Before we came to Merritt Speech & Learning, our son had problems that concerned us as parents. We thought that he was purposely ignoring us and not following directions. If I asked him a question, he would say, “I don’t know.” I would repeat the question with the answer, and he would still not process the conversation. He went to pre-K and they told us he was not learning and was un-able to keep up with the rest of the class. At this point, we decided to take him to Merritt Speech for some testing. Our son had a visual processing disorder and an auditory processing disorder. We were devastated to see that he was learning and comprehending in some areas two to three years behind his age level. Miss Dana assured us that if we put in the work, followed the program, and did the homework, we would see a turn around. We were diligent to follow the process and come to all the appointments, as well as do the homework assigned. It took a couple of months before we started to see any changes. It started with things like following two and three step instructions in the right order, and then the phonics and reading got stronger and stronger. As the process kept going, my son’s teachers were now noticing a difference. Not only was he getting stronger, faster, he was now confident in himself in everything he was doing. Not only did he know that he was smart, but he also knew he could do the work. Now our son is in the third grade and his teachers say he is so far above his grade level in every subject. He is now a leader and confident where before he was a loner and unable to understand what he was reading. Now he finishes 300 + page chapter books in less than a week’s time, and can recall, understand, and explain what he has read. He is a straight A student and loves to learn. Previously, he had rejected education. If we could encourage you in anything this program and process works when you submit and follow it. Please help yourself and your child. ~ Changed is for the Best, The White’s

Ava had her first visit with Miss Dana in December 20–. Since then, we have seen such amazing changes and growth in Ava’s learning. Her school papers are coming home completed, and her confidence level has grown. Her desire to “beat” Miss Dana in her “learning class” is ever present. Ava no longer gives up and says, “I can’t do it.” She now pushes through the problem and has such pride in herself when she completes the task correctly. I am so excited for what the future holds for her. I no longer worry about her falling behind in school work. We will always hold you dear to our heart. ~A.

My son, Dillon, was 9 years old when we found Miss Dana. He still could not read. Miss Dana started from the beginning using, “A Time for Phonics.” Within a year he was reading on a second grade level. By the time school started, he was reading on grade level. No one would listen or believe that Dillon was impacted from his cranial surgery, but Dana did. He is now an A B Honor Roll student. I cannot wait until this program is available for other children. As a homeschooling mom, this is the best program I have ever seen. ~ God Bless you for the work you do. Cathryn and Normand

When we came to Miss Dana’s office, it was after years of frustration and misdiagnosis by teachers, counselors, and health care professionals. My son had been labeled by the school system. I had been homeschooling him for the past year and a half. Although the one-on-one attention naturally brought about improvements, there still seemed to be a disconnect when it came to his reading and comprehension. He frequently skipped words and reversed the order of words when he read, and he even did this in his thought processes. His learning suffered and so did our relationship as this situation wore me out and tried my patience.

Dana’s approach to phonics and the learning process was extremely encouraging and helpful to our family. For once, someone seemed interested in my son’s well being and was hopeful about the potential for changed. What I like the most was her approach went to the root of the problem instead of trying to cover the problems with band-aids. It dealt directly with how those areas processed learning in the brain.

Today he is much more teachable, receptive, and able to comprehend. The quality of his work has vastly improved, and we are able to get there in half the time. He is much more able to relate to others, and I am delighted to see the young man he is becoming. Our family has felt very blessed by Miss Dana and the services she has provided. ~ Tracey

When my son first started in this program, his reading level was far below where he should have been. He also had a speech problem. We tried the Explode the Code program, but it did not seem to help at all. Throughout the program, “A Time for Phonics”, I saw vast improvements in his reading and speech. His self confidence with his reading has grown tremendously. We feel so blessed that we found Dana Merritt and her phonics program. ~ Holli

Our son, CM, has always been pushed aside by his teachers and we as parents were always told something is wrong but we can’t figure it out. He’s not learning, let us try another specialist. It wasn’t until we found Miss Dana that we were able to put a name to what was going on with our little guy. He had both a Visual (Processing) and Auditory (Processing) disorder. Finally a name for what was going on. Miss Dana taught us about this disorder and how we can help CM. She has truly been a Gods Send. The way she has encouraged him has boosted his confidence, and he is now thriving at school. He is able to hold a conversation and has truly become a little sponge when it comes to learning. We are just starting Fast ForWord now and we still have a long way to go, but we are confident that with the help of Miss Dana the sky is the limit for our son. ~ Lizette

