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Remember Me

Posted by: thepinetree on 07/09/2015 12:18 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 07/09/2015 01:01 PM
Expires: 01/01/2020 12:00 AM

Mind Matter's Fast Forward A Great Success In Local Schools

Murphys, CA...Mind Matters, is pleased to announce that the innovative collaboration with the Vallecito Unified School District to bring Fast ForWord to Hazel Fischer Elementary and Michelson Elementary was a success. Mind Matters, while known for it’s services targeted to individuals living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, also offers extensive services for learning disabilities, reading remediation, and dyslexia. Mind Matters has addressed these disabilities and disorders with solutions that utilized progressive neuroscience, evidence based, computer programs to meet the increasing needs of the community. One such program that has demonstrated measurable success and a lasting positive impact is Fast ForWord.

Fast ForWord - Teacher 2
Fast Forword - Students
Fast ForWord - Close up

Fast ForWord, created by Scientific Learning, was developed by scientists Michael Merzenich, William Jenkins, Paula Tallal, and Steven Miller. Their studies in the progressive field of neuroscience opened the door to a collaboration that proved that the underlying cognitive processes that influence speech and language problems could be identified—and permanently improved. This research and understanding is what lies at the foundation of the Fast ForWord program.

The program looks simple at first glance, like a fun video game with sounds and bright graphics, but each task has a goal and purpose beyond entertainment. The game, calibrated to each participant’s specific needs, engages them based on initial assessments and through the activities retrains the way their brain is mapped. The hand eye coordination combined with the audio components (as well as other elements) open up the neural pathways for more successful audio/visual processing and sequencing. A very neat observation is that the children are also having fun! And the results are astounding.

In a relatively short amount of time, six to eight weeks, with a frequency varying from 25 - 90 minutes per day, two to five days a week, participants usually display improvement in auditory processing speed, working memory, listening comprehension, and other brain functions. In addition to the measurable gains in language (up to 3 grade level improvements), it is often reported that children who have completed Fast ForWord are better able to interact with parents, teachers, and peers.

New language skills often empower children to participate in the world with more ease as their overall communication skills ( listening, thinking, reading) are improved. They are more likely to participate in group or class discussions and social activities. “ I have seen great improvement with my student who has participated. She is more confident in offering answers during class time, especially around work in Phonics and Spelling. In the past, she would never raise her hand and offer answers and now she can be seen daily providing correct information for the rest of the class. I would love to see a continuation of this program in schools” States Rebecca Cavagnaro, 3rd and 4th grade teacher at Hazel Fischer Elementary.

While the program has proven to yield strong positive results, even with the expansion of it’s offerings at the clinic, Mind Matters identified that there was a greater need still unmet and devised a plan to do something groundbreaking: Involve the schools and collaborate at the origin of this need. “Mind Matters has been using the Fast ForWord program for years. However, the program is expensive to run, costing between $1395 and $2000 per child, and while the clinic has partial grant funding available, many students, due to many reasons ( timing, scheduling, transportation etc…), are not able to participate. Thus we saw a need to broaden our reach. We thought, well, if the students can not come to us, then we will go to them. That is how the idea started and we just ran with it.” States Doctor Ryan Thompson, CEO and Medical Director of the Mind Matters Clinic.

This type of pilot program involving a public collaboration with a local school district was an ambitious goal. Cheri Tichenor, the lead Educational Support Specialist at Mind Matters was up for the challenge and took it head on. Her years of experience as a teacher and her relationships in the community proved to be an asset. After some dialogue and footwork, the idea was welcomed with open arms in the Vallecito Unified School District.
Lead by Cheri, the efforts and passion of the Mind Matters staff attracted the support of a local community foundation that took the dream to the next level and funded it. Thanks to this initial grant funding, the pilot program and it’s collaborative vision was realized.

The first in the session was run at Hazel Fischer Elementary School in September 2014 followed by Michelson Elementary School in March 2015. The primary focus of Mind Matters was to address the concerns of the teachers and the needs of the students by working together. This open dialogue created the space to devise a program that would fit the school’s needs and requirements while truly supporting the students at their level.
What emerged allowed for Mind Matters to bring Fast ForWord to the school and run it on site during school hours. This, while it sounds relatively simple, this is something remarkable. The fact that the children could continue their training during a school period removed barriers to participation. Another remarkable element of the program is that it was offered at no cost to the school or to the student.

