Saving Lives, Building Futures

This article by Kathie Strooh was originally published as a Business Profile in, November 2018)

Educational Resources offers a life changing opportunity for anyone struggling with learning disabilities. Judy Hintz the owner and team leader saw the need for a language-based facility to help struggling students overcome their problems. As a kindergarten and 4th grade teacher and later as a special education teacher in the public school system, she became frustrated with the curriculum being taught. Judy realized reading was not being taught in a way students could learn and retain skills; they were sent to special education classes and were never sent back to regular classes. She saw a desperate need for a clinical program designed to individually help each student, giving parents an alternative to generic special education programs.

Judy has a master’s degree in learning and behavioral disorders from Drake University, is a licensed consultant for the State of Iowa and a trained diagnostician. When I asked how a parent would know their child needed help, Judy responded, “Look for kids emotionally on the edge, who have temper tantrums, who talk later than normal, have recurring ear infections, lost their motivation to learn, stumble over words when reading out loud, have been diagnosed with dyslexia, have an IEP, receive poor scores on the ACT, or your child may resist going to school.

Obviously, there are other warning signs. We do extensive research into each case beginning with a history of the student. Using age appropriate markers, we give the students four hours of tests to accurately assess their specific learning problems. Using a bank of standard assessments, the student then has a starting point. As
they progress through their individually designed programs we meticulously track them for improvement:’

“Many students come to Educational Resources with a diagnosis of dyslexia:’ Judy says, “This can manifest as word or letter reversals, difficulty in auditory discrimination, the inability to process information and many other symptoms. I find after systematic intensive phonics and specialized programming, the need for this
diagnosis is eliminated.

“Recently, a 9th grade boy enrolled in one of our programs. He was working at a first and second grade level and had been in special education for years. He was depressed and saw no future for himself. After 9 weeks with us, he displayed a positive attitude and showed marked improvement. At the end of his second nine-week program he was working at or above his current grade level. He now loves school, shows no signs of depression and is looking forward to bright future.

“A student from Chicago tested very low on the ACT, further testing analysis showed she was missing specific reading skills. Completing 27 hours of remedial activity, she retook the test and advanced 11 points. Not surprisingly, the ACT board questioned her extremely improved scores. With the new understanding we gave her at
Educational Resources she was able to prove her ability to succeed. Any Student with low ACT scores can achieve marked improvement by attending our classes.

“A few decades ago Iowa schools ranked second in national achievement; subsequently Iowa has slipped to nearly the 40th placement. The proficiency levels are the lowest in the United States only to be matched by the state of Illinois. They are so low they don’t support success in college;’ Judy says. ‘1\fter ten years of common core education, which tends to teach to the middle student, we know gifted students have lost the drive and focus needed for top level careers. An enrichment program at Educational Recourses does a lot to return them to a desire for top level achievement and their goals for excellence:’

Other than academic training, courses are offered to adults training for CPA tests, law school tests and many other areas where specialized testing is required. Classes are offered, to all students in the office and on line, with most clients using a combination of both.

If you don’t feel your child is reaching their potential, give Judy a call. With proper testing to find any road blocks in their understanding, they develop a love for learning that will take them far in life.

Judy’s philosophy is, “Live it, dream it, love if’ She believes in your child’s ability to succeed even when the school system has given them the label of a dyslexia, a slow learner, or as an emotionally disruptive student. When you enter the door at Educational Resources you see this simple sign on the wall, Believe!

Dyslexia, Proceed with Caution

In today’s world, Dyslexia is thought to be a common learning disorder; it is characterized by individuals who have difficulty in reading and spelling. Other symptoms may include poor memory of spoken and written words, and a tendency to jumble or mix up letters.

While some believe dyslexics make up 20% of the population, others who are more experienced, define this disorder as very rare and tends to run in families. I stand in the latter camp and have noted that dyslexia may run from mild to very severe in the same family. True dyslexia is thought to be a life-long diagnosis. In other words, “Once a dyslexic, always a dyslexic!”

It has been my experience that the majority of students have relief of all of their symptoms with appropriate training. In the repair process, skills need to be carefully assessed, sequenced and intensified. All of this is missing in today’s educational delivery.

A few months ago, a very scared and sad second grade student came to Educational Resource Associates for testing. She had been seeing a private therapist who diagnosed her with dyslexia. The child was aware of this as she had been present with the parents during the testing report.

