Vision Therapy for Dyslexia and the Dyslexic
As a teacher, I recognized that Jon had some kind of visual difficulty when reading: losing his place, reversal of letters, confusing letters such as “P, D, B,” tracking from line to line as he read, and poor concentration. The Vision Therapy program has helped correct the problem to the point that Jon himself has commented that “reading is easier.” I have noted greater fluency as he reads.
Thank you for developing a program that not only targeted a serious problem, but that a child actually enjoyed doing.
By Shirley L. Tuttle
About 5 years ago when I first started college, I started to notice that I had eye problems. Being ignorant of how the eyes work, I didn’t know what to do about it. In fact, I thought I had dyslexia or something similar. It turned out that my brain was fine and the real problem was with the muscles in my eyes. I went to months of Vision Therapy to help me read longer and with less strain, which helped my studies incredibly.
Vision Therapy included everything, even prisms lenses. In fact, I still use a pair of glasses on top of my corrective contact lenses to help my eyes relax sometimes when I read or use the computer.
I think it’s great that someone is educating about the benefits of therapy. It seems that parents and teachers alike could all use a lesson in eye care. Great job on the site and thanks.
Zacharriah is 11 years old and we have been struggling with learning disabilities since he was two or three years old. Zach never liked to color or draw on paper as small child. He never had any interest in letters or numbers. He did not like to look at books. We weren’t worried, since after all, when he drew on the large marker board he did a fantastic job. He would use detail in his drawings that were advanced for his age. At age three, he drew people with heads having eyes, ears, nose, and mouth all properly placed. He drew cars and trucks with great detail. He drew plans for new inventions he had thought up. All of this was done on the marker board, but seldom on paper. When it came to letters, Zach just couldn’t learn them. We tried oral work and he could not remember the names of the letters, let alone any of their sounds. I bought phonics materials, flash cards, refrigerator magnets, you name it we bought it; he hated it!
It didn’t take long for Zach’s self-esteem to begin dropping once he started school. He couldn’t do the letter work required, even in kindergarten. His teacher thought he was lazy and spoiled. This teacher was also telling me that he was basically lazy when it came to his paper work. He could answer just about anything as long as he didn’t have to read or write. I had been asking for help from the school by way of testing and was getting nowhere. I had also taken Zach for eye exams and had been told that he was fine. By the middle of his first grade year, I had had it. I began home schooling Zach and found an eye specialist who told us that he had dyslexia but offered no treatment.
Zach went back to school for the second grade. He had learned a lot at home and we felt he needed the socialization of other children. We knew his teacher well and thought she would get Zach the help he needed. It didn’t happen. There was always an excuse from the school and most of the time it was that “these things take time.” But my child was getting further and further behind.
Zach called himself stupid or retarded. He quit trying, after all it was useless; hours of work and drills; tears and raised voices (both mine and his) and for what? We resigned ourselves to the fact that Zach was not college material and prayed he’d be able to graduate high school someday. We knew that life would always be a struggle for him.
Then one day a family friend referred us to an optometrist in our area. He had had similar problems earlier in his life and at least he could relate to what Zach felt. The optometrist ran extensive exams, including testing for dyslexia and referred us to Dr. X, a developmental optometrist, who provides Vision Therapy.
On the day of Zacharriah’s initial assessment, we were totally impressed with Dr. X and her staff. They knew exactly what the problems were and how to fix them. We decided we would try Vision Therapy, and if we didn’t see results after a month, we would quit. Well, after only one month, the improvement that we saw in Zach was nothing short of a miracle.
There have been changes in all areas for us. Zach’s attitude, his behavior, his academics have all seen major improvement. I don’t have to struggle and fight to get him to do his homework or chores. He isn’t nearly as sassy as he was, and he isn’t always angry and on the defensive.
Zach loves doing Vision Therapy. He does his homework in about 1/3 of the time it took him just one month ago, and yesterday, on his school spelling test, he got his first 100 ever. Zach was so happy and proud of himself that he had to call all of the aunts and uncles to tell them the news.
Thank you so much. We have continued with Vision Therapy, even though it means a 2 hour drive each way, because we can now see our son’s true potential.
Debra Hedmark, Zacharriah’s parent, 2/21/03
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Vision Therapy has really helped Codey a lot. He now has a more positive attitude, and much better reading and handwriting grades. Before we started Vision Therapy, we had tried everything, Hooked on Phonics, tutors, summer school, nothing seemed to help. It was to the point where we just thought he was lazy and wouldn’t try. Finally, we decided to do a dyslexia screening and called Dr. X. He instantly detected a vision problem and explained Codey’s condition to us. Finally, everything started making sense: the poor attitude, bad grades, etc. Now, 34 weeks of Vision Therapy later, there has been great improvement. Better grades, no headaches when he comes home from school, no fighting to do homework, and a great positive attitude.
Misty Bowman, Codey’s parent, 7/8/02
My daughter Brooke always wanted to read but had so much difficulty. I had her tested for learning disability and dyslexia. Then a teacher suggested I take her to Dr. X. Brooke had been to eye doctors before, but when I went to Dr. X’s office they gave her a very thorough exam. I couldn’t believe how bad my daughter’s eyes were. My heart was in my throat. After going through therapy, she has shown much improvement. Her reading has improved and she feels so much better about herself. I thank Dr. X and his wonderful staff for all they’ve done for Brooke.
Cherie Halverson, Brooke’s parent, 9/2000
Danielle was having a hard time reading. Even the simplest words gave her trouble. She had one on one help on a daily basis with no results. I took her to be tested for dyslexia, which she has. The tests also showed a possible tracking problem. Now Danielle loves to read. She can consistently read words once she has learned them, whereas before she read “sat” and when it came again in the next sentence, she would struggle to figure out what it was. She also has more stamina when reading.
