Every time I’ve pulled into the parking lot of The Morris Center our last week, my eyes would well up with tears and a lump would form in my throat. I would quickly blink away the tears and proceed with my regular routine. Then on Wednesday, as I pulled in for a 1:00 meeting, I saw my nephew, Brady, walking side-by-side with Dr. Conway. Completely unaware of my presence, they continued their conversation, smiling, talking and laughing. Brady tilted his head up to make eye contact with Dr. Conway as he told him something, and I lost it. I flashed back to a similar moment, just 4 months earlier. The same two, walking side-by-side and talking, but with a distinct difference. Brady’s head hung, his eyes never left the ground and the slump of his shoulders told the story. This was a kid that was discouraged. He was tired of working harder than his friends and still not closing the gap in learning. A kid ready to just give up.
So, what changed? I think there’s a multitude of factors. The first would be the people of The Morris Center. They are just the best. They connect with these kids on a deeper level than just instruction. They understand what motivates each child. When working in a session, the staff empower these kids to believe in their learning abilities….and answer questions with assertiveness, not doubt. The staff also recognizes times when self-regulation is needed for optimal learning, and they offer the kids strategies to do so. They have truly taken a holistic approach to the interventional therapies that best align with each child’s learning needs.
Other factors that can be attributed to the changes we’ve seen have more to do with Brady. Brady is different now. It feels like he’s grown up the last 4 months. The intensity and frequency of this program doesn’t change. It will challenge Brady to the very last day. Early on, he would come home wiped out….complaining of headaches, tired of learning, etc. But as time went along, we saw that shift. Suddenly, he wasn’t complaining about going. He was having an “ah ha” moment for himself. THIS IS WORKING! Learning is getting easier. He had good things to say about his days. He was bragging about how many words he read or what he conquered in OT. He was processing information faster and “finding his words” when explaining things to us. The world started looking different for him. He was reading street signs and billboards. Dr. Conway himself got a little choked up retelling a conversation he had with Brady during a trip to get ice cream (it was Brady’s birthday):
(In line at the ice cream place….not the exact conversation but close)
Brady: What does “optical supplies” mean?
Dr. Conway: (probably puzzled by the question). What do you think? It’s probably a place similar to where Avery went to get her glasses. Where did you hear that word?
Brady: (pointed across the street at a business)
Dr. Conway: How did you know it said that? How could you just read that?
Brady: (shrugged) I just read it. (BIG SMILE)
Four months ago, Brady wouldn’t have even attempted to read that sign. Today he is different. Today he believes in himself and his ability to learn without as much struggle. His confidence continues to grow each time his book reading level climbs. For the first time, he’s seeing his true potential and he’s working hard to get there.
Thanks to The Morris Center, Brady’s 4th grade school year will look and feel different for him. Instead of seeing the classroom as a place of frustration and failure, he will hopefully see it as a place of potential and success. And he may just find that books can actually be as entertaining as video games….