Each child that was identified as a potential participant, demonstrated the most need and completed a comprehensive series of tests in audio visual processing, sequencing, as well as reading and comprehension. The results allowed for the program to meet the children at their specific level of attention and then were tested once at the midway point and finally at the end of the session. The program was a soaring success. All students showed marked improvement in their academic performance, reading and comprehension levels, as well as class participation and overall processing improvements. At the end of the sessions, the results were shared with the school and the family along with “next step” recommendations and explanations of the meaning of the findings.

There was such great excitement when the program launched in both locations but unfortunately, the program could only accommodate 8 children in each session. As such, only the children with the greatest need were accepted into the program. “We do not want to see children fall through the cracks as they are struggling in school” says Cheri as she hopes to be able to offer the program again.

The Vallecito Unified School District Superintendent, Don Ogden, fully supports this idea and wants to see it be implemented. “The Vallecito School District is very thankful for the collaboration with Mind Matters. The students that have had the opportunity to work with the Mind Matters staff have demonstrated tremendous academic growth in a very short time. Additionally, our teaching staff has learned how to better accommodate and support students with auditory processing deficits. We hope to continue working closely with the Mind Matters staff in the future. If there is a way that we can come together as a community to support this, we would all appreciate it very much” states Ogden.

Now the pilot programs have come to a close which leaves more students wanting to participate. Mind Matters’ is forging forge ahead to raise the funds to continue it. Some funds have been identified to support another session but the need is great. “We want to continue down the Hwy 4 corridor and bring this program to Mark Twain, San Andreas, Copperopolis, Valley Springs and to Sonora eventually” says Cheri Tichenor, but we need funding to do this. The cost to fund this program in one school is about $14,000 dollars and Mind Matters is inviting the community to participate and help realize this goal.

It is with the support of individuals that these programs are able to come to life. Mind Matters is accepting donations and is encouraging individuals and organizations to reach out in any way that is a good fit for them, even $5 goes a long way. This is certainly a worthy cause.

For more information and to donate, visit the Mind Matters website at or contact them directly at 209.728.2184, checks can be mailed to 150 Big Trees Rd, Murphys CA 95247.

Comments - Make a comment
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No Subject
Posted on: 2015-07-09 13:46:25   By: Anonymous
send the kids outside to interact with nature and the outdoors. That's why they can't sit still and process learning materials, they spend too much time indoors

[Reply ]

No Subject
Posted on: 2015-07-09 13:48:29   By: Anonymous
The study from the link shows this program is useless:


Meta-analyses indicated that there was no significant effect of Fast ForWord on any outcome measure in comparison to active or untreated control groups.


There is no evidence from the analysis carried out that Fast ForWord is effective as a treatment for children's oral language or reading difficulties.

[Reply ]

    Posted on: 2015-07-09 14:28:58   By: Anonymous
    This county is stupid as hell!

    [Reply ]

      Posted on: 2015-07-09 14:53:23   By: Anonymous
      If I'm reading it right, the grant covered initial use; it doesn't mean there isn't, or won't be any cost going forward. The company website outlines the cost, and it's not small.
      I, as other commenters here have said, am bothered Vallecito would be using the program at all, when the peer review data clearly shows it isn't effective.

      [Reply ]

        Posted on: 2015-07-09 15:15:54   By: Anonymous
        Wow, this is disturbing. I'm concerned that our school district Superintendent would be pushing this program, when the evidence shows it doesn't work.

        [Reply ]

          Posted on: 2015-07-09 19:03:23   By: Anonymous
          I am concerned that they misspelled "it's" 3 times (it is) instead of the possessive form "its".
          Not so bothered they used the program, when they have clearly experienced success with it. All kids are different and maybe Cheri is especially gifted with working with them. However, with a price tag of $1350-2000 per student, $5 does not really go a long way, as they suggest, unless, of course they get 280 donors or more per student.

          [Reply ]

            Posted on: 2015-07-09 20:17:01   By: Anonymous
            what kind of success do you see from this article? I don't see any type of measurable success. Another research study proved there is no success.

            [Reply ]

              Posted on: 2015-07-09 20:29:29   By: Anonymous
              What kind of success from the article? Did you even read it?!
              The first sentence announces it was a success, then the teacher expresses the growth in her students, and the superintendent's quote says they all showed "tremendous academic growth in a short time", in addition to another paragraph stating that the program was a "soaring success", and "all students showed a marked improvement in their academic performance, reading and comprehension levels, as well as class participation and overall processing improvements." Sounds like the professionals who are trained to analyze student assessments give it a thumbs up! (Readers on the Pine Tree, however, are not privy to the students' confidential information.)