I feel Vision Therapy was treatment I could not deny my child. Had I not put her in therapy, I am positive her reading level would still be at a 1st grade level. Plus she would not love to read.
Sheryl, mother of Danielle, 8 , 10/28/02
Mari-Elizabeth, prior to Vision Therapy, had low self-esteem, she didn’t want to read, she couldn’t write a sentence with more than one word spelled correctly. She had to search around the classroom for b’s and d’s to know how to write them correctly. She would put her shoes on the wrong feet. Often, she’d read and completely miss 2 or 3 paragraphs.
I asked the school if they could help me determine what type of problem my child was experiencing. I would have her eyes examined twice per year. I purchased supplemental work to help her understand. I asked the teacher questions about things she noticed with my child in class. I prayed a lot. I asked anyone I thought could help me if they knew any Doctor who could help me help my child with dyslexia.
Since Vision Therapy, she now enjoys reading. She has much more confidence in herself. She’s happy! She spells much better. She’s now all that we knew she was, but now she really knows and feels like it too. She’s simply phenomenal. Thank you Dr. X. You created a miracle for us.
Robin, mother of Mari-Elizabeth, age 9, 8/31/00
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Subject: strabismus & learning disabilities at primary school
Date: Sun, 01 Mar 1998 11:28:48 +0100
Please excuse all the mistakes in grammar, spelling, tenses, word order, etc. in this text – I only learned English at school for a three year period, some 30 years ago.
During the last seven years, we (“we” means the staff of a Berlin primary school) have had remarkable successes with dyslexic children and children with learning disabilities including ADD or ADD/ADHD by having their strabismus or associated phoria fully compensated with prismatic glasses. We have collected photographs which show quite a typical change in handwriting and spelling of a (then 9 year old) boy who had an associated phoria of only 1.5 cm/m. The first picture shows his status some months before he got his first glasses, the second one shows his status about four months after he got the glasses (just prismatic glasses). After all those experiences with ~100 children, we don’t agree any more with those optometrists who say that there is no need to compensate any disorder less than 5 cm/m with glasses – in some cases, we had dramatic changes by correcting a disorder of only 0.25 cm/m! (Thanks to the specially trained optometrist!)
The typical problems of these children are:
problems to hold the line
(poor abilities in drawing pictures, using a scissor etc.) – mixing up letters (“b” and “d” specifically) – exchanging neighboring letters
forgetting single letters
adding single letters
still reading letter by letter in the second year of school – guessing words after having read the first letter(s) – missing or double-reading single words or whole lines – avoiding or refusing to read and/or write as often as possible
problems with attention
getting tired quickly
and some minor problems like red eyes, problems with bright light, etc.
The rate of success looks like this:
3 – 5%: glasses don’t help
30%: there were positive changes in school, but parents and teachers don’t know if it was the glasses or the simultaneously started training program
60 – 65%: remarkable changes in reading & writing abilities, better attention and it was quite clear that it was the glasses
3 – 5%: dramatically positive changes
The younger the children, the more positive are the results: From the ages of 6 to 7 years, the improvements normally happen within 6 months. Within a few weeks, the children themselves realize that reading is much more easy for them. From the age of 10 or older, the results are more often poor and slow.
Those children who are suffering from headaches normally (i.e. 90% or more) lose them totally within 6 weeks. After they’ve corrected any visual disorder, the children don’t need any more eye movement training.
Those who are interested in this subject, can request gifs of the photographs and/or a paper written by the optometrist who uses the checkup method developed by the Berlin High School of Optometrists and the related testing device “Polatest” (by Carl Zeiss, Germany). The text is available in German only.
Jens Haase, Headmaster 19th Primary School
I would be happy to contribute a story of how Vision Therapy has changed my life.
I have always had reading difficulties and never enjoyed reading for pleasure. I had to work extremely hard to get the grades I wanted in school and would often go in my room, plug up my ears, and read out loud to myself. I would panic if someone asked me to read orally – especially if I had not pre-read the material. I was not a good test-taker, mainly when it was timed. I never thought I could ever be a graduate student, because the reading took me so long.
It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I found out I had some form of dyslexia or perhaps a vision impairment. When I looked at a printed page I could only focus on one or two words at a time. My eyes jerked across the page, and I often got headaches. I just thought everyone saw the same way I did until I saw a special on TV. It showed what a person with this form of dyslexia would see. It was at that point in my life that I realized I wasn’t dumb. There was a physical explanation for the difficulties I had experienced. It wasn’t until three years ago that I knew there was anything I could do about it.
When I met with Dr. X, he said I had a great chance of getting help with therapy. I was overwhelmed! He asked me what I wanted to accomplish when I was finished with the therapy. There were two main goals I had: to be able to read a book orally to my students at school, with expression, without having to pre-read the book, and being able to start on my masters degree. I went through many sessions and can now say it was the best investment I have ever made.
I have lost count of the books I’ve read to my class, as well as those I have read for pleasure. I’ve read more in the last three years than I have read in the other 34 years combined. I passed the MAT test to become a graduate student and made a high enough score I could continue on with my doctorate if I wanted. I am now in my 5th class with a 4.0 average.
I LOVE TO READ!!! I would recommend Vision Therapy to anyone who is in doubt
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Source: Dyslexia, Dyslexic
Please note: In-office therapy under the direction of a behavioral optometrist using prisms, filters and lenses, as used with our patients, is far more effective than home-based therapy.