At Center School in Abington, children with language-based learning difficulties discover a supportive community and gain the tools they need to thrive in and out of the classroom.
by Mindy Toran
Jojo Jarema spent years struggling with reading, writing, and math. He couldn’t keep up with his peers. He was afraid to raise his hand in class because he didn’t want to become the focus of the teacher’s attention. As a result, he dreaded going to school every day.
His mother, Kate Jarema, says his mounting anxiety made the simple task of getting him out the door every morning a challenge. “We were worried about his future,” she recalls.
Jojo had been evaluated for learning difficulties in kindergarten and was later diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability characterized by difficulty reading. Even so, he was able to make it through the first few years of grade school. By fourth grade, however, Jojo began struggling and was diagnosed with a vision disorder that further complicated his reading and writing difficulties. In addition, he was diagnosed with ADHD, as well as dysgraphia, a learning disability that impacts a person’s fine motor skills as well as their ability to organize their thoughts in writing, and dyscalculia, a learning disability that impacts an individual’s ability to learn math skills.
One day Kate caught wind of a school in Abington that specializes in helping children with language-based learning disorders and other learning disabilities. She hoped it would be the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. After reaching out to the school, Kate was able to have Jojo “shadow” some students at the school for two days.
“We had nothing to lose,” she says. “Our child’s future was at stake.”
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