From an early age Craig always loved having someone read stories to him, but when he started school he loathed reading and writing and homework was a battleground. It would have been easy to label him as “clever but lazy”: he had an incredibly high verbal IQ but low performance in literacy. His mother, Fiona, suspected dyslexia but the school did not want to test to find out. Irlen lenses helped with some aspects but did not seem to “cure” his learning difficulties.
When it came to reading, his main strategy was to guess, based on the pictures and the first letter of the word. Craig was an amazingly good guesser and hid his difficulties well, but he felt keenly that his classmates were racing ahead with reading when he was struggling so much. It just didn’t add up – he knew he was clever so why couldn’t he do it?
One day, he started to pack up his books into a box to sell at a car boot sale. When I said he should keep them for when he got better at reading he said, “There is no point, I’m rubbish at reading. I’ll never be able to read these so someone else should have them.” It was a heart-breaking moment for Fiona.
In Primary Three his reading age was tested as 21 months behind his actual age. The school were still not concerned and said he would learn at his own pace. Fiona disagreed, and decided to give give Easyread a try.
Craig has Aspergers and is very rule-driven. He hated the fact that the phonics rules taught at school didn’t work – for instance he was taught that “ou” spells the sound “ow” (as in loud or proud) but that didn’t work for soup or group. So he just ignored the rules and memorized the words, which didn’t work as a strategy for long.
Easyread suited Craig perfectly because the rules are never broken. He has a very visual memory and could 100% rely that the Owl with a Scowl picture represents the sound “ow” every time without exception.
Also, Craig shared narrator David’s sense of humour and loved learning all the Easyread characters like the Uncle with the Carbuncle.
Fiona was surprised at how keen Craig was to do Easyread every day. Whilst battles over homework each night were still of epic proportions, he always did his 10 minutes of Easyread in the mornings without complaint even in the holidays and weekends. He hasn’t missed a day yet, even when he was off school with the sick bug!
The results have been better than ever imagined. In only 4 months on Easyread, Craig’s reading age went up by an astonishing 19 months! He still improves daily and Fiona now believes he may end up with a reading age beyond his actual age. He is now confident in decoding words he doesn’t know and he very rarely guesses. His whole attitude to reading has changed. Now he happily reads to himself and Fiona often finds him at night, lying in bed, fast asleep still wearing his glasses with a book beside him! He has started engaging with text around him, reading cereal packets and signs where he would never have tried before.
Craig’s family are now able to celebrate his dyslexic, autistic, creative, brilliant mind without having to battle over reading every day. In fact, reading has become such a joy that it’s hard to imagine a day passing where he doesn’t pick up a book for pleasure. He recently said to Fiona, “I love reading so much I am going to read for the rest of my life!”. What a turnaround in only 4 months!
Fiona says: “Tonight when I tucked him into bed he whispered – “Mum, I have a secret! I can actually read Captain Underpants now! I read 5 whole books last night!” (Easyread has not cured him of his tendency to exaggerate!) I cannot find words that can thank Easyread enough. David and his team have given Craig the gift of reading which will make his whole life at school less exhausting as well as opening doors for learning that were barred to him before. Thank you Easyread!”
Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for the Easyread System, and has been delighted to oversee Craig’s brilliant progress on the course in recent months. Easyread is an online course that uses innovative visual phonics to resolve poor literacy due to dyslexia, auditory processing weakness, sight-reading and more.