Success with Learning Disabilities: Special Education Programs and Vision Therapy
Going into 6th grade he will have help in class for his reading instead of a special education class ...
Dr. X was recommended by the head of the Department of Special Education where we live.
She has had speech, special ed., O.T. and PT. in school ÷ since starting Vision Therapy, for the first time she has received satisfactory on her report card.
A study done of 6,000 students ... 93 percent of those who were in some sort of special education program suffered from vision problems ...
I believe that my son would be in special education
if it were not for Vision Therapy.[More]
I am writing you professionally so that my words may encourage others and give them hope through Vision Therapy. My background is in the field of Special Education. I have three credentials in the field of learning handicaps and a Masters of Education specializing in learning handicaps.
Over this past 18 months, A.B. has progressed farther than any of us could imagine. He even celebrates how his eyes have improved. Is this a matter of just maturation, a skeptic would ask? Not if you could have seen his eye tracking upon evaluation ... and seen it now!
Ben has done amazingly well with Vision Therapy. After five months, his reading abilities have improved. He is now reading at grade level.
Your work with my son Evan has proven invaluable. It has made the difference between success and failure in his life.
I could not be happier with the changes we see. Christian is excited about reading and all the mechanics are in place for writing.[More]
... he has graduated from the Special Ed program ... a confident reader ... straight A's in school! That's a far cry from the days when he would lunge to the floor, book in hand, crying, "I can't do this, it's too hard."
With the Vision Therapy sessions and the homework from Dr. X, along with the special education program at his school, Ty has not only met his scholastic goals, but has exceeded his teacher's and our expectations.
I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with the results of doing Vision Therapy with my 9-year old son. ...his Occupational Therapist noticed a major improvement ... after he had done about 2 months ... Her comment was ... "something really came together neuro-integratively."
Now, after Vision Therapy, Joshua can catch and throw a ball with ease, walk a straight line without losing his balance, and can read a page in a book without the words skipping all over the page. I hope parents, teachers, therapists, and pediatricians will take another look at Vision Therapy, and ask people who have taken advantage of the service how they liked it.
After teaching learning disabled children for over 15 years, I am in awe of what I am witnessing. I have never seen such a remarkable change so quickly in a child who has struggled for years.
Now, she can read! ... and is rapidly catching up on the things she missed the last year of school. ... She can read without following the lines with a ruler or her finger.
Our lives changed dramatically and Matt's schoolwork improved drastically. He was taken out of his second grade Special Education Program.
Read full stories below.
Anthony had his best report card last quarter. He received 4 Bs and 2Cs. In 5th grade, he was in a special education class for reading. Going into 6th grade he will have help in class for his reading instead of a special education class outside of the regular classroom.
By Chris Sandoval
My son was having trouble in school. He would flip letters in words. He would also turn letters around. I thought he had a severe reading problem. Dr. X was recommended by the head of the Department of Special Education where we live. I had my son tested by Dr. X and I found out it was something that could be corrected through Vision Therapy. My son has shown great improvement. His reading has improved as well as his confidence in himself. My son is seven years old. I feel at this young age he will continue to improve.
Lisa A. Leach
I am thoroughly pleased with the Vision Therapy Krystin has received. Krystin has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (mild). She has had speech, special ed., O.T. and PT. in school and at a private clinic for five- and six-year-olds. She is in fourth grade this school year. This past school year since starting Vision Therapy, for the first time she has received satisfactory on her report card. The reason we started Vision Therapy was because Krystin would have all the letters in her spelling words, but would have them out of order. Then, being diagnosed with her eyes not always working together and starting Vision Therapy, after about only four sessions her spelling grades were 100% for the rest of the school year.
"I believe that my son would be in special education if it were not for Vision Therapy.
"I first noticed problems when my son was not reading. He had a difficult time comprehending printed writing and his eye tracking was poor. Vision Therapy gave him the tools to know what to do with print. It gave him the confidence to be successful in school and his social skills are much improved, both with his peers and adults. He now reads 2 to 3 grades above his standard.
As an educator, vision is now my first thought. When I see a child who is motivated to learn but can't read, I think that vision acuity may not be the only problem. I look for decreased letter tracking or sequencing of letters or complaints of words moving on pages. Many times these are the children who get missed. Vision problems need to be ruled out before considering an education or academic problem."
