My daughter, Rose Meurer, has Down syndrome. Rose attended a public school in Danville, KY. Despite all the support from the teachers and principal in 3rd grade her MAP scores (yearly academic tests that measure student growth from semester to semester) stayed stagnant for a full year. In the fall of 4th grade the first MAP scores again showed no growth. I consulted Carol Brown from Equipping Minds for advice. Carol evaluated Rose and designed a cognitive training program for her that specifically worked on visual and auditory processing speed, comprehension, short term, working and long term memory. Rose was able to phonetically read words at her grade level, but her comprehension was still a first grade level.
With the support of the school system, Carol worked with Rose an hour of every school day for the next 12 weeks. Below are the results of the MAP tests after that first 9 weeks and over the next 3 years. Rose has made incredible gains across the board. Please note – the work done with Carol was strictly cognitive training; no remedial subject work was done. However, it generalized to academics!
We continued working with Carol privately 3 days a week through the school year. Over the summer we did another 10 week daily program.
The summer between 5th and 6th grade we traveled extensively and we moved just prior to school starting. This was a big transition for Rose into middle school in a new city with all new friends. We only did about 2 weeks of cognitive exercises at the beginning of summer and then continued doing exercises at home but not in a strict fashion. During the school year we did a few daily exercises but not as intensively as in the past. This is the first time her MAP scores declined with the exception of science. I believe it was a result of not doing the cognitive exercises with fidelity.
We received her K-PREP scores for 6th grade in the late fall of 2014. I had not expected much considering her 6th Grade MAP scores, additionally the K-PREP being a more comprehensive test has historically been difficult for Rose. However, her results have further convinced me that it is this specific cognitive training that is helping her to acquire information and store it.
The new report also includes Students Growth Percentile (SGP). Kentucky considers a 40 or higher SGP as meeting the goal of yearly growth.
IN READING – Rose’s SGP was 93%!
IN MATH – Rose’s SGP was 63%!
Then we did more focused training throughout the summer between 6th grade and 7th grade for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, and we were back on track making gains on the MAP test!
In conclusion, I believe that Rose’s success is contributed not only to supportive teachers but undeniably through specific cognitive training exercises targeted to her areas of weakness. This past year we have been working more on logic, reasoning and abstract thinking. Some typical children and certainly those with special needs must have someone to “teach” their brains how to think, how to process information, and how to store information in the same way that kids with special needs may need physical therapy to teach them how to roll over as infants or how to put one foot in front of the other to walk. The specific cognitive exercises Rose does with Equipping Minds does just that for her brain. The other important thing to note is that Carol is continually changing the exercises as they are mastered and adapting the program for Rose. It’s this individualized targeting of cognitive areas that sets this program apart from other programs.
Just think, if this program can help a child with Down syndrome learn at this rate, imagine how it could help all children. My hope in sharing this information is that at a minimum remedial tutoring would be replaced with specific cognitive exercises and more hopefully that it would be incorporated into the teaching curriculum for every child.