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The story of HOPE – One life transformed launched a movement that would reach the world

An amazing story about one family’s struggle and the transformation that resulted.

How it started

Medical professionals told Amy that her son, Jacob, would never be able to live a normal life. They said he would constantly struggle with seeing, reading, grasping academic concepts, and other challenges. The doctors told her that the impossibilities were insurmountable. Amy was not willing to accept this prognosis. She worked with Jacob for eight hours per day, implementing what is now the IWBMC™ methodology.

Today, Jacob is a thriving, more than capable adult in his 30s, serving as a provider in the Hope School Program at Jacob’s Ladder.

Jacob’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication, and a willingness to try different approaches when traditional methods fail. His mom, Amy, founder of The Jacob’s Ladder Group, knew that her son was capable of much more than what the medical professionals had predicted. She was determined to help him live a full and happy life.

The difference is in the details

One of the biggest challenges that Jacob faced was learning to read. He had been exposed to individual alphabet letters for three years but could not learn them. Amy tried a different approach and wrote high-interest reading words for Jacob, such as vehicles, construction equipment (Tonka trucks!), favorite animals, and foods. Jacob could anchor and recall these words easily. This approach is known as whole-word reading, which is a right hemisphere function, connecting the information to something you understand about “the whole,” not the individual part.

Whole-word reading allows children to learn to read well by sight words, while phonetic reading can be introduced later and will make more sense as a part of the whole in the context of mastered words. Jacob could read fifth-grade-level material before he could name letters fluidly in isolation, which is a testament to the effectiveness of whole-word reading.

This whole-word reading method allowed Jacob to connect the information to something he understood as a whole rather than just individual parts.

Sadly, many children like Jacob are overlooked and labeled “slow learners.” No matter how strong their innate intelligence is, all “the Jacobs” in the world will be labeled and classified otherwise. And most will not be allowed to truly learn. This is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.

As educators, professionals, and parents, it is our responsibility to recognize that children learn in different ways.

Whole-word reading is just one example of an approach that can significantly impact a child’s learning journey. Children who learn by this method can learn to read well by sight words, and phonetic reading can be introduced later to make more sense in the context of mastered words.

Jacob’s success is a powerful example of how perseverance, dedication, and a willingness to try new approaches can make a significant difference in a child’s life.

Amy’s refusal to accept the prognosis that her son would never live a normal life shows that we have the power to facilitate change if we are willing to see that each child learns differently.

There are feasible ways to meet individual needs – even in classroom settings. We must be patient, understanding, and open to new ideas and methods. We must recognize that every child is unique and requires a unique approach to learning. By doing so, we can help children like Jacob learn to read and grow to their full potential.

Learn more about The Jacob’s Ladder Group’s Model of Care.

Read other Success Stories like Jacob’s.

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