I recently read an article on a blog where a mother, an educator herself, had a child with learning disabilities and was struggling to find treatment that had a significant impact on her child’s learning ability.
A Mom’s Journey
She writes, “Dr. Manniko estimates that 20% of students in K-12 are learning disabled and of that group, 80% of these children experience visual problems that cause their learning issues. The diagnoses go beyond the 20/20 visual acuity, uncovering issues like amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), general binocular problems (eyes failing to work together), etc. He measures reading speed, next line identification, eye movement efficiency, backward movement and a number of other factors involved in reading.
According to Dr. Manniko, “Individuals who are learning disabled generally make significantly more eye movements and spend greater time focusing on each word, while getting less information than a strong reader. A common pattern among learning disabled individuals is that their eyes do not function together, hindering their reading comprehension.”
Following treatment for the presenting vision difficulty, this mom found that her child improved significantly, and is now an advocate for vision therapy as a treatment technique for children with learning disabilities.
A Practitioner’s Journey
As a Behavioral Optometrist, I know of the power of these techniques because I see them work every day with children in my office. I previously practiced regular Optometry, but became frustrated when I found I could not help child after child who were suffering from learning disabilities of various sorts.
I began to study, to learn, to change my fundamental philosophy and to try and establish a new approach to treating these needy children. Two decades later and I am more intrigued and more committed to helping these kids than ever! In fact, I am so committed to helping children with learning disabilities that I have now published an entire, based-at-home vision therapy program, using EXACTLY the same therapies and exercises I use in my office, so I know that these activities are absolutely guaranteed to work, usually to a greater degree.
A Preschooler’s Journey
A question many young mom’s ask me is, “Do we have to wait until grade school (and my child having a significant learning disability) before we start to help them?”
This question challenged me, because it showed that most parent’s of preschool or kindergarten children care enough for their kids that they want to be proactive rather than reactive in helping their learning. As one mom told me, “Even if my son is a normal learner, couldn’t your therapies take him from being an average or above average learner to becoming a top student?”
The answer is, “Yes!” However, many of the therapies we apply to older children who have learning disabilities are difficult to apply to younger kids. In fact, when treating preschool and kindergarten children you need to slant the therapies towards whole body and gross motor activities, while still retaining the vision therapy aimed at focus, eye coordination, visualization for spelling, fine motor for writing, sequencing and coding.
So, with a lot of deep thought, a bit of research and a couple of misspent weekends, I prepared the first internet based home vision therapy program designed especially for preschoolers. I have kept it inexpensive, easy to understand and simple to apply.
If you are concerned about your preschool child and their development, visual or otherwise, please contact me for more information. These mom’s are right: we should be proactive not reactive, and we should give our kids every chance to perform to their very best in preschool, school and beyond into life!