That picture, that one up there, makes me cry. My daughter is reading a book. On her own. If your child has never struggled to read, then this blog post isn't for you--but it may be for someone you know, so bear with me. I try to write less than more on here, but this is too important not to pass on.
Do you know someone who has been told that their child is suffering from the symptoms of ADD? Things like:
o difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless
o inability to sustain focus on tasks or activities
o difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
o frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
o disorganized work habits
o failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores (i.e. miserable homework time)
Well, that's my daughter. Well, was my daughter. I look at the picture up there, and I am amazed. I did a lot of research on how I could help her, and medication seemed to be the only way. I took her to the eye doctor, and it turns out she has 20/20 eyesight. Great. She can see far away and she can see up close. It wasn't an eyesight problem...
Then someone mentioned vision therapy and a developmental optometrist; a doctor who has special schooling and focuses on, well, focusing, or “vision.” Not isolated focusing, but eye tracking, eye teaming, and peripheral vision. All the things that we take for granted (if we can see!)
I started to think back, and remembered all of the things that scared her: riding a bike, swinging on a swing, going off a diving board, jumping rope, catching a ball, laser tag, dancing in dimmed lights to a disco ball. All of the normal things that kids love to do, and typically do with ease and without fear.
After doing a lot more research, I decided to give it a try, as I had nothing to lose. I believe that ADD is a diagnosis of elimination, and I wanted to eliminate a “vision” problem. Note I didn’t say “eyesight” because I already knew she had 20/20 eyesight. I also requested that the school psychologist do a battery of tests, and as it turns out, she has very high cognitive abilities (+90% ile), and is in the -1% for visual motor skills. "Motor" was the key word that gave me hope--motor skills can be impoved with exercises.
Eight weeks ago, we embarked on our vision therapy journey, and with the help of Robin Beniot and her book, “Jillian’s Story,” Dr. Allison Falden at Healthy Eye in Ponte Vedra, a team of great teachers at school, and a lot of vision therapy homework, my daughter caught a ball for the first time 6 weeks ago. Dr. Allison taught her to catch the one that “wasn’t fuzzy.” Imagine that. I never thought to ask her "How many balls do you see?" Silly me. ;-)
She now knows that when her eyes are tired, she sees two (double vision) and she needs to rest them, and knows how. She has learned to “hard focus” when reading to force herself to see only one chunk of letters (words) and has improved beyond my wildest dreams in her academics, and consequently her motivation and self concept. A dream domino effect!
We are still on our journey, but I felt it was time to share, so that maybe, just maybe, someone who is struggling to find the answer to a child with similar difficulties might find success with vision therapy.
Disclaimer: If a child has ADD/ADHD, then vision therapy may not be the answer, and likewise, if a child has trouble focusing because of vision, then medication may not be the answer. No promises, just hope…