Joanne Mitchell, of Cherry Hill, NJ, always made education a priority in her children’s lives. So when her son, Daniel, was unable to recognize the spelling of his own name, constantly pushing books away in kindergarten, she knew something was wrong. From that point on she was determined to get him the help he needed. However, nothing could prepare her for the journey that would lie ahead.
“From being misdiagnosed with ADD, to being placed in “self contained” special education classes, I felt like no one was really focusing on the true issue at hand,” continued Joanne. “As time progressed, he began showing signs of frustration and shutting down. I became really concerned.”
It wasn’t until Dan was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 7 by Richard Selznick, PhD, Director, Cooper Learning Center (CLC) that the Mitchell family got some clear answers and direction.
As part of Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper, CLC is distinguished as the region’s only child-learning program affiliated with a university-level medical center, offering parents and children easy access to the most advanced, scientifically proven methods for accurately assessing and treating children’s learning difficulties.
“I always refer to the Cooper Learning Center as a godsend,” said Joanne. “They immediately developed a plan of action for Dan’s unique situation and made sure he received one-on-one tutoring sessions, focusing on reading and writing exercises. Little by little, his confidence began to grow.”
Since Dan’s dyslexia was so profound, his learning disability required a high level of individualized attention and perseverance over the years.
“Children like Dan require highly specialized remediation, delivered patiently and supportively over time. All of the best research highlights the value of early intervention with the right approaches. You can’t rush this process,” explained Dr. Selznick. “Beside the assessment and remediation, so much of the success was due to Dan’s positive personality and the incredible support and advocacy that he received from his parents. They really made things happen for Dan both in and out of school.”
Dan also acknowledges the positive impact that the Cooper Learning Center staff had, not only on his grades in school, but toward his appreciation for reading.
“The instructors from the CLC really became like a second family to me,” said Dan. “They made me feel comfortable and I slowly began to appreciate reading and how important it was for my academics. It’s become something I have really grown to enjoy.”
Over the years, Dan began showing remarkable improvement. Dan was able to get good grades in high school and he also received the Character Recognition Certificate upon graduation.
“If anyone deserved a character recognition award, it was Dan,” said Dr. Selznick. “He was one of the most positive kids I have known over the years.”
“Dan learned a lot about himself over the years from all of the staff he interacted with at the Cooper Learning Center and he became a tremendous self-advocate,” said Joanne. “This gave him the confidence he needed for college.”
In December 2011, Dan, now 23, graduated from Holy Family University with a Bachelors Degree in Communications/Public Relations and a Minor in Business and Marketing Management. He is currently interning at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in the Public Relations Department.