Ashylyn did not talk much when she was little and was shy about interacting with people. I sent her to a private Christian school for kindergarten hoping she would come out of her shell. Unfortunately, there were more problems than just shyness. I remember feeling unconcerned when her teacher said Ashylyn was having trouble memorizing the alphabet, including letters in her name. By the end of the school year, I decided to home school her, along with her two brothers who had been homeschooled for the past six years. When she was eight years old, I had her tested with Woodcock-Johnson and it showed the absence of academic abilities with a diagnosis of learning disabilities with significant processing deficits. I was more than depressed; I wondered what I was going to do.
I learned about the National Institute for Learning Disabilities and found a wonderful educational therapist who worked with Ashylyn for many years. She improved Ashylyn’s visual/motor skills and she did learn to read; however, she continued to struggle in ways I couldn’t understand nor offer solutions to ease them.
Just as I was wondering about the quality of Ashylyn’s future, I met Cheri Moore. I was intrigued by what she shared regarding her own children, background in special education, and research. She asked all the right questions about difficulties I had recognized in Ashylyn but did not know of any solutions nor realized they were mostly caused by weaknesses in her hearing. For example: Ashylyn became fatigued after reading, to the point of having to go and take a nap; she yawned excessively when her brain was being stimulated too much; she would regularly cover her ears when hearing certain sounds and complain; she had trouble speaking and seemed to lose her words; avoided going outside; and continued to struggle academically in reading, spelling, and writing. Hardest of all was her absence of friends and isolation due to poor socialization skills.
Cheri encouraged me to have her hearing tested using the Berard hearing test, which showed painful hearing in the areas of speech and environment. No wonder Ashylyn preferred to wear earplugs and stay home. She also did not use both ears for hearing on all frequencies, which Cheri explained was the brain’s defense mechanism to lessen painful hearing. I finally had answers and hope. Ashylyn completed the in-home Berard Auditory Integration Training program along with Brain Integration Training and I really began to see quite a difference. She was able to retain more of what she learned, didn’t forget the previous day’s lesson, and slowly became less sensitive to sound. After an AIT booster, her speech became more fluent and mature, with a more appropriate pitch noticeable by others. She started enjoying trips outside and began wanting friends. After six months, Ashylyn had a second AIT session and she continued to make so much progress she started looking for work. She is now working two jobs, enjoys meeting each new person, and even takes care of three small children. Sometimes the baby’s cry causes discomfort, but she is learning that it is normal for some sounds to bother a person. After twelve months, the hearing test showed normal sensitivity levels to sounds heard in the environment and use of both ears for all frequencies. Surprisingly, Ashylyn requested one more session, because she would like to improve her speech fluency and ability to tolerate quiet sounds. We are confident Ashylyn will continue to make progress.
A Mother’s Thankfulness