When I found the Oakland RiteCare Language Center, my daughter Mason had already been through four years of services for developmental delays (occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language therapy) in two different cities. We had recently moved to the East Bay and I was feeling overwhelmed by the difficult IEP system, the extraordinary cost of private speech therapy, and the fact that everyone we were referred to was booked solid. Mason had benefited from some good therapists and therapies but none seemed to get to the root of her issues. She had repeatedly practiced how to organize a puzzle in order to solve it, but couldn’t carry that skill over to other organizational tasks. She had worked on phonics but it didn’t stick and she was frustrated and disinterested in reading. She had worked on fine motor skills, balance, taken countless hours of ballet, but couldn’t cross the midline or repeat with one foot what she’d just done with the other.
When she turned 7, Mason was officially diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder. She also has some visual tracking issues and some sensory challenges. It’s not a great recipe for learning. This is when I learned about the Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center.
I recall crying with relief during my intake interview with Pam Norton. As I described Mason: “she has difficulty with the organization of her body, her thoughts,” Pam said, “We have programs that work with the elasticity of the brain to improve executive function and the mind-body connection.” She said, “It sounds like we need to get to the root of that before we move forward with anymore traditional speech therapy.” She went on to tell me about programs like FastForWord that would help Mason improve how she processed language, thus helping her learn to read and comprehend written and spoken language more accurately.
Mason started at the Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center in the middle of 1st grade. It didn’t take long for us to begin seeing improvements. Mason began her work with educational therapist Nan Busse on Interactive Metronome (IM) and loved it. I saw her progress daily. She was able to use both sides of her body simultaneously in rhythm - something that seems intuitive but to her was not. She had struggled with reading and wasn't making the progress her teacher had hoped. We don't like to talk "levels" but Mason was still struggling with kindergarten material. After completing her first round of IM, Fast ForWord Language, and starting on auditory training program Zoo Caper Skyscraper, Mason's 1st grade teacher stopped me at school to say, “WOW, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!" She had given Mason a quick reading assessment and found she was reading and comprehending at a first grade level - putting her in a much better position to start 2nd grade.
Over the summer Mason was able to continue FastForWord and work with Pam in a critical thinking group with her peers. She went from telling me she was “stupid and can’t read" in the first grade to writing that she "loves to learn and is good at reading" in the 2nd grade. Mason is now reading at grade level with some assistance, enjoys math, participates actively in all subjects and feels good about her ability to learn. Most exciting for me is that she has developed a love for reading and I "catch" her reading all the time.
Mason still has work to do and lots of growth ahead of her, but the Oakland RiteCare Language Center, comprised of its excellent and caring staff plus the variety of programs offered, has given Mason the building blocks for that growth and it has equipped our family with the tools to continue supporting her in an effective way.