Austin’s So Happy to Learn Journey
We began working with Mrs. Brown in April 2019. After being on her wait list for a while, a spot finally opened and we were able to start in-person lessons.
When I say Austin was non-compliant, had extreme anxiety around anything to do with learning or school, and had a tiny attention span, it’s an understatement. The last academic placement had really done him in. While suing our school district fighting for proper inclusion, he had been forced out of school for almost an entire year. He had also recently gone through some pretty significant trauma, so when he finally got back into school, he was a wreck. Turning over chairs, running away, and pulling fire alarms so he would get sent home we’re just a few of his behaviors. He was a tiny, 7-year old terror in a state of fight or flight anytime he walked into a classroom. No matter what setting we had tried, and we tried them all, he just could not be successful in a traditional school. So we decided to pull him out and to home school. That’s when we were able to start with Mrs.Brown’ program.. What happened next has been life changing.
You’ll see in the beginning videos that Austin was having none of it when he started with Mrs. Brown. He was rude, non-compliant, manipulative and tested every boundary. It was heart breaking to watch. We knew there was a smart little boy in there who given the right tools and environment could really learn to love learning. We saw his loving, engaged, empathic side every day, but when it came to trying to teach him, he just shut down and became the worst version of himself.
Going to see Mrs. Brown was not just about teaching Austin, it was about educating us as his parents on how to work with him. It was about unlearning all of the bad habits traditional schooling and therapies had instilled in him. We had to unwind all of his low self-esteem, perfectionism, performance anxiety and general apathy he had for learning from years of being tested instead of taught. Having had so many IEPs and endless therapies that focused on what he couldn’t do instead of what he could, had created a shell around Austin that he had put up to protect himself. Learning wasn’t fun. Learning was something he struggled with. Learning was scary. He was constantly being corrected, told how to do things, and that had worn him down. After Mrs. Brown broke through his tough exterior, as only she could, a new Austin emerged. We saw him blossom into a hard working, focused, creative and respectful learner who began to love the process.
Mrs. Brown also discovered something that none of the previous extensive testing had shown, which is that Austin also has Dyslexia. Once that piece was unlocked, we were really able to help him better. Mrs. Brown has her own unique and brilliant method for teaching reading to a learner with Dyslexia. Once we began to implement those tools and teachings, his letter, sound and sight word recognition exploded. He’s on the path to becoming a fluent reader and his confidence level has skyrocketed.
Another piece of the program that is just as important as the reading, writing and math that it teaches is the life skills component. Mrs. Brown’s program focuses a lot on teaching appropriate communication, behaviors, and social skills. The program develops a life-long love for learning, which opens up so many possibilities for students to take the knowledge and skills they learn with Mrs. Brown and apply them to other life situations, jobs, family and social settings. Since starting the program, Austin is more productive and engaged not just in his school work, but in life as a whole. He has built the confidence and social skills through his work with Mrs. Brown to really participate meaningfully in many different activities and groups, where as before he lacked the desire and self-esteem to do so.
SOHTL has unlocked Austin’s full potential. It’s not just a curriculum or various sets of worksheets. It’s a lifestyle. It’s bottled magic. It’s the sum of all the many years of Terry Brown’s extensive experience teaching children who have Down syndrome and those with different learning styles, her spot-on intuition that is in every single intervention she uses, her unparalleled brilliance and deep passion for teaching children. We are so grateful for the program, and especially for Mrs. Brown.