend Audiblox has been easy to follow through with, as my son is not a willing participant. It has been a case of dogged persistence in the face of persistent resistance. I know Audiblox has helped him. I do think that its success is due to the regularity with which it is done, i.e. 1 hour 5 days a week for the first 10 months. Circumstances caused a period of disruption to the programme but I did not notice any regression resulting from this. This year we do 4-5 days per week, either Ĺ hour or 1 hour depending on what we can fit in. The difference is last year I did not make him do school homework except spelling. This year (3) I am doing school homework plus sport, making the week a bit crowded at times. I now try to fit the 1-hour reading programme in before school but sometimes we donít make it right though.
All up Iíd recommend the programme. I can see it has helped in all sorts of ways other than just reading.