How Vision Therapy Helped My Son
My youngest son Kaelen was in fifth grade when I began working at Hope Clinic. Unlike his older brother Jameson, who read voraciously, he had not ever liked to read or sit on my lap to be read to. When the boys were little and I told them bedtime stories, Kaelen would usually swing on the bars of the bunkbeds in their room, humming or making other noises, but rarely looking at the book. Later, he did not make great grades in school, though he was generally cooperative, and the fact that teachers liked him allowed him to “get by” without any red flags.
The Homework Wars
Year after year at home, we engaged in “the homework war” which was truly agonizing and seemed to drag on forever. Special Ed testing did not qualify Kaelen for extra help in school. By the fifth grade, teachers on the IEP team began to discuss the possibility that our son had ADD. I knew in my heart that this was not my son’s challenge. What made me so very sad was that my son did not like to read. Ever. And that, for a teacher who had always loved to read, was almost impossible to accept.
I sought a different kind of help for children with learning challenges, and I made the important appointment with Dr. Kadet for Kaelen to have a Functional Vision Evaluation. Results of the vision testing showed that Kaelen did indeed have a commonly overlooked vision challenge called Convergence Insufficiency. Though he had 20/20 nearpoint vision, when he looked at things close up (like words on a page) they were blurry, double or moving around on the page, and he didn’t realize that what he was experiencing with reading was not ‘normal’. No wonder he was having the academic challenges!
Kaelen began Vision Therapy both in the clinic and at home. I noticed subtle changes in him within the first few weeks of therapy. His confidence in himself in many areas started to grow quickly. After 6 months of Vision Therapy, I had a very different son.
“I will never forget the day that I heard the words, “Mom, I actually think I like reading.”
Almost two years later with high school only 1 1/2 years away for Kaelen, I shudder to think about what life would be like in our household if we had not discovered the help Vision Therapy afforded him and the rest of our family. Kaelen is not without his struggles in school, but he reads every day, comprehends well and never complains about it.
I often think back to the days when I was teaching elementary school, working with students similar to Kaelen. Every school year there were 1-4 kids in my class who were slipping ‘through the cracks.’ The numbers may be getting even higher based on what I hear from teachers in the field now. I think back to the conversations I had with parents about how their child did not qualify for Special Ed help; to the parents whose child had just gotten the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD; to the faces of children who were so very bright, but looked out the window or almost anywhere else besides a book.
I wish I could have told them about the option of Vision Therapy, how it helps to lay down new neural pathways in the brain, and helps two eyes to work together efficiently. I actually think it is a tragedy that as a teacher, I was not taught the signs and symptoms of vision issues that can affect learning as part of my regular teacher training, as well as what can be done to help.
Knowing what I know now about the benefits of Vision Therapy, about how undetected vision issues often masquerade as ADD/ADHD, about how parents and kids can end ‘the homework war’, I want to make sure I reach as many parents and education professionals as I can to make sure they know how.