Mobilizing Yatri: From Making Noise to use it for Learning Constructively.
The journey described here is one we never thought we would undertake. Yet, our family had to make this in order to equip Yatri with the skills he needed to succeed in life.
Born by emergency C-section, Yatri quickly started thriving and met all developmental milestones. We met with the pediatrician every six months and all seemed fine. From about two years onwards, the only complaints were the volume button, and curious behavior with some aspects of clothing. Yatri was loud, VERY LOUD! Crazy loud! A good time for him always constituted a noise generation opportunity. If no ‘equipment’ was at hand his vocal chords sufficed. Luckily for him, our large property accommodated this well, and at the same time camouflaged the problem. We would have definitely had complaints from neighbors if we were in a smaller setup. He attended a little playschool where the noise level was frequently commented on. Clothing was a battle too. There were perfectly good quality clothes for all occasion in his closet, however he had favorites, and would not wear anything else. Some socks, mostly all jeans, and clothing labels were all big issues. Eating was never a real problem, but he avoided all squishy foods. I could never have related any of these strange quibs to how his life started.
Twenty-three years later, looking back I connect more dots than
I knew existed. Yatri was diagnosed with sensory integration and tactile defensive issues. From here we participated in all kinds of interventions, which positioned him to become successful. The views and teachings and of veteran Diane Kraft with her Brain Integration Therapy, the books of Dr. Mel Levine, and Auditory Integration Therapy of Dr. Berard, all served us well. We lived in South Africa and with no direct access to the aforementioned; we made use of local specialist who offered these services on a daily basis. In addition weekly sessions of occupational-and physical therapy were attended to help him integrate his sensory environment. Although all of these interventions did make a difference, it was the noise production dots that did not fit in anywhere.
To cope with the urge of always being noisy, we signed up for tap dancing lessons. My husband and I figured this would be a good workout and generate some level of noise satisfaction for him. It was exactly what we hoped for! The tap teacher worked at a dedicated remedial school during the week, and was well equipped to deal with a variety of different learning disabilities and conditions. Yatri was a prime candidate for him, and in turn he was the perfect antidote for our problem. As a talented dancing teacher, armed with tons of appropriate wit, and uncompromising attitude, he facilitated a positive outcome for Yatri. We still view this intervention as nothing short of a living miracle. Weekly flute and piano lessons also helped the noise levels along gracefully. Yatri was now moving into a phase where his energy was spent constructively. The positive direction we were now heading in seemed to have spilled over into other areas of learning. His life changed, and the rest of the family coped so much better.
Having arrived at a more agreeable place, we embarked on writing activities. It was here we discovered a more serious problem. Yatri had double vision and could not converge well enough to be able to read or write. His memorization of many early readers developed a memory and recall, which few people can rival. Several eye surgeries later, Yatri was 10 years old and could not read or write. The reading progress was relatively quick and did not present too many challenges. I mostly attribute this to his staple of being read aloud to, poetry/song memorization, and spelling out loud. Writing on the other hand was a struggle. First it was to attain some level of penmanship. Next, spelling did not come naturally. He needed much repetition. By this time we all felt the urgency of getting him caught up to his peers and moving forward. It was at time accompanied with much frustration on all sides. We were all longing for that breakthrough we had made in other areas, yet it remained elusive.
The Auditory Integration Therapy we did had many benefits. Yatri was able to listen carefully and retain the information for much longer than before. Dr. Berard’s view that ‘Hearing Equals Behavior’ was not such a foreign concept to me, as another close family member was hard of hearing, and I could clearly see the correlation. This therapy helped with the vocal volume control, but did not eliminate need for making a noise.
The therapist, who worked with Yatri using Diane Kraft’s Brain Integration Therapy, had the most success in mobilizing the act of writing. We did daily exercises for crossing the midline, flexing, and integrating movements on both sides of the brain. Dianne’s articles provided a rich source of quality priceless information. Her tips in those years about diet and environment was on point. A year ago I had the opportunity to listen to many of her presentations at the FPEA Conference in Orlando, Fl. After nearly 20 years, I still stand in awe of her wealth of knowledge, her real passion for parents and children with learning difficulties. Sitting in one of her Biology of the Brain lectures, I could not help but think back on the long and winding road we took as homeschoolers. This could have been a much longer and more difficult journey without Diane. Bravo Dianne, our family commends you!
Mel Levine’s book served to teach me that there are real differences in the outcomes for those who are not treated fairly by school systems. Their learning styles are blatantly ignored, and to add insult to injury, they are viewed as the dysfunctional individual, instead of a broken system. Accounts of some of his patients as to how the system failed them facilitated my determination to have a positive outcome for Yatri. On rare occasions when I felt that public school may be an option, I re-read the passages where he interviewed some of his patients to remind myself that I am on track, and just need to keep up homeschooling.
Having approached education with my younger son from a classical perspective, I knew the value of imitation. Yatri received much exercise from copying passages and poetry from books suggested in our core homeschooling program KONOS™. The missionaries, who were the representatives for this in Africa, also represented The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW™), and it is with this program that Yatri made the most progress. By now he was 12 and very aware of the delta between him and his peers. We joined a co-op class and the IEW™ methodology was well suited to a struggling young writer. From the start it seemed like a great fit. The girls in the class who wrote many pages while he could not muster a single sentence were not a positive experience. We started working on our own and from there on he quickly gained confidence in his own abilities, and made progress across the subjects of the integrated KONOS™ curriculum. Our persistence paid off. In 2010 we moved to the USA and bought many IEW™ materials. This was the only method we used to write. After years of practicing this methodology in various ways Yatri is now a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Engineering University, reading Aerospace Engineering.
Looking back on the cost of this
My hope is that through sharing our story we can assist other families who experience trying situations. Our family benefitted greatly from experts and help which exists, sometimes in, what you may think are unconventional places!