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Success with Learning Disabilites: ADD-ADHD & Convergence Insufficiency

At the third grade level, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education gave my son a CORE evaluation. His teacher, a former special ed. teacher, recommended he be tested. She expressed serious concerns about his academic future. Her report cited a suspected "ADD [attention deficit disorder], inability to express thoughts in writing in a logical manner, and poor memory."

My son had been struggling in school. He felt stupid and very emotional about not being able to keep up with his classmates. Every night I would have to read directions to his homework, as he sat and cried that he couldn't do it. When he read it to himself, he didn't seem to understand what he was supposed to do. How could this child I always thought so bright and articulate be doing so poorly?

I was very pleased with how comprehensive the testing was. A final meeting was called with the specialists, our school nurse, his teacher, and myself, and his results were discussed. My son had been given the Wechsler Intelligence Achievement test. His overall performance was below average in the 14th percentile. There was a 30 point discrepancy between the verbal and performance scale in favor of the verbal. Apparently he could communicate orally but not in written form. For perceptual organization, he ranked at 2%, and below average for processing speed and freedom from distractibility. His visual motor skills were below average. Although the specialists repeatedly stated they were not qualified to make an ADD diagnosis, this could only come from a medical doctor, it was their shared opinion that he indeed had ADD. He was deemed qualified for special services of occupational therapy and speech therapy for processing help.

As I sat through the review, listening and reading each test score and evaluation, it became apparent to me that he had many visual issues. His eldest brother had been diagnosed with convergence insufficiency at the age of 20 after telling me he saw double [diplopia]. I suspected my youngest son had the same trouble.

Our insurance required that we see an optometrist outside our area. He found that indeed my son had a convergence insufficiency, reduced depth perception and focusing dysfunction. For treatment we selected a developmental optometrist, Dr. X.

Dr. X confirmed the same findings after his own testing. He also spoke to us about behaviors that I had not connected to my son's particular diagnosis, such as poor sport skills, and an inability to do many motor tasks. It was true. My son at age nine had difficulty pouring his own drink, cutting meat, playing sports. Many things I had attributed to immaturity could be connected to his visual motor problems.

Dr. X worked with my son for nine months. The results have been remarkable. Now 10 years old and in the 4th grade, my son functions physically as a well as any other child his age. He does his homework with only occasional help from me and, most significantly, no longer feels stupid or that everyone is laughing at him. He has also been released from special services because it is the specialists' feeling that he has improved enough to no longer need extra therapy.

My son is using recommended accommodations to succeed in the classroom. These simple strategies, along with his newly trained eyes, have resulted in a marked improvement in his academic life.
Cheryl M., patient's parent


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