Every aspect of their lives is impaired. They are unable to gain reasonable employment (or) access to medical care, and they are unable to participate in many social opportunities. Illiteracy makes it impossible or, at least, extremely difficult to fill out job applications, use e-mail, read correspondence, grocery shop, take a driver’s test, or even participate in online dating.
Most of our illiterate clients must find someone they trust who can read for them when it becomes critical. This has resulted in many of our clients experiencing great personal losses when they discover that some people are not to be trusted. Most of our minimally literate clients have low self-esteem, are depressed, and have a persistent inability to trust others. This, for them, is not a false belief or a personality disorder but a fact based on reoccurring events in their lives. It colors all their interpersonal relationships and isolates them from the literate world.
Many of our clients with reading problems also have severe coding and decoding issues. We really appreciate that Reading Horizons allows our clients to repeat decoding lessons that are especially problematic for them individually. We did not expect it to work for our client who was told he would never be able to read due to his decoding and coding visual problems, but it is working.
Another client attended school in special education until age 19. Carl* never learned to read, and he never received individual instruction or tutoring in reading in the special education program. The client hid from the school bus and avoided school because he wasn’t able to make progress in the school environment. Seeing his record of failures in reading, educators and even medical personnel assumed he had a coding problem and would never be able to read. He was labeled "developmentally disabled," and he lived until age 40 believing that he would always be illiterate.
“I’m not developmentally disabled,” Carl pleaded, “I just can’t read.”
At that point, Carl started Reading Horizons. After three months working hard with Reading Horizons, he now reads at the second-grade level and looks forward to continuing his dramatic progress.
There was no question that allowed me to indicate how thrilling it is to see Carl* motivated to work hours on end and to see him make real progress. He is now solidly functioning at the second-grade level. Three months ago, he was labeled unable to learn to read and was below kindergarten level.
We address the total range of problems faced by many of our patients: homelessness, inadequate transportation, inability to cope with administrative paperwork, educational deficits, developmental disability, and inability to navigate health care systems. We use a combination of case-management services, psychotherapy, neurotherapy, and other biofeedback techniques to assist individuals to improve their ability to function and/or reduce their distress.
Our impact is probably strongest when we change an individual’s lifelong perceptions and offer a glimmer of hope that life can be different.
In a way, it is so much more rewarding than therapy in that it immediately and concretely improves every aspect of our clients’ lives. People are so thrilled that they can actually read and join literate society.
*Name has been changed