About Karen Lacey



Karen Lacey, M.S. CCC/SLP, the owner and developer of Learning Tree (previously Children’s Learning Technologies), has 35 years of experience in the field of reading disorders, 29 years as a speech and language pathologist, 25 years in the field of deaf and hard of hearing and 25 years of experience in auditory processing disorders. Since 1980, Karen has pursued a neurobiological, neurophysiology and neuroaudiological approaches to the scope of reading deficits. Karen is proud to offer northern New Mexico the latest approaches to reading and auditory based learning disorders.

Early Education

Karen graduated from the University of Montana in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Remedial Reading. She moved back to New Mexico and got her first teaching job on a Navajo reservation outside Gallup, NM as a Remedial Reading teacher (Title 1). At that time the school district had only one speech pathologist for the very large school district. Due to lack appropriate special education services, the students were put in Karen’s Reading Lab.

Post-Graduate

Karen noted that the students did not have adequate language abilities to achieve reading success. In order to learn more about the foundation of reading, she went back to school for a Master’s in Speech and Language at the University of New Mexico.

Karen graduated with a Master’s Degree in Communicative Disorders: Emphasis on Speech and Language in 1987. In 1988, she and her husband moved to Santa Fe and she began working at New Mexico School for the Deaf. As her caseload at NMSD was primarily hard of hearing students ages 3 to 10, it came to her attention that the listening modifications for hard of hearing students and students with Auditory Processing Deficits (then termed Central Auditory Processing Deficits CAPD) were exactly the same. Her good friend was the audiologist at NMSD and evaluated CAPD at the time. Upon her friend’s move to Albuquerque, she taught Karen how to administer and interpret CAPD assessments typically used by audiologists.

Throughout the 1990s, the learning disability, Dyslexia, was receiving national attention and millions of dollars were spent on research. The new definition of Dyslexia stated that Dyslexia is based in the phonological system (the sound system of language), which is directly related to Auditory Processing.
Karen enrolled in a course to learn the Orton/Gillingham methodology of teaching reading and students with Dyslexia. After 2 years of course work, Karen explored several multisensory sequential structured programs for Dyslexia.

In 1999, Karen and Occupational Therapist, Wendy Baird, wrote and published a multisensory sequential structured beginning reading and writing program entitled WatchWord: Multisensory Reading and Writing. WatchWord is designed to promote phonological processing, letter/sound identification, as well as beginning decoding and spelling.
In 1997, Karen became a provider of Fast ForWord Language web-based auditory processing and language disorder program. Pre and post-testing of students undergoing the Fast ForWord Language program revealed dramatic increases in auditory memory, auditory discrimination, auditory processing speed, as well as receptive and expressive language. Impressive reduction of auditory processing deficits was noted.

Since 1980, Karen has pursued a neurobiological, neurophysiology and neuroaudiological approach to the scope of reading deficits. “Reading difficulties are based in the language system. The language system is based in the phonological (speech sound) system. The phonological system is primarily based in the auditory processing system”.

“Remediation is best when it includes addressing the auditory processing and language systems, as well as reading/spelling. Multisensory, sequential and structured principles and programs for reading/spelling provide excellent success for all individuals learning to read and spell.”