After 4 weeks of Visual Processing Therapy, it has been absolutely life changing. It has opened my eyes to the complexity of the combination of the eye gate, the ear gate, and the motor gate working together. Concerning my son, it has affected his confidence in reading. He used to lean way down and close one eye to read. He did not like reading! Now we are having a good time reading. ~ Lee , ABOC Optician

Dana worked tirelessly and creatively on TK’s visual and motor processing skills. She greatly improved longstanding problems he was having with school work including handwriting, visual tracking and coordination, verbal expression, and concentration. She coached me on in home activities to do with TK almost daily throughout our course of treatment. He progressed by leaps and bounds, and after months of remedial exercises and preparation, Dana determined that he was ready to benefit from Fast ForWord for an auditory processing disorder. Since expertise in the use and appropriate applications of Fast ForWord was in short supply through the school system, we continued to see Dana throughout TK’s work with the modules for her invaluable supplementary activities and coaching to strengthen his skill sets. Dana certainly deserves any credit and recognition available for her dedication and perseverance to finding the right tools and applying them at the right time to suit the particular needs of her clients.

She has in many ways saved TK’s life. A difficult case, I believe, as he is very bright and was a good reader from the start, masking many of the huge challenges he faced with everyday classroom tasks. He was on the point of finding a special school or other concessions because of his inability to perform, but after almost a year of working with Dana, he is now doing timely and exceptional school work, to our delight. Last spring at a school Open House, he told us (his parents) that some nearly blank pages in his workbook (that was out for display) were done “before Miss Dana taught me to write.” I don’t believe that Fast ForWord administered without all of Dana’s preparatory work and knowledge of its best use would have had nearly the positive impact that it did. I am forever grateful for her efforts. ~ MK

Dana has worked with my two daughters, both of which have visual and auditory processing disorders. We went through the visual therapy with Dana, the interactive metronome and the Fast ForWord program. My oldest completed the program to Dana’s satisfaction in 3 weeks, and my youngest is currently on day 8. Dana does a wonderful job motivating the kids and helping them get through a game should they have trouble. She has a unique technique for teaching the kids that really does work well. She would be an excellent and well deserved recipient of this award. ~ SK

In my ministry as a pastor, I counsel people in the application of the Word of God to the issues which arise in relationships with God, spouses, co-workers…and, yes, between parents and their children. In my profession, I introduce clients to the theory and application of temperament. Helping clients understand their unique design and that of their loved ones—particularly their children—promotes improvements in relationships.

Many times, the root issue in parent/child conflicts has proven to be a deficit in, motor, visual or auditory processing. I have witnessed complete resolution of parent/child conflicts once Dana has begun therapy with these children. Whole family systems are brought into proper balance as the result of Dana’s administration of Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord program. I have witnessed the relief on parent’s faces when they hear that there is something which can be done for their child. I have wept tears of joy with them as their child “come back to them.”

As a parent, I know Fast ForWord works. When our daughter was in third grade, she began struggling in school. By fifth grade, she was exhausted and frustrated. This bright child, who once loved to learn, was giving up. We were losing her. Dana Merritt attended our church and we learned of her new practice. Soon after, Dana tested our daughter and discovered her to be three years behind her age level in auditory processing. After nine weeks—just nine weeks—of visual and auditory processing therapy with Dana, our daughter tested again at three years ahead of her age group! She ultimately graduated as valedictorian of her senior class!

Dana Merritt ably represents Scientific Learning and Fast ForWord. More important, however, is her remarkable way with “her kids.” She has a gift for discerning exactly when to push and when to regroup and build from success.

I know from firsthand experience that Fast ForWord is a good program. However, I credit Dana Merritt and her gift for knowing how to combine and apply all processing deficit therapies with my daughter’s recovery and continued success in life. No one is doing what Dana Merritt is doing. She is unique. I offer my strongest possible personal and professional recommendations of Dana Merritt for your 2009 Pat Wilson Award. ~ Respectfully submitted, Debra, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor

Dana has a very innovative approach to resolving any Auditory Processing issues. Her approach has been to first address the Visual Processing issues BEFORE addressing the Auditory issues. My second child is now a client, and again this protocol is producing excellent results for my son.

Before putting a child on Fast ForWord, Dana works extensively with the parents assigning lots of homework for the parents to do with their child each day until the next visit. This “homework” includes lots of “A Time for Phonics” based training and grammar skills training. Dana is clear on the responsibility of the parent to do the homework every day, if possible. This enables the children that come to her to gain “victories” each week that are much more encouraging than if they had done the “work” in her office alone.

This is the second time one of my children has made tremendous progress within a short amount of time. It is this Visual Processing FIRST approach that is so innovative and makes the difference when children then are introduced to Fast ForWord.

