Why are Visual Information Processing Skills and Dynamic Reading important in a Vision Therapy program?
At Hope Clinic, Visual Information Processing training is fully integrated into a comprehensive Vision Therapy program.
Included is work in the areas of Visualization, Visually Guided Motor Skills, Visual Memory, Visual Discrimination, Visual Spatial Relationships, Visual Form Constancy, Visual Figure Ground, Visual Closure, and improved Reading Speed and Comprehension.
During most patients’ final phase of Vision Therapy, home therapy focus is on Reading Speed and Comprehension. Those who do the training typically double or triple their beginning reading speed. We have the data to back up the fact that the dynamic training works, but the more important question might be: “So what?”
Why should I learn how to read faster?
Being a good reader is just the first step in becoming a good learner, which is the gateway to almost all success in life. With few exceptions, almost everyone that is very successful can attribute their success to their ability to learn. Recent studies show that fewer and fewer people are reading. The result is a decrease in academic performance, literacy and occupational outlook for adults.
Developing a love of reading – and the skills to do it effectively – simply improves a person’s quality of life. People who are considered great leaders are also prolific, dynamic readers. Developing reading skills among students increases academic performance in all subjects, and improves the occupational outlook for students entering the workforce. For people already in the workforce, reading provides ongoing education and specialization. By expanding their knowledge and expertise, they are more likely to earn promotions and advancement.
We all know reading is important, but many people claim they don’t have the time, patience or skills to read.
In 2010, one of the reading programs we prescribe was tested in a “low income” elementary school. The population was ethnically, economically and educationally diverse. As a school, the students were underperforming. The students were tested at the beginning of the school year in reading, language, math, and science. Test scores were low and teachers were struggling to raise them, with no success. The school implemented ‘speed reading’ into the reading curriculum for the remainder of the year. When the results came back on the end of year testing, scores had increased an average of 21% in all subjects. The remarkable part of this story is that improvements were observed in every demographic of the school, including every ethnic, income and educational demographic. Even special needs students saw improvements on their scores.
When we combine reading with deep mental training, this not only improves reading skills but also learning and memory skills which result in massive improvements in all areas of mental function.
Reading enables the mind to expand and excel.You can actually feel your eyes doing this with a simple exercise: Close one eye and gently place your finger over one (closed) eyelid as you read. You will feel your eye jumping back and forth as you read. These rapid movements are called saccades. They determine how much you see at a single glance. Typically we make many of these small movements as we read. However, too many of these saccades slow your reading speed.
During the dynamic reading Vision Therapy phase, not only do you learn to read faster, but you also retain that information and use it better. Reading is a reliable way for us to measure the impact of Visual Information Processing Skills training, and your improvements in WPM are an indication of the impact a more active brain will have in virtually every area of your life.
How are reading speed and comprehension improved?
There are two critical components to this training: stress and repetition.
Stress in this context does not mean ‘stressing you out’- precisely the opposite.
It involves using more of your brain to get the job done. You need to activate the vision field while you engage in logical thinking (the process of reading). Stress on your mental functions tells the brain that it needs to step up its game. Just like weight-lifters use increasing weights to build their muscles, we have to push our brain beyond its normal limits to grow. We form some bad habits as we get older, especially when it comes to reading. By stressing the brain ( ie. by initially presenting reading material faster than you’re actually able to comprehend), we force you to eliminate the bad habits that are inefficient and stop you from achieving your peak potential.
Repetition strengthens the neural pathways your brain uses to send signals throughout your body.
The brain uses synapses to signal the body to perform any task. These synapses are electric signals that travel along neural pathways to the desired destination. As you create new reading habits and development increases in reading speeds, you are creating new neural pathways in your brain. Deep, methodical repetition will strengthen these pathways, making you able to read faster, think faster and perform better.