Dyslexic chil­dren ad­vanc­ing so fast

Par­ents can’t be­lieve progress as sys­tem opens up learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By SUE FEA More in­for­ma­tion:

The dis­cov­ery of a break­through new method in teach­ing dyslex­ics is al­ready pro­duc­ing mirac­u­lous re­sults for a hand­ful of Queen­stown kids. Queen­stown mum Leone Schoen­baech­ler was at the end of her tether a few years ago, af­ter un­suc­cess­fully try­ing ev­ery method avail­able of help­ing her se­verely dyslexic son. Josh, now 13, but di­ag­nosed at five, was with­draw­ing from school and had been bul­lied by other kids. He was be­ing blamed for a learn­ing dif­fi­culty he had no con­trol over. ‘‘We tried school as­sess­ment pro­grammes, the Ron Davis method, had Seabrook McKen­zie as­sess­ments, Kip McGrath, you name it. It’s cost us $20,000 to get to this point.’’ She took him to Auck­land, aged 11, to seek help at pri­vate school, Went­worth Col­lege. It was there she met an el­derly dyslexic woman, Zan­nie Danks Davis, and dis­cov­ered a method of ‘‘decoding’’ words, de­vised by a dyslexic for dyslex­ics. ‘‘He came out of her of­fice spelling words. I burst into tears,’’ Mrs Schoen­baech­ler said. ‘‘He went up a year in read­ing, writ­ing and spelling in just six months and skipped a year at school. ‘‘His boosted con­fi­dence was the big­gest thing.’’ Josh, who had been forced to give up com­pet­i­tive swim­ming to fo­cus on his learn­ing, was now flour­ish­ing. ‘‘His gift




just blos­somed. He’s won a schol­ar­ship for mu­sic and thanks to his lo­cal church now has con­fi­dence to per­form on stage. He’s re­ally be­com­ing a leader – it’s just so amaz­ing,’’ Mrs Schoen­baech­ler said. Josh, a stu­dent at Kingsview School, said he now had ‘‘a mas­sive ball of courage’’. ‘‘When peo­ple kept bul­ly­ing me, it af­fected my con­fi­dence.’’ It was a myth that dys­lexia was ‘‘just mix­ing your let­ters’’, Mrs Schoen­baech­ler said. ‘‘They have no short term mem­ory and don’t re­mem­ber dates, times of the year. Time is not im­por­tant to them. They also have dif­fi­culty fo­cus­ing. ‘‘School can be a hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence for them. Fail­ure is a daily rou­tine for th­ese kids and many re­port abuse from teach­ers, par­ents and other kids,’’ she said. Now trained in the Danks Davis method, she is teach­ing other lo­cal stu­dents, whose par­ents are also gob­s­macked by the re­sults. With just one hour a week of lessons they were all skip­ping lev­els rapidly at school. ‘‘It’s about us­ing a spelling method to open the mind of words and it just sets th­ese kids free,’’ a de­lighted Mrs Schoen­baech­ler said. Ma­ree Wear­ing, mum of 8-yearold dyslexic Nicki, said the method made it so much sim­pler for Nicki to re­call. ‘‘She’s just bolt­ing through the lev­els of achieve­ment.’’ In Nicki’s words it was ‘‘like be­ing set free from a box’’: ‘‘I feel re­ally good and clever,’’ Nicki said. Rachel Baylis, mum of 10-year-old dyslexic Zoe, said she had to check if she had the right child when she read Zoe’s last school as­sess­ment.

Leone Schoen­baech­ler: 027 747 4360

Photo: SUE FEA

Set free: Josh, 13, and Leone Schoen­baech­ler at home in Frank­ton.

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