The “homework” does not stop when our children are using Fast ForWord. She works on the child’s weakest skills (as exposed by the weekly results) assigning homework to help strengthen these skills, thereby assuring a quicker “victory” and less chance of frustration for the child.

Dana’s thinking “outside the Auditory box” has given my oldest son great success, and she is now helping my youngest son. My oldest son’s Auditory issues were very severe, but he now functions very near to his age level.

Dana’s results are not a “fluke” or due to her “personality” or “likeability”, they are very much due to her training the children FIRST visually. I would very much like to nominate Dana Merritt for the 2009 Pat Wilson Award for Outstanding Product Implementation & Innovation. She has discovered an approach that helps every child achieve success at Fast ForWord and therefore gives them the tools to succeed in life. ~ Thank you, R B

Dana worked with my son, C.G., in the spring and summer between his third and fourth grade years. In third grade his teacher came to me to express concern and the possibility of C.G. having visual processing problems. In addition to showing signs of these problems, he was making average grades – B’s and C’s and was expressing impulsive behavior in the classroom and being a general disruption at times. He also displayed undesirable social behaviors that caused problems with some of the children in his class. She recommended that we use Dana’s services if we decided to use therapy. It was the best decision we could have made for him.

Dana began working with him towards the end of the school year and identified that he did indeed have significant visual processing problems and auditory processing problems as well. Now C.G. isn’t easy to please and can get bored, frustrated, and can complain easily when he isn’t doing exactly what he wants to do, so Dana had her work cut out for her. But I have come to believe there isn’t a problem too big for her. She has such complete belief in what she is doing to improve the lives of these children that she will not give up on them. She will not allow them to give up on themselves. Her faith, strength, diligence and fabulous humor were evident every moment that she worked with my son. She isn’t the type of therapist that tries to make the entire session happy, fun, play-time. She made it clear to C.G. that if he was willing to work, she was willing to help. The minute he started slumping or complaining she firmly, but always with warmth, got him back on track. If he spoke negative things about himself, she uplifted him by quickly speaking back a verse from memory that countered his negative words. As soon as he did well, she celebrated with him and then immediately went to the next challenge. Of course there were many moments of fun and laughter as well along the way, but he was there to work and work he and Dana did, the entire summer. There was never a minute wasted in a session with her. When he began to see the fruits of his labors – mainly in the form of incentive points that earned him a gift card to Toys R Us every few weeks – he began to enjoy his sessions more and more. And before too long, there wasn’t any more complaining, and the negative (self) comments got less and less. Through Dana’s hard work and encouragement, he grew more confident, and he finally graduated from Fast ForWord with tremendous improvement.

His fourth grade year was about to start so I met with his teacher over the summer to tell her to watch out for some of the behaviors he had displayed earlier. The school year was well underway when I had a conference with her, and she informed me that she saw none of those behaviors. He was very well behaved with no impulsivity, and his grades were improved over the previous year – A’s and B’s with an occasional C. He was more confident and was really like a different child in some ways. Now that he is in fifth grade, we still see the improvement in his academics and his confidence and behavior. We will always be so deeply grateful for what Dana did for C.G. and for our family. C.G. has a soft spot in his heart for Dana and so do I! ~ N G

Miss Dana Merritt is constantly improving her approach and services for the Fast ForWord program. She wants the children to be as successful as possible. She will not allow just any child/ adult to go through the program. Each person has to be at the appropriate (entry) level. Based on her clinical approaches with the child/adult, she makes sure there is a strong background in understanding phonics and grammar before attempting the next higher level program. I believe it is clearly her entire approach that prepares the clients to be much more successful in the Fast ForWord program. ~ BK, OTR/L

Both my son and my daughter have benefited from therapy with “Miss. Dana”. After much hard work to correct visual and auditory problems, my children now love to read! A constant refrain around my house is “Just let me finish this chapter, Mom!” Thank you, Dana, for making this possible! You are truly a blessing! ~ AD

We used Shirley English before we came to see Miss Dana. Learning her “Time for Grammar” program has helped us to understand the different parts of speech in a more visual way. Shirley (English) used jingles to help my daughter learn all the parts of speech, but it only helped her to memorize lists. It did help her understand the function of each of the eight different parts of speech. ~ Mary

When Brett started here he could not read or write. We’ve been here for eight weeks of therapy and now he is reading sentences and signs (as we drive by), and his speech is so much clearer. I like the fact that Dana has written out her phonics program in a book and has phonic flashcards. It all goes together so well. It makes so much sense. I 100% recommend her program. It is well worth the time and the effort. ~ Angie