"I highly recommend Fast ForWord to other parents whose kids have sequencing and audio response problems. And it's invaluable for kids who have ADD tendencies, because with this product, they really learn to focus."
--Catherine's mother, Sharon O'Neill
Starting with kindergarten, Sharon knew her daughter Catherine was more than dyslexic. "She had complex learning disabilities, and they were making school very difficult for her. I watched her go from being a happy, sunny girl to a bundle of anxiety where school and learning was concerned," Sharon remembers. "It was heartbreaking, and I knew I had to do something fast."
Although Catherine had a high score on her verbal IQ test, her difficulties in learning how to read and write left her feeling she wasn't very smart. "Imagine being so bright and thinking you're dumb," says Sharon.
Sharon's biggest concern was that Catherine might develop self-esteem problems that she would carry around with her for the rest of her life. Sharon was determined to prevent that from happening.
"We tried remedial programs," Sharon says. "For quite a while, Catherine went to a reading program after school, but she really hated it." The programs weren't working, because Catherine didn't have the basic skills she needed to make the programs effective.
Then came the pivotal moment. In second grade, Catherine tested in the 25th percentile on the STAR* test. At her wits' end, Sharon decided to take more aggressive action.
"I took Catherine to UC Berkeley for help," she remembers. "I was looking for something, anything, that would unlock the key to learning for my unhappy and distraught little girl. Then somebody on the staff at UC Berkeley told me about Fast ForWord® software. Suddenly I had hope, and I pursued the idea immediately."
Catherine's school did not have a Fast ForWord program in place, so Sharon, took the unusual step of purchasing and using Fast ForWord software at home.
Catherine began using Fast ForWord products around the Christmas holiday season while she was in third grade. She used Language to Reading for 60-75 minutes a day, five days a week, for eight weeks.
"Her reading got noticeably better, and we were really happy about it," Sharon says. "But at the same time, school was accelerating, so Catherine was still struggling, and she wasn't yet up to standard."
Sharon then put Catherine on Fast ForWord to Reading Prep. Suddenly Catherine made so much progress that "we took her completely off remedial programs for the fourth grade," Sharon recalls.
"It was the first time in years that she could just go to school and come home and not have to do anything except her regular homework. That was a big relief for both of us!"
Then came the big surprise. "This past summer (of 2005), Catherine came to me and said 'I'd like to do Fast ForWord again.' I was amazed, because we'd both been enjoying 'normal life' so much. But Catherine wanted to go into fifth grade better prepared, and who was I to say no?"
After another six-week round of Fast ForWord software, the results were delighting both mother and daughter. "On Catherine's STAR [next] test, she wasn't below 50% in anything; in fact, she made 78% on part of it. I mean, this was a kid who never left the 20s, and now she's getting 50s and 70s!" Sharon exclaims.
Sharon believes that Fast ForWord products "totally helped Catherine in her reading and reading comprehension. It also helped her to focus better on her work." Sharon feels that they key to Catherine's success with Fast ForWord software was that "the products focused specifically on her disabilities, like sequencing and audio response."
Considering the time and expense involved, would Sharon consider using Fast ForWord software again? "No doubt about it, it was a great investment for us," Sharon says. "Taking a kid from the 25th percentile into the 70th, that's fantastic. I would do it all over again in a minute."
Sharon declares, "I highly recommend Fast ForWord to other parents whose kids have sequencing and audio response problems. And it's invaluable for kids who have ADD tendencies, because with this product, they really learn to focus."
Sharon has been telling the teachers and administrators at Catherine's school in San Ramon Valley, California, all about Fast ForWord products. "I've gone to them and highlighted the success that we're so proud of. It takes a village, you know. And I hope this village decides to put Fast ForWord software into the school system!"
*The California Department of Education's Standardized Testing and Reporting.