Kellie Bernd, elementary school teacher and mother
I have 20 years combined experience as a special class teacher and Resource Specialist from the Montebello Unified School District, graduate professor for "Assessment and Curriculum Development" classes at La Verne University, and presently, I am the Director and founder of the Unique Learning Program (a pilot "Special Needs" program) for Whittier Christian Schools. Yet, when it came to helping my son with his visual perceptual difficulties, my credentials were not enough.
It was in the 3rd grade, when I noticed my son's reading difficulties. Although he comprehended with ease, and kept a straight "A" report card at a private school, to read a page out loud became his greatest fear. My testing of him academically found him at grade level reading in word recognition and in the 10th grade in reading comprehension. His ability was at gifted levels, but a keen eye would see that his fluency in reading was not consistent with what his abilities dictated. When he read, he would have difficulty keeping his place, he would misread words, or guess words that would work in context. To keep his grades at superior levels, Garrett needed to work very hard. He read through a developed ability to read by context and learned to answer any questions by deductive reasoning.
By the 4th grade, Garrett's esteem began to waver, and he began to doubt his gifted ability because he read with limited fluency. I knew that his difficulty had to be one of visual perception, yet after being tested by two reputable optometrists, they did not see a visual perception problem. I began to visit the Fullerton School of Optometry and buy texts that taught students about visual perception. I had my doubts about the validity of Vision Therapy, and decided to study the field as I attempted to work with my son.
I was not surprised to find out that Garrett needed Vision Therapy. He was found to have convergence difficulties (convergence insufficiency), which made his eyes overwork and become tired when reading. It was interesting to see that when he read using both eyes "teaming together"; his fluency was significantly slower than when he read using one eye. He was placed in a 6-month program and, because I trusted no one else, I brought my son to Dr. X's Vision Therapy sessions.
Within 2 months times my son turned to me at church as we were singing. He said, "Mom, I think Vision Therapy is working! I can keep up in the hymnal!" I stood there, tears welling up in my eyes. His progress also was seen in his oral reading at school. His teacher had noticed the improvement and considered Garrett in the top third of the readers in class. For the first time in his life, I saw him choosing to read in his free time. Soon, Garrett was always reading, and he loved it! His interest was growing in many areas, and soon you would find him looking up many things on the Internet and finding information on things independent of assignments or suggestions.
After just 3 months, Garrett was re-tested, and was found to not need Vision Therapy any longer. He had trained his vision to correctly perceive. His desire to improve his reading gave him the nightly discipline. His commitment allowed him to sometimes do his therapy even beyond the recommended time. He was diligent and dedicated. And because Garrett had only an isolated visual perception weakness, and did not have any other learning disabilities, I am convinced that Vision Therapy allowed him the life-changing joy of reading with ease.
Professionally and personally, I am convinced that Vision Therapy is real! It is a vital necessity for anyone who has a perceptual weakness to the point that it affects his or her ability to find success at school or in work.
With a thrilled heart, full of gratitude and the utmost respect
Mrs. Joynce Inouye, M.A., Ed.
Director of the Unique Learning Program and Specialist of Learning Handicaps
Whittier Christian Schools, Whittier, CA 90604, Excellence in Education since 1947
A.B. began life in the usual way - vaginal birth, APGARs of eight and ten. At about six months, I noticed curved posture. He belly crawled until 12 months, crawled for 2 more and walked at 14 months. He had a few OT sessions around 12 months for being behind in his motor milestones. But talk?! At 18 months the nurse asked if he had six words yet. He had 75! ... and continues to awe his parents.
A.B. never joined in the group, didn't sing, didn't do the clapping or movements, crashed the toys, threw things to hear the crash. Nurse asks, "Does he cut with scissors?" Mom answers, "Give this kid scissors? You must be kidding."
"Does he color?"
"No, he throws crayons."
He's a handful.
A.B. still can't catch a ball, doesn't join in with songs and finger games (avoids and resists these). Wetness on clothes is a crisis, emotionally very labile (lay on floor and scream).
Can't assemble a Lego. It's very frustrating for him to not be able to find the part or fit it. No catching and lots of avoiding of things that is hard. Hard for mom to handle.
Turned 6 in kindergarten and began OT sessions for sensory integration. Behavior modulated but still difficult to join in. Gross and fine motor coordinates progress, but drawing is immature. He hates school, can't process interactions of peers and thinks there are problems when there are not. In the spring he began Vision Therapy on recommendation of the OT. Evaluation shows that he has proprioceptive and fine motor coordination problems of the eye muscles -- likely similar to his hand and other motor problems.
No wonder he couldn't join in, clap, throw, catch, do Legos or understand his peers. His eyes couldn't catch and hold an image very long -- only momentarily. No wonder he had such strong outbursts of frustration.
