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Jade (not her real name) first came to Fit 2 Learn in September 2015. This case study was written 12 months later (Sept. 2016) by her foster carer.
Jade is a lively, fun loving girl with determination and a kind nature.
She experienced early life abuse and neglect whilst in the care of birth family members. Since being removed from the family at 5, she has had multiple placements. She has been with us since December 2013 and we are now her permanent carers.
Prior to starting the Fit 2 Learn programme
Jade presents challenging behaviours for us and her school to deal with.
At home, her most challenging times are when she has a ‘meltdown’. It is hard to put into words how scary some moments can be (for her and us). She will hit us, swear at us and at times we worry for her safety and ours. These episodes can last for hours and at our most challenging times, they can occur daily.
Outside of these times, Jade displays challenging behaviours on a daily basis, including defiance, rudeness, lying and stealing.
She is very anxious and sometimes doesn’t want to leave the house. She is especially anxious when travelling on public transport (we once witnessed an act of violence involving an adult and child on a tram which we feel has triggered this) or when she sees a group of teenage boys.
There have been times when there have been multiple incidents at school in any one week regarding Jade. She has escaped from school before and once a new system was put in place which meant she couldn’t get out, she then started climbing the railings.
She is behind at school and we have concerns that unless we put in measures, she will slip behind further.
Jade also has problems with friendships. She is able to make friends, but struggles to keep them. These problems with friends are often the trigger for the behaviours mentioned above.
Unfortunately, she is unable to discuss her problems with anyone, let alone the feelings that she has about them. She bottles these up and they come out in her behaviour. This includes dealing with things from the past. If anyone tries to talk to her about her birth family, she puts her hands over her ears.
During her low periods, she says she hates herself and that she sometimes wants to die.
Fit 2 Learn Programme
We had our assessment with Charlotte who recommended that we use enlarged text, that her teacher minimises requests for her copying from the board and that we should start Tomatis therapy, which we did.
I was worried that Jade would refuse to do it and how we would fit it into our day. However, the school agreed that we could go in late on the days we were going to do it and I was pleasantly surprised that Jade actually enjoyed it.
We also started doing the exercises with Jade. She has put up some resistance with these though. We try to do them as often as we can.
The school have noted that Jade is calmer since starting the Tomatis therapy. At home, we haven’t noticed much difference at this stage, but we feel she is a little calmer.
We completed the second round of Tomatis. There have been no calls from Jade’s school regarding her behaviour this month – for the first month in memory!
With the exception of a couple of meltdowns around Christmas time, Jade continues to be much calmer and better behaved, both at school and at home.
The third round of Tomatis is complete. We have had no ‘meltdowns’ this month and things are generally calmer.
There has been a continual improvement in Jade’s behaviour. She was able to manage a week away on a residential holiday with PGL and there were no phone calls home regarding her behaviour (which has been a first – last time she was nearly sent home!)
Some days it actually feels ‘normal’ at home. We realised there had previously been a constant level of stress in the home and there have been many times this month where family life has been purely joyful. She seems genuinely much happier and not scared to go out anymore.
My anxiety levels have also improved – I am sleeping better and generally happier and healthier.
Jade has now started weekly sessions with Fit 2 Learn with Daleen, the Cognitive Visual Integration Therapist. She also completed her 4th round of Tomatis. Charlotte and Daleen pre-warned us that we would probably see a decline in Jade’s behaviour in the coming weeks as her senses were all going to come together, meaning that she would be dealing with things she has shut out for a long time. They also told us that she may suddenly be willing / wanting to talk about her past.
Fit 2 Learn has also started to do some gross motor skills exercises with Jade, in addition to what we do at home.
Around 6 weeks after starting the sessions with Daleen, Jade suddenly wanted to know everything about her past. Her social worker visited and went through everything with her.
Her behaviour has been erratic, but we were expecting this.
Jade finished her 5th round of Tomatis at the beginning of the month.
For the middle two weeks of the month, Jade displayed some extremely challenging behaviours – some that we hadn’t experienced for months and certainly more emotions than we have seen before (she has never been a big cryer, but we have had lots of tears).
The behaviours have since somewhat diminished.
