When people ask me what ages I work with, I usually say “4 to 94.” That surprises them because they assume that I only work with school-age children and teenagers. It is true that over the last 10-12 years, most of my clients have been young, but one of my best experiences was with one of my adult clients, Lester.
When I first tested Lester, he was 43 years old. Lester was sent to me by his mother, who was very concerned about her son. Lester was so lonely and depressed that he confined himself to his apartment, only leaving for brief outings to the grocery store. He had not had a job in over three years. School was difficult for Lester because of various learning disabilities. He attended college for a short time, but found it to be overwhelming. Lester was married briefly, until the day his wife announced she wanted a divorce.
When I met Lester, he was severely depressed and did not make eye contact. One afternoon, after working with Lester twice a week for over two months, I was following him down the hall and suddenly realized that he was over six feet tall! When I began working with him, Lester walked with his head hanging down and shoulders slumped, but now he was walking tall and confidently! That’s why I love my job!
The results of Lester’s SOI test revealed why he struggled in school: while one-third of his profile was above average, his low scores were in cognition and visual memory. Lester’s auditory memory was gifted and auditory memory (with sequencing) was high average. In school, he seldom understood anything the first time it was taught, so he would use his excellent auditory memory to memorize concepts for the next test. Memorization is short-term memory, and, without understanding anything, semester exams were a nightmare for Lester. He performed better in subjects like social studies where the curriculum did not spiral. Naturally, math was extremely difficult for Lester.
After five months, Lester’s SOI retest showed that two-thirds of his subtests scores were high average or above, with eight average subtests, and only one low average subtest (math vocabulary). Lester was growing socially, as well. He was venturing out of his apartment, and decided to take videography courses. He also volunteered at his church to assist the person in charge of video and sound.
Lester continued to work with me once a week as well as with a company that helped him with his résumé and appearance. Lester soon realized that he would have to be more socially outgoing to be successful at videography, but wasn’t sure what to try. His mother wanted him to obtain enough schooling to have a career, not just a job. By this point, I could confidently tell Lester that going back into the classroom would be completely different from his previous experiences. Lester was still reluctant to go back to the classroom, but agreed to take some courses online
When I met with Lester’s mother early in January 2013, she told me that she was finished. She loved her son but she was tired of paying for his apartment and living expenses if he was not willing to go to school, earn some kind of certification, and get a job. We decided to lay it all out on the line when Lester walked in.
I informed Lester that his brain was so improved, that he would have no difficulty in school. His mother explained her frustration and told him that she would give him until the end of January to register for school and begin classes that would lead to a career. If he didn’t, she would begin to wean him off of her pocketbook. Lester stopped by the local community college that afternoon to meet with a counselor and register for classes. At his first class, Lester texted his mom from the front seat of the class to let her know he made it. Lester ended up choosing a program to become a medical coder/biller.
The first few weeks of class, Lester attended sessions with me to become organized and to learn study skills. Classmates were impressed with Lester’s color-coded organization and asked for his help. He made friends with three other students and they became study buddies. Lester weaned himself off session time; eventually, we only met once or twice a month.
Last month, Lester completed his final class; he maintained As throughout the program! He is currently taking study prep classes for the certification exam.
Lester’s voyage has not been a short one, but through his hard work, determination, and our help here at MindMenders, his mother believes he has become the man she always knew he could be. I do, too.
written by: Patricia Stafford, SOI Practitioner