Over this past 18 months, A.B. has progressed farther than any of us could imagine. He even celebrates how his eyes have improved. He has fun challenging himself to build the Lego. He loves to draw, although he realizes he "hasn't been practicing since age 2" like many of his peers. He is doing better with ball skills. He has his 5th belt level in Tae Kwon Do. He enjoys school. He handles his frustrations much better than he used to and has many friends at school. The emotional stability and love of learning are real gifts to us. Getting his eyes to track and see and focus has given him the chance to learn without frustration and to avoid negative associations and patterns at school. I think he could have been labeled ADD from all sorts of avoidance behaviors.
Now he is able to clean his room. He is able to look around the room and for example, find all the Nerf arrows.
He is an excellent bike rider and has the visual awareness to judge traffic and cross streets (age 7 years, 10 months). He is very eager to try new motor skills and is able to accept verbal descriptions of how to place arms and hands in order to learn. Stamina has improved along with his own awareness of himself in relation to others.
I am so proud of the son who is emerging from this "handful" of negative and frustrating behaviors into a polite, creative, happy and confident person.
Is this a matter of just maturation, a skeptic would ask? Not if you could have seen his eye tracking upon evaluation ... and seen it now! We owe Dr. X a deep debt of gratitude for her expertise and courage to pioneer this branch of optometry.
P.B., A.B's Mom
Ben was in 2nd grade when the school approached us to suggest ADD/ADHD and/or Special Education issues. We started testing in school and privately. All the testing showed that Ben had trouble with visual processing.
The psychologist recommended Vision Therapy. Ben was tested. We discovered he needed bifocals and that his eye fatigued a lot when doing chalk board work and reading tasks. Ben has done amazingly well with Vision Therapy. After five months, his reading abilities have improved. He is now reading at grade level.
Ben has really enjoyed the Vision Therapy appointments, as well as the homework. I believe it works because it integrates the whole body. I have recommended Vision Therapy to some of the parents at the school where I work. Their kids are also having success.
I am very grateful for everything the Vision Therapy team has done for Ben and others. The homework was fun since it was varied, and often addressed different activities. Thanks
Michael Hibl, Ben's parent, 7/22/02
Your work with my son Evan has proven invaluable. It has made the difference between success and failure in his life. He has been coming along at a slow but steady pace; there are noticeable differences in his letter and number recognition, as well as his reading skills. I feel he would not be reading at all if it were not for your diligent work with him.
Many thanks for all you do. With the help and understanding, as well as the funding from the Special Education department of our school district, I hope to see Evan meet his full potential with Vision Therapy.
L.D., Evan's parent
I could not be happier with the changes we see. Christian is excited about reading and all the mechanics are in place for writing. The Special Ed teacher re-tested Christian's reading, and says it is now several years above grade level. His reading had been below grade level at the beginning of the year.
by Beth H., Christian's parent
The doctor wrote the following comments about Christian H., age 8
Problems prior to Vision Therapy:
Problems with eye "tracking"
Couldn't finish work in school
Struggled with reading and math
Avoided all sports (poor coordination)
Benefits of Vision Therapy:
There is little in life more rewarding than to watch your child glide effortlessly through a book after years of struggling over every word.
A year after the completion of your Vision Therapy program, Alex is a confident reader and is getting straight A's in school! That's a far cry from the days when he would lunge to the floor, book in hand, crying, "I can't do this, it's too hard."
Today he has graduated from the Special Ed. program, enjoys reading and has regained confidence as a young man.
Thank you for giving Alex the tools and the training to enjoy the "gift" of reading.
Claire Riendeau, Alex's parent
We brought Ty to Dr. X the summer after kindergarten. Ty had been experiencing difficulty in every aspect of school, including reading, writing, focusing and coordination. Dr. X, his staff and our family worked diligently with Ty after a thorough investigation of what Ty's needs were.
With the Vision Therapy sessions and the homework from Dr. X, along with the special education program at his school, Ty has not only met his scholastic goals, but has exceeded his teacher's and our expectations.
Maureen Woodside, Ty's parent
I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with the results of doing Vision Therapy with my 9-year old son. After only 3 months of doing exercises, I have noticed improvements in several areas:
he can sustain reading for longer
he can look at visually busy papers (such as maps) and sort out what is happening (he used to get overwhelmed)
he can copy things from the board onto paper more easily
In addition, his Occupational Therapist noticed a major improvement (she last saw him in June before he started Vision Therapy, and saw him again in October, after he had done about 2 months of exercises). Her comment was that "something really came together neuro-integratively" for my son.
