Hi! My name is Carolyn Lunger. I am a home school mom of 8. I have several kids with autism and several with epilepsy. I found Mrs. Brown and the So Happy to Learn program while searching for my youngest son, Falcon. My son has acquired brain injury from epileptic encephalopathy. He also has autism, apraxia, and ADHD. His encephalopathy has caused a global delay that makes learning in general a struggle.
Even though he was receiving plenty of SPED services through our independent study charter school, he was still struggling. His progress was always slow and eventually, it just plateaued. When he turned 6, he started deteriorating cognitively and behaviorally. He once knew his colors, letters, and numbers, and at age 8, he suddenly forgot his colors, numbers, and letters, including being unable to recognize his name and remember who his sisters were. His behaviors were becoming aggressive and impulsive. He was irritable and angry all the time. He could not speak in complete sentences, and his speech was jumbled and sometimes hard to understand. At one point, all he could utter was one-word phrases, if he could talk. Where did my easy-going, happy-go-lucky child go? The doctors kept saying it was his autism, yet I knew there was more.
While our medical system spent several years trying to figure out what was happening with him, I invested my energy in learning about Mrs. Brown’s program. Somewhere deep inside, I just knew this was what he needed. I knew he had anxiety. I knew he was fearful of disappointing himself and others. He once told me, “Mom, I can’t remember things so good anymore.” He would shut down and completely lose it when someone asked him a question and drilled him. I also knew that he was not ready for phonics. He was having some sequencing and auditory processing issues. I kept thinking I needed to find a way to decrease his anxiety and build his confidence back up. I needed something that would gently present information repeatedly, but done respectfully. I needed something that would rehabilitate his brain yet mend his soul. I needed something even to heal my soul if I was going to help him. Mrs. Brown’s website was unlike any other website I have ever seen for any curriculum. It was unique. Although my son did not have Down Syndrome, it did not matter to me. What mattered was the methods. The website was beautiful, positive, and hopeful. It had pictures of real children with special needs doing the best work they could and were honored for that. That was what my soul needed to hear and see. That is how I knew this program would be the program for us. I needed to accept my son for where he was, meet him there, and move forward.
I studied this program. I took notes on Mrs. Brown’s conference calls, scoured her website, and watched all the videos on her teaching Facebook page, including some of her students’ old videos. I wanted to follow her students from when they started to where they are now. I learned the essential five components of her sessions, plus the opening and closing and most importantly I practiced her script. I watched and listened to how she spoke to her students and reacted to them. I quickly gathered the materials to make the components.
Everything she said made sense and resonated with me. What began as a search for a program to teach him to read, I soon realized the program targeted sensory, fine motor skills, visual-motor skills, speech and language, math, conversations, writing, behaviors, working independently, manners, and playing board games with dice. It is all-encompassing and extremely flexible to customize just at your child’s level. We could target every subject and skill area daily within a 45-minute session. What a powerful and effective method.
I started the program on November 17, 2020. I had a child who eloped, kicked, screamed, cursed and threw things when it came to table work. He was resistant to pick up a writing implement. These behaviors happened with me or with anyone else online or off. I had decided to stop every single other program and curriculum that was happening. I devoted everything to So Happy To Learn. I had taken a video and uploaded it to the teaching page, and immediately Mrs. Brown responded, providing feedback and uplifting me and my teaching methods. She walked me every step of the way suggesting new things to try and when it was time to move to the next level. I didn’t teach him where I expected him to be. I avoided asking him questions such as “What is this? What is that?” I taught him right where he was by modeling the correct answer or way to answer a question.
After settling into a routine and gaining my son’s trust, he started relearning his colors, numbers, and letters. He started reading words and sentences and copying letters and sentences. For years he could not count beyond ten, and suddenly, he could count beyond 20. He quickly picked up the happy dots and started adding by “counting on” within a few weeks. He could draw and color. Even his hand grip improved. The simple act of circling every word while reading targeted one-to-one correspondence and tracking while also helping him close his mid-line and work on fine motor and visual-motor skills. Go stops taught him the correct direction for reading and writing and helped him cross the mid-line. He also developed pen control with go stops.
Within a few months of playing the compliments and questions game. I had a child interested in learning about the world around him, asking questions, conversing, and staying on topic. Less than six months later, this child could go to the table and do several happy sheets independently. These happy sheets provide the students the review needed with new content with a familiar structure. There are no complicated directions and instructions. It is exactly what my son needed to feel successful.
Now my son can write a short sentence, can read a variety of simple books, and loves to have beautiful discussions about various topics. He can even do simple algebraic equations involving greater than and less than in parenthesis. He learned all these things from modeling. He is a happy child now who loves life and learning new things. No other program exists for special needs children that focus on the self-care of the parents and teachers, Mrs. Brown’s videos and teaching page gradually healed my soul so I could teach my son. It opened my heart to appreciate what he could do, and he finally felt safe because I accepted him. Mrs. Brown’s program allowed me to help unlock my son’s true potential. I am grateful for Mrs. Brown and her program as well as all the wonderful families and teachers. It was well-invested hard work to learn her program. It is a simple, yet powerful and effective method that focuses on building a relationship with your learner. She has trained me well and I continue to teach my son as well as other students and parents The So Happy to Learn way.