I'm proud to Introduce Jeremiah's Circles

     Jeremiah's Circles is an Innovative Therapy, Pre-School through High School, for anyone labeled as unteachable, Special Needs, Developmentally Delayed, Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Down Syndrome, ADHD, ADD, TBI, Trisomy 21 or any other Chromosome Abnormality.  The program first started in 1969.  As a young mother, I worked as a reading tutor with severely disabled students in California.  That's when I discovered a tutoring technique that worked with students with developmental disabilities or special needs.

     After my four children were raised, my husband Richard and I adopted an eight year old boy named Jeremiah.  He was born with extensive TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) including absent of the corpus callosum, porencephalic cyst of his brain, hydrocephalus, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and multiple visual deficits.  Jeremiah also had an unfair start in life having experienced the trauma of child abuse.  Later he developed scoliosis as well.  The Doctor said it was medically impossible for this child to move a finger or roll over with such damage to the brain.  Jeremiah had a lot of special needs and needed a lot of support.

     When adopted at age 8 Jeremiah was still wearing diapers and slept tied in his crib.  He was functioning at about 20 months, we were told that he wouldn't function past a 2 year old.  He did learn to walk and he could mimic phrases.  Although he was considered to be unteachable I discovered a way to teach him to read.  I remember one day, he was sitting with me in the kitchen.  He looked toward a newspaper on the table.  "What's that?" he asked, pointing to a word.  I smiled, "That's a word" I said.  "That word is more.  Say more."  And of course, Jeremiah could mimic words.  "More" he said.  That's when I knew he could learn to read before he could actually say a meaningful sentence.

    We placed Jeremiah in an elementary school that was said to be 1st in Denver to have mainstreaming into the regular classroom.  But because of his severe disabilities, Jeremiah stayed in a self contained classroom.  Being an uneducated mom, I believed that the teacher would teach him and the other special needs students.  He sat there day after day tapping a little Matchbox car.  After many failed attempts to help Jeremiah, we asked the ARC, then know as "The Association for Retarded Citizens," to help us.  We worked to get him put into a Special Education class only to find that they too didn't know how to teach him.  We then demanded integration, we felt that he could at least mimic normal children's behaviors if he was aloud to be with them.

    When Jeremiah was in Middle School, the teacher gave him preschool work, a pencil and paper.  It was difficult for him to transfer thought to pencil, then pencil to paper, without help he was unable to accomplish it.  Even though he could read at a 3rd grade reading level, they gave him work that I felt insulted his intelligence, like:  Daddy rides in a car.  And the duck says quack.  For my son, Adapted Academics meant preschool work.

    My husband and I scheduled a meeting with the School Board.  We again called the ARC and we also called the TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury group for public schools to assist us.  We hoped that they could educate the teachers on how to educate Special Needs students.  Instead, the TBI stated: "Because Jeremiah has no frontal lobes, he'd never be able to function in our world."  They said, "Academics were a waste of time."  I thought it was wrong to deny Jeremiah an education just because he has special needs.  I didn't want to hear what he would never do, I'd heard enough.  They talked about a future they couldn't see, repeating only what had been in the past.  I needed to use the possibilities that were there, to create a better future for my special needs child.

    I began writing an Academic Program for Jeremiah while he was in 8th grade in 1997.  I also learned how to work with his teachers.  As he learned, I wrote new lessons, sending a paper a day to each of his classes.  Finally Jeremiah could be part of this world.  We called his program Jeremiah's Circles.  And that's how the spark of hope grew.

    I integrated a condensed State Required Curriculum which only requires filling in easy multiple choice circles (Scantron test taking skills) versus writing sentences which has been proven to be unsuccessful for many.  I realized that I had broke the barrier and found a way to teach the labeled unteachable.  It is comprised of seven books on seven subjects:  American History, Physical Science, Language Arts, Math, Spanish, Reading and Land Animals.

    When he entered High School, he was placed in a Special Education Class and was doing quite well.  In High School Jeremiah continued to revisit Jeremiah's Circles to promote self accomplishment and reinforcing his abilities.  While promoting more independence, safety became a major concern.  I had decided to quit my job as an Optical Technician to work at his school.  Instead of working in my sons class, I was placed in the self contained classroom.  I discovered that students spent hour's sitting, learning the ABC's, writing their name, and counting pennies.  What's wrong with that was they'd been doing this since first grade.

    I was soon confronted by a student begging me to teach him to read.  I started working with him only to be told by the teacher that we didn't do that in this classroom.  I asked her, "Why?"  She said "He had to learn His Street Signs first."  I then presented the First Stories and curriculum that Jeremiah and I created together.  After a demonstration, Jeremiah's Circles was piloted at Denver's North High School in 1999.

    What's really great?  We found that Jeremiah's Circles worked with students of all different disabilities like Autism, ADHD, Asperger's Disorder, Special Needs, Developmental Disabilities, Down Syndrome or Trisomy 21.  Anyone of any age who has the desire and is able to mimic words could learn to read.  Parents were reporting that their children were interested in reading at home.  The students were showing more self-confidence in school.  Improvement had also been noticed by the Speech Therapist.

    Our teacher was chosen "Teacher of the Year".  The school board sent teachers from other schools to see why our class was so successful.  We showed them Jeremiah's Circles Programs.  The teachers would scan through the books saying, "But none of our students can read."  We answered by explaining, "Before the program our students couldn't read either."  Their reply was, "I mean our students REALLY CAN'T READ!"

    As our students finished the First Stories, we were in need of appropriate follow up readers.  That's when the six Little Readers were born.  I wrote stories using people in Jeremiah's life like his brothers, sister, aunts and uncles.  These delightful stories are appropriate for all ages.  I also wrote a Tutor's Guide to help insure each student received effective instruction while learning to read.

    Jeremiah graduated from High School at age 21 with James, his assistant, seizure alert, guide dog leading him to the stage to receive his diploma.  Eventually, we found an excellent day program.  He's doing well working on independent living skills.  I was asked to start a reading program at his Adult Day facility called, "The Starr Center."

    While working at the Starr Center I saw that a program was needed for those who were non-verbal.  A participant named Dennis helped me develop Picture Academics.  Picture Academics worked for both readers and non-readers, enhancing the Learning to Read Program for Special Needs.

    All the participants that joined the Jeremiah's Circles Program learned that they were learning.  The Starr Center was able to get a teacher to help and we were able to have learning sessions 3 days a week.  We had 21 students, all excited and eager to learn.  Surprisingly they learned faster then the students in High School.  This I credit to the Starr Center as they used continuous encouragement while working on the clients strengths and social skills.

    Jeremiah's Circles' programs have been used in many homes, schools and day programs.  These programs do not require writing, only filling in the multiple choice circle.  They differ from other programs in that it is not necessary for your special needs student to memorize the letters of the alphabet nor does it teach phonics.  Jeremiah's Circles used often as a last resort has been successful where all other efforts have failed.  This program provides the tools so your special needs student can learn and feel successful.

    The best part is the ending of my story, I know that there is a way to educate the Learning Disabled.  I've discovered a way that works!  This means that schools can have programs that will work.  And as for Jeremiah?  He's developing in so many areas that it's difficult to document them all.  Some abilities that no one saw previously are now being awakened.  He is functioning more in the "real" world around him.  Jeremiah continues to educate himself as he now has the tools to do so.  Since he likes to make people feel good, he shares his accumulated knowledge and his enthusiasm with others.