I look forward to working with you further to obtain even more positive results.
Judi R., patient's parent
Joshua had been taking occupational and physical therapy during the time he was attending school. During this time, Joshua's gross motor skills did show improvement, but he still had difficulty performing tasks that you and I take for granted, such as catching and throwing a ball, walking in a straight line without losing his balance, etc.
A few years ago, Dr. X advised me to look into Vision Therapy for him. She told me that the way Joshua's eyes were working he would never be able to drive a car. We were skeptical at first that Vision Therapy was anything. Since Joshua is on medical assistance, and could get the service at no cost to us, we decided to try it.
Now, after Vision Therapy, Joshua can catch and throw a ball with ease, walk a straight line without losing his balance, and can read a page in a book without the words skipping all over the page.
I've noticed that a lot of children with problems in school also have problems with their eyes. With the experience that I've had with Joshua, wouldn't it make sense to take a closer look at Vision Therapy as a serious consideration in helping these children? How can a child read and learn if the words and letters on the page keep jumping around from place to place? That is exactly what happens to some of these kids. No amount of special education and physical and occupational therapy can fix this.
So I say to other parents, please try to look at vision therapy with an open mind. I realize that sometimes parents of kids with special needs can get up-in-arms abut the educational professionals responsible for placing their children. I know first-hand some of the things said. I've been involved with P.E.P., and have spoken to numerous home'school parents who are fed up with the public school system. Both sides have the best interest of the children in mind, and everyone has the same goal, but different philosophies come into play. I hope that in dealing with problems, neither side will close their minds to different ideas just because of bad feelings. When we do this, the children suffer.
I hope parents, teachers, therapists, and pediatricians will take another look at Vision Therapy, and ask people who have taken advantage of the service how they liked it.
Beth Taubel, Joshua's parent, 3/13/97
I wanted to give you an update of Brandon Cates' progress now that he has completed the Vision Therapy program. Brandon was first tested in November of first grade. His reading skills were at a beginning kindergarten level. Brandon qualified for service under the learning disabilities category. He made some good progress that first year. When re-tested in November of 2nd grade, he showed a little over a year's growth in both reading words and reading comprehension. For the next two years, Brandon showed no measurable growth. A three-year re-evaluation in November of 4th grade showed very limited growth. As you can see, after an initial surge the first year, Brandon made little growth the following years.
When Brandon started school this fall, I noticed an incredible change. I waited until Vision Therapy was completed (beg. of Nov. 5th grade) and then re'tested him a year after the last test. He obtained the following scores: reading words - 3.5; reading comprehension - 4.8. WOW! I knew there would be a change in reading, but to have grown by years is absolutely amazing. His writing and spelling have also shown wonderful growth. Brandon is now able to learn the skills I have been trying to teach him for the last three years, and he is able to apply and generalize what he is learning. After teaching learning disabled children for over 15 years, I am in awe of what I am witnessing. I have never seen such a remarkable change so quickly in a child who has struggled for years.
Thank you. Your willingness to get involved with Brandon, even before you knew him, has changed his life forever.
My daughter, Eleanor, was really struggling in school. She could not read. She was put into a special education class and was spending a great deal of time away from her regular class. Her self-esteem was very low.
Vision Therapy has helped Eleanor feel good about herself. Now, she can read! She reads books by herself and is rapidly catching up on the things she missed the last year of school. Her handwriting has improved and she remembers what she has read. She can read without following the lines with a ruler or her finger.
We feel that Eleanor has gained control of her life, self-esteem and education as a result of going through Vision Therapy. She looks forward to doing things every day, because she knows she can do them.
Heather Herrera (mother of Eleanor), December 7, 1999
I believe Nick is more confident in school. He is not so unsure of his abilities as he has experienced success in both modified and regular classes and is eager to begin high school in the fall.
Linda R. McNerney, Nick's Mother
Matt's Special Education teacher described him as a depressed and sad little boy. She felt he was very smart and his school struggle was confusing everyone. At Matt's first visit, you determined that he needed therapeutic lenses. I will never forget how astonished Matt was once he was able to finally see what words were really supposed to look like. Our lives changed dramatically and Matt's schoolwork improved drastically. He was taken out of his second grade Special Education Program. This year in third grade Matt did so well in school that he was awarded Student of the Month for Most Improvement.
Mom of Matt (age 8)