Vision Therapy Helps Struggling Students to Succeed
We think of summer as a time off, that we don’t have to deal with the struggles that occurred this past year. In reality, summer is an ideal time to plant the seeds for a successful upcoming year, so we can solve the problems that will occur, and end the struggles. This story may sound familiar:
Jacob hated reading. His mother would struggle and fight with him to get his reading homework done. Easily discouraged and frustrated, Jacob would say "I stink at reading". When it came to reading he had very little confidence in himself.
A developmental vision exam revealed the real problem. The fact that he had "20/20" visual acuity make it more difficult because everyone involved; parents, teachers, and even Jacob thought that 20/20 was the same as “perfect vision”. They had difficulty understanding. The reason is that “20/20” is a measure of how someone sees at distance, at 20 feet, but reading and schoolwork are done at near!
Jacob had difficulty coordinating his eyes and using them together to point in when reading a book or doing his homework. His problem was Convergence Insufficiency. He could not point his eyes in for the length of time it took to do the assignment. He was spending so much energy doing that and had little left over for remembering what he was reading. He had double vision at times and had difficulty tracking across a line of print. Is it any wonder then, that he struggled so much when reading?
But this was his “normal” and he didn’t realize that others did not have this hard a time when they read. That’s why he didn’t think to mention this to his parents. He thought he was just not smart and this had already started to affect his self-esteem. Fortunately, we identified Jacob's vision problem and helped him correct it through a program of optometric vision therapy.
Jacob was fortunate because his brother had recently completed a vision therapy program with great success, so his mother said:
“We decided we should give it a try for Jacob too. It took some time, effort, patience and hard work but the difference was remarkable. Jacob now has much more confidence in his ability to read. I can't remember the last time I heard him say he stinks. There has been no crying, frustration or pounding fists as before. He now reads books by himself and even reads to his little sister. He feels better about himself and now is so much more confident in other areas as well.”
How can vision therapy create such a large change when nothing else seemed to help? When a vision problem is at the root of a learning difficulty, then trying to address it through tutoring, medication, or other means, will not solve the underlying problem. It’s like a fire that is producing smoke. Surgery is not the answer, and not all eye doctors look for these types of problems because this is not an eye disease, and it is not a problem that eyeglasses or contact lenses can solve.
Vision Therapy addresses the underlying vision problem that gives rise to incorrect diagnoses of
learning disability, dyslexia or ADD/ADHD. Unfortunately, many children that have vision problems that impact learning are often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are very similar. Often, addressing the vision problem solves many of these issues.
About 80% of learning depends on vision. It is therefore very important for parents and educators to understand the signs and symptoms of vision problems that interfere with learning. Below are some of the most common symptoms:
- Distractibility and poor concentration
- Incomplete assignments
- Frustration with school
- Not working up to potential
- Inconsistent performance
- Poor comprehension
- Poor handwriting
- Errors in copying
- Avoids reading
- Words moving on the page
- Slow reading speed
- Homework takes "forever"
Fortunately, vision problems can be treated successfully and your child will be better prepared to learn once the new school year starts in September. For more information please call our office in Old Bridge, NJ for more information about the critical link between vision and learning.
There's more to healthy vision than 20/20 eyesight! Learn more about symptoms of visual problems that affect reading, learning, school and sports success.