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Their poor school performance was characterized by a level 1 (not achieved) out of 4 on report cards. However these worrying results changed drastically just six months after enrolling the twins at an Edublox reading and learning clinic. Jeremiah scored a 3 (satisfactory achievement) for Math and 2 for other subjects.
Born with fetal alcohol syndrome
Armien suspected that her boys’ developmental progress wasn’t on par when they were still very young. This was confirmed by doctors who told her that they had been born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). When in Grade 2, both boys struggled to concentrate at school, had to repeat the year and were promoted to Grade 3 with support, which left Armien worried. Jeremiah was diagnosed with ADHD and a severe form of dyslexia. He had serious reading and spelling problems, struggled to write and remember what he had been taught.
“Jeremiah hated holding a pen so much at that time,” says Armien who would squirt toothpaste onto the basin and encourage her son to hold his toothbrush and ‘trace’ through it as though it were a pen. “I wasted so much toothpaste on that,” she says through laughs as she remembers the challenges of trying to help her son.
Armien was advised to send Jeremiah to a special needs school and that he needed to take Ritalin. “I absolutely refused to give it to him because I don’t consider that kind of medication a solution for learning problems.” She was desperate to keep both her sons in mainstream schooling and began searching for help from remedial teachers, educational consultants and psychologists with no success. Then she found out about Edublox through a Google search.
In an initial meeting, Edublox educational practitioner Zainu Allie told Armien that she had never worked with children who had FAS, but that Edublox’s cognitive skills development programs, which formed a part of a comprehensive rehabilitation program, had helped a student who sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle accident. “I said to Lameez, if Edublox could help a person in such a condition then it could certainly help her sons, let’s try.” The twins joined Edublox in July 2010, mid-way through Grade 3. Within three months there were drastic improvements in their handwriting and ability to concentrate.
Armien, a fiercely committed and passionate mother would come home from work and spend every evening revising work together with her sons. “There were parts of their textbooks that I knew backward,” she said. “There was no day in the term that we didn’t study.”
At Edublox classes which they attended for two and a half years they learned foundational skills in concentration and learning which put them on the front foot for a successful academic career throughout primary school. “Edublox helps children to read, learn and achieve through multisensory cognitive training, aimed at developing and automatizing the foundational skills required for learning,” says Allie. “The ability to process information is a pre-requisite for learning to take place. It’s these skills that we develop in children who have learning difficulties.”
The boys who had ‘not achieved’ in Grade 3 now score upward of 70% for their best subjects
Now the boys are in Grade 8. Earlier this year Armien was indisposed for three weeks and could not oversee their studying for exams. Although she was naturally worried for them, facing their first high school exam period, she need not have done so because both sons came home with pleasing results at the end of the term.
The twins are now fully independent learners who have remained in mainstream education. “I can actually watch TV again,” she jokes adding that her sons have a different attitude to school now and can study without her supervision. “They believe that they can get good marks and that’s because they have the foundations right and had the proper cognitive skills development that they needed early on in their school career. We have experienced some major challenges together, not only at school but also emotional struggles linked to their being fostered. However, I can look back now with such relief and pride in my sons.”
The boys who had ‘not achieved’ in Grade 3 now score upwards of 70% for their best subjects and have been promoted to Grade 9. For Armien, the best part of the story is that her sons never had to attend a special needs school.