Great Expectations: Parents Put
Faith in Learning Programs
Linda Ann Chomin, Observer & Eccentric, April 16, 2006
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Like all parents, Staci and Steve
Bockmann expected their son to talk by a certain age. When Blake
continued to babble at 2 1/2 their concern turned to shock when
the diagnosis came back as autism.
Rather than sit and grieve, Staci and Steve sought effective
therapies early on. Today they not only have great expectations
for Blake, an 8-year-old student in a mainstream first-grade
classroom in Canton, but for children with special needs ranging
from ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorders) to behavioral
problems, speech and reading difficulties, sensory overload, and
autism. Their Great Expectations learning center allows parents
to choose from a variety of programs aimed at overcoming the
challenges to their children's development.
"There are so many different therapies," said Steve Bockmann.
"It took about 2 1/2 years of research. When he was about 4 we
thought, what if there was one place to go to choose from
therapies? We offer everything from speech and occupational
therapies to sensory therapy, Brain Train, SoundSmart, and Play
Attention which is like playing a game."
Corey Monroe uses a Play Attention helmet to control images on
the screen and in so doing strengthens his focusing skills. The
John Glenn High School junior was having problems with reading
until enrolling at the center in Livonia. Three sensors inside
the helmet track the 17-year-old Westland student's attention
span as he controls the screen with his mind.
Monroe first went through the STEP (Sensory Training and
Education) program which uses music, light and movement to
improve sensory and cognitive processing before using Reading
Plus. When a student wears a pair of computerized eyeglasses for
reading, the software program is able to follow his or her eyes.
The information allows an evaluator to assess the reading level
and then customize a program for the child.
"I liked them all," said Monroe. "The light (STEP program) is
fun because I don't have to do anything. Play Attention helps me
pay attention more. With Reading Plus I'm reading faster and can
understand what I'm reading better."
Holly Sutherland, a 12-year-old student at Marshall Middle
School in Westland, has noticed improvement as well since
working on Reading Plus.
"I was having problems with reading," said Sutherland. "Now I
can stay focused. I'm reading better."
Kent Langlinais brings home less school work since going through
STEP and Reading Plus which he calls "really good" programs. The
9-year-old is a student at All Saints School in Canton.
"He started in November with the STEP program," said Darlene
Langlinais, Kent's mom. "It helped him focus better in school.
Since beginning Reading Plus he's reading faster and
comprehending. He has better confidence and is starting to
Staci Bockmann cautions parents not to get caught up on labels.
Kent has problems staying focused in class, but was never
diagnosed with ADD.
"A lot of kids are misdiagnosed and put on medication," said
Bockmann. "We always ask why the kids are doing what they're
doing,why they're acting out behaviorally, why they're not
focusing. We do our own evaluation before looking at results of
"We did a lot of research and went off of the experience of our
son. When you're living it 24-7, you learn that they learn it
visually. We had our son try the programs out. Sensory training
is basically new technology that the hospitals haven't
Reese West was only 3 when he went through the STEP sensory
program last year. His mother, Sonja, noticed a difference in
his development almost immediately. She drove all the way from
Woodhaven to seek help for the boy who was diagnosed with autism
through the school system.
"First and foremost it increased his speech and language
abilities tremendously, and from day four or five his ability to
answer questions and have a little bit of back and forth
conversation. That was the biggest improvement, but eye contact
improved, socialization with his younger brother and even my
husband and I increased dramatically."
In addition to sensory training and educational programs for
ages 2 1/2 through adult, Great Expectations offers tutoring.
Liberty Kids, their nonprofit, provides therapy scholarships for
children with special needs. For information, visit
The Michigan Association of Student Councils and Michigan
Association of Honor Societies have chosen Liberty Kids as their
charity for 2006-07 and will be working to raise money for the
"Insurance doesn't cover this therapy. It's out of pocket
expense for parents," said Staci. "We've done it ourselves,
mortgaged our house twice for our son."
To learn more about Great Expectations, call (734) 762-0332 or
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