              [Reply ]

                Re: politician
                Posted on: 2015-07-10 09:08:07   By: Anonymous
                Most of the time, Ogden sounds like a politician.

                [Reply ]

                  Re: politician
                  Posted on: 2015-07-10 10:39:44   By: Anonymous
                  True, he does, and I guess it goes with the territory. It would be great to see more of our educational community (parents) at VUSD Board Meetings. Whenever I have been, they are interesting and informative, and they really do listen to feedback, ideas, and concerns. (You can see the Avery MS track/grassy field from your seats, so the kids can come and kick the soccer ball around while you attend!)

                  [Reply ]

                Posted on: 2015-07-10 10:50:30   By: Anonymous
                Read the independent review of the program, not their self-promoting crap.

                [Reply ]

                  Posted on: 2015-07-10 11:43:28   By: Anonymous
                  So, you think they are lying about the growth the kids made and "self-promoting" so they can continue to use a program that really doesn't work, and yet they want to spend their energy working with it anyway, for no pay off, financial or academic, and ask for donations to pay for it.....for WHAT reason!?!
                  I am sure if I search, I can find a counter article to yours that refutes it and shows successes. But what really matters is what THESE kids experienced!

                  [Reply ]

                    Posted on: 2015-07-10 13:25:37   By: Anonymous
                    You're missing the point.
                    If these kids have the processing issues the Superintendent mentions, that means they've been diagnosed with specific learning disabilities, which would mean this program isn't appropriate. Schools can only use program and materials which have been proven,through peer review, to be effective.
                    The independent research shows Fast a Forword is not.
                    Assessment and appropriate student support cost money. You can bet this program is costing the school district a lot less than actually assessing and providing appropriate support to these children.

                    [Reply ]

                      Re:Know it alls
                      Posted on: 2015-07-10 14:02:02   By: Anonymous
                      All of you out there on the internet brain trust...when was the last time you went to the school board and sat in on a meeting, voicing your opinion before the programs are set in place? you all complain, but i'll bet none of you are on the roster for the board meetings.

                      [Reply ]

                        Re: Re:Know it alls
                        Posted on: 2015-07-10 15:14:00   By: Anonymous
                        What does that have to do with anything?
                        Assessment to address learning disabilities and appropriate goals and programs to address those individual need have nothing to do with board meetings.

                        [Reply ]

                Posted on: 2015-07-10 19:51:56   By: Anonymous
                that is correct, statement were made about the "tremendous" success.

                None of these comments identify success in any type of measurable terms. These comments and statements are nothing but feel good statements intended to make you think something is actually happening.

                You know what isn't happening? The school district is not doing its job to educate ALL students.

                [Reply ]

                  Posted on: 2015-07-10 20:34:54   By: Anonymous
                  Applause! Someone gets it.

                  [Reply ]

                    Posted on: 2015-07-11 05:52:12   By: Anonymous
                    No amount of programs are going to help these kids as long as they stay in the backwoods foothills for there lack of education. They need to be educated in the valley with different updated educational programs and with a wide variety of ethnic background students and teachers.

                    [Reply ]

                      Posted on: 2015-07-11 12:40:07   By: Anonymous
                      Only in Calaveras county would someone offer up, what essentially amounts to, segregation, as a rational alternative to inadequate programming for disabled children.

                      [Reply ]

                      Posted on: 2015-07-11 21:28:58   By: Anonymous
                      You may not know that in Vallecito School District they have the most updated curriculum and technology and were once again awarded the Apple Distinguished School (golden apple). Test scores are above the state average. Why would we listen to someone who spells "their" like there? You wouldn't know a good teacher if you met one!

                      [Reply ]

                        Posted on: 2015-07-11 21:54:45   By: Anonymous
                        If you'd read the comments or the article, you would have seen that the concern was over the district using a non-effective program instead of appropriately assessing and creating measurable goals for children with disabilities.
                        Apple awards and all the accolades in the world doesn't mean they are doing right by these children. IDEA is pretty clear about identifying and assessing children with disabilities in a timely manner, and providing appropriate services to meet their needs.

                        [Reply ]

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