Shani Bloom was a dream baby. She was an early walker and talker, potty trained without a fuss and was a happy, easy-going toddler. Although her older siblings required early intervention therapies, Shani seemed to have gotten a free pass. But when Shani entered Kindergarten her mother started noticing that things were not quite right. As her classmates were getting very familiar with the alphabet, Shani still struggled to recognize letters and could not connect letters and sounds.
In first grade, Shani would spend hours each night completing her homework. “There were many nights that I’d sit with Shani for three hours while she did her homework,” exclaimed Mrs. Bloom. “Shani couldn’t focus properly, or complete a task without getting distracted. She had trouble reading and lacked comprehension skills. I knew something was very wrong.” Mrs. Bloom spoke to Shani’s teachers and they agreed she needed extra help in the classroom, but even after a few months it didn’t seem to help.
At the end of third grade, Shani’s teacher approached her parents and explained that she would benefit from SETSS (Special Education Teacher Support Services), so they applied for the next school year. After a long and arduous evaluation process, Mrs. Bloom was told that Shani didn’t qualify because in one area she was only 33% delayed, not the required 25% for all areas. “I told the representative from the Committee of Special Education that she needed to accept my daughter, not just for Shani but for my sanity too. It had become too much for the both of us, Shani was refusing to go to school because she was so miserable. I had to bribe her every day to walk into her classroom.” Thankfully, the representative was convinced and Shani was accepted. She began the program immediately, with the Wilson Reading System as the first action item. After a short time her reading improved somewhat, but it wasn’t enough and upon completing the literacy program Shani was still not reading at grade-level.
“It was more than just reading, writing and spelling,” said Mrs. Bloom. “Shani couldn’t follow directions and she found it difficult to understand instructions that included more than one step. She also couldn’t grasp the concept of size. For example, if I asked her to grab me a salad bowl for dinner, she’d bring me a little dipping bowl. Shani would also misjudge situations, she’d completely misread the weather, for example. I’d tell her it was snowing outside and she’d get dressed for school in a summery dress with no coat.”
When Mrs. Bloom reached out to the SETSS provider voicing her concern that Shani wasn’t really progressing, the provider’s only recommendation was medication. She explained that although Shani was struggling she was inherently smart, and medication would allow her to concentrate for a couple of years while she caught up to her classmates. “Although I’d do anything for my daughter, I was not ready to medicate her,” explained Mrs. Bloom. “I decided to try other methods I had read about. Our family got a dog to help Shani with sensory input. I enrolled her in afterschool art classes, singing classes, you name it. I read that helping a child with their physical coordination can affect their mental wellbeing as well, so I signed Shani up for gymnastics classes too. These classes helped channel her hyperactiveness, and helped her self-confidence, however she continued to struggle academically. In addition, Shani had a difficult time socially. She didn’t understand social cues or what was appropriate, for example, she’d laugh at a classmate who was crying.”
When Shani was in fifth grade, a friend of Mrs. Bloom invited her to a Neurolinks information session. This friend also had a son who was struggling and she thought that Neurolinks might help, however she did not want to go to the event alone. “I thought I was merely being a supportive friend,” said Mrs. Bloom, “but by the end of the evening I was convinced that Neurolinks was perfect for Shani. After the event, I approached Yehudis Klein, the Neurolinks Director, and bombarded her with questions. She was incredibly patient and explained every aspect of the program.” After her conversation with Yehudis, Mrs. Bloom realized that the reason SETSS wasn’t working was that the program targeted the wrong things. Shani was having trouble with memory, task completion, reading comprehension, writing, and so many other things – the Neurolinks program would target all of these problem areas. Mrs. Bloom was sold, it was only a matter of convincing her husband that the monetary investment was worth it. In just a few weeks Mr. Bloom was on board too, and Shani was evaluated. After her evaluation Yehudis explained that Neurolinks’ Physio-Neuro Therapy program would help target the underlying causes of Shani’s problems, instead of acting as a band-aid solution like the other programs she had already tried. The Blooms needed no more convincing, they signed Shani up for Neurolinks.
“It was a lot of work, and a lot of driving as we drove in from Queens,” recalled Mrs. Bloom. “Although the exercises were fun for Shani, more game-like than therapy, it was still difficult to get Shani to sit for 45 minutes every day. She was a young, active girl, who wanted to run outside and play, not sit and do more work after having spent a whole day at school.” Mrs. Bloom decided that a treat was in order, if Shani completed the program she would be rewarded with a mother-daughter trip to Israel. That was all Shani needed to hear to throw herself into the program. After that, it didn’t take too long for the Blooms to see improvement. One day, a couple of months into the program, Mrs. Bloom spied Shani reading a chapter book, and by the end of the week she had completed the entire book. Her writing also improved tremendously, instead of misspelling and illegible words written all over the page, Shani’s handwriting was now neat and tidy, with every sentence written in a straight line. “Shani had worked with an occupational therapist in the past, but the therapist was pretty unsuccessful. After a few months of Neurolinks, her handwriting is better than mine!”
“Not only did Neurolinks help Shani in extraordinary ways,” said Mrs. Bloom, “it also improved our mother-daughter relationship. We would spend quality time, 45 minutes each week, driving to and from Neurolinks. The instructor was also incredible, she would compliment Shani on her progress and would patiently answer all our questions. The best part though, was that she would not let Shani move onto another task without completely mastering the previous one. I was very impressed by how diligent the instructor was, she genuinely cared that Shani succeeded.” After 7 months, Shani completed the program and she is now a changed person. She is a conscientious and successful student, she works hard and achieves good grades. She still attends gymnastic class and has become quite a pro over the years, but now she knows how to channel her hyperactivity. For example, Shani will often put on music to help her focus on various tasks. “I see a bright future for Shani, my dream is for her to attend college and when she does, I’ll be able to say that Neurolinks helped her get there!”