Thoughts so far and the future
Everything that Charlotte and Daleen have said would happen so far, has happened.
I have to admit that at first, I was a bit sceptical regarding the programme as Fit 2 Learn’s claims seemed bold and their aspirations high. However, after seeing the initial results, I am so excited for what else is to come.
They feel that Jade will continue to improve, both in behaviour and in her cognitive ability. Not only will this mean that she is able to function better at home and school, but it will also ensure that she can learn life lessons, meaning she can navigate the world and make sensible choices.
Thank you so much to all the Fit 2 Learn team.
Assessment of 11 year old students
Over a 2 year period, Fit 2 Learn assessed 40 South London students aged 11 years. None of the students had achieved satisfactory SATs in Year 6 of primary schoo. Fit 2 Learn found that all 40 students struggled with aspects of motor skill control, bi-lateral integration, mid-line crossing, sound processing, control of binocular vision and cognitive visual processing.
Unless these students change their physiology, they will continue to struggle to cognitively process and to understand basic concepts. They need more fundamental interventions than just extra numeracy and literacy tuition.
Read or download the paper here: Who are the Level 3 Students
Tomatis Award for Fit 2 Learn Case Study
In May 2016, Fit 2 Learn was awarded the prize for best case study at the international Tomatis convention in Paris, France.
The case study describes how Fit 2 Learn helped a young adult that had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and was struggling with a range of symptoms that were steadily worsening. Over a period of about a year, Fit 2 Learn helped improve the client’s gross motor skills, and auditory and visual processing.
More case studies
The following narratives relate to children* who have undergone a course of treatment with Daleen Smith, Cognitive Visual Integration (CVI) Therapist.
If it is possible to significantly improve the cognitive processing skills of a person diagnosed as having learning difficulties, then it is also possible to improve the processing skills of people of average intelligence using similar methods, and thereby improve the average intelligence of the general population.
Notes: All names have been changed
Steven* went through school until the age of 14 with a record of low level behavioural problems and having to work very hard to keep up. He was diagnosed with double vision and associated problems. Steven had 12 months of CVI therapy. Following therapy, he went to the top of the year group and his behaviour was significantly calmer.
Wendy* was 13 years old, long-sighted with poor stereopsis of vision. She struggled to progress at secondary school and found sport particularly difficult as she could not participate in ball games. She also had difficulty making friends with any of her peer group. She underwent CVI Therapy and consequently her sporting, academic and social skills improved. She is now preparing for university entry.
Al* was 6 years old, but his development was arrested at 3½ years of age. He had lost most of his vision as well as the use of his left limbs. Al underwent 18 months of CVI therapy, followed by catch-up tutoring. Now, aged 14 years old, Al has skipped Year 9 and is at the top of Year 10.
Norah* was 6 years old and struggling to progress at Primary school. She had poor coordination and memory skills, and found it difficult to organise herself. She underwent CVI Therapy followed by tuition to help her catch-up academically. By 11 years old she had passed her 11 plus and progressed to the local grammar school.
Kele* was 17 years old and had been expelled from 8 schools; his parents had been banned from the premises of 4 schools. Kele undertook CVI therapy and 12 months later his college phoned to say that the student was now calmer, studying a L3 qualification and thriving.
Ryan* was an occasional school refuser and had attempted suicide. There was a big gap between his verbal skills and his written skills. He was unable to plan extended written work, had a very poor sense of time and had no appreciation of delayed gratification. After 18 months CVI therapy, Ryan moved to the top of his year.
Ade* was 7 years old and had been diagnosed with ADHD. He had no visual memory and a history of behavioural problems. Ade had 18 months of CVI therapy plus some follow-up tutoring. Now aged 14 years old, he has settled in mainstream school, performing well and on course to study 13 GCSE’s.
Zoe* had experienced developmental problems from birth. She had poor coordination and did not speak. She struggled in a small private school that was quite reluctant to keep her. She underwent CVI Therapy and gained control of her gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Once she had gained stereopsis of vision, she spoke for the first time and was able to express her feelings of anger at how she was treated by the other pupils. She developed reasonable skills in numeracy and literacy, before moving on.