The therapist spent months forcing her diagnosis upon the child. She read dyslexia related books and verbally attempted to train this very sensitive youngster to “celebrate” dyslexia! Her parents reported she cried and protested this “therapy” for months. The parents were perplexed and in attempting to do the best for their daughter, sought my services.

Initial evaluations found word reversals, letter scrambling and visual tracking issues. Difficulty in auditory processing was evident. After 75 hours in systematic intensive phonics, visual training and oral language, all of these symptoms were alleviated, and her reading scored two years above grade level. She left a confident and happy child – dyslexia free!! Why??? Because she never really had it.

In addition to the dyslexia determination, a parent may hear their child also has Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Dysnomia. Parents may panic, but these are not brain disorders, only labels representing needed language, math and writing skills.

Recently, the State of lowa trained nearly 1000 teachers in screening for “dyslexia”. I cringe when I think of all the mislabeling and placement into special education these teacher will recommend. Its really, the kiss of death for students.

Choosing a private learning center can be overwhelming. Asking for references may be your first step. Parents need to check the credentials of an experienced and master’s degree professional who has extensive testing experience in all areas. If professionals make claims as consultants or dyslexia testers, check carefully the type of training they have and if it is a college degree, or a simple one-day workshop. This step is critical. Take the time to do the research and make the best decision possible. Going with a program that makes the most sense is always recommended. If you don’t understand it, don’t do It!

I am often asked why the United States has so many”disabled” students that fail to exist in other countries. When did this “defective student” philosophy begin? Simply put, it happened when reading approaches, became sight methods rather than intensive phonics and when “rote, recall, and drill” was abandoned by educators. Blaming the student abounds today! Moreover, increased funding to “reward” failure is a motivator in our educational system.

In closing, I share with you a very simple rule when seeking help for yourself, your children and grandchildren. “The simplest answer is usually the best, call a highly trained professional”

Problems at School?

Many pre-first graders are referred to me because their children have trouble “sight” reading the words at kindergarten level. And yes, I’ve even seen this trickle down to 4-year-old curriculum!

Reading by “sight” for these very young students is hampered by lack of readiness skills such as visual discriminations, visual tracking and left to right orientation. We effectively build these backgrounds and also add systematic intensive phonics, with the assistance of the parents, and these youngsters are soon on the road to success!

Unfortunately, the current sight word method demanded by Common Core is most like an adult being given 80 Chinese characters and expected to memorize them without any “unlocking” process (systematic phonics). Put yourself in these young student’s shoes and you will understand their frustration.

It is very simple to look for signs of reading failure at such a young age. Temper tantrums, not wanting to go to school as well as refusal to do homework, all indicate that intervention is needed.

Expressive and receptive language skills are the foundation of learning. Problems with late talking, lack of eye contact, ear infections and tubes, are red flags. Getting help at an early age will set the foundation of academic achievement. In addition, intensive language programming by parents and their teachers can result in an avoidance of autism labeling at a later date.

Common Core curriculum in the area of math demand a higher level of comprehension than previous curriculum. Teaching the “language” of this approach and applying it to content is a very involved process, but very effective in helping children.

A student who fails to listen at school is often mislabeled a behavioral problem. This is often not the case but a reflection of language and the poor processing of language.

ACT scores that show low scores in Reading and English subtests can often mean a reading difficulty in structural analysis (reading longer words), reading speed or comprehension. A score of 17 and under in these subtests are cause for concern, even if the student has a GPA of 3.5 and above. This lack of skills can be fixed and along with test preparation can result in a significant increase score.

Summer is around the corner and is a great time to make significant gains. Our “summer intensive” can get a student caught up – no matter how behind they are.

At ERA learning builds confidence and confidence builds a happier student and family.

Educational Resource Associates is an educational diagnostic and remedial center for ages two through adults. Our high level of expertise and experience is reflected in our client’s successes who come locally and from all over the United States. We’ve been doing this for over 35 years!

Reading, math, study skills, written language, spelling and pre-school readiness are just some of our programs. Test prep such as ACT, SAT, GRE and many others are also available on an individual basis.

Pre-testing of all students allows us to individualize all learning. No two students have the same need; therefore, no two students have the same program.