Last June my seven-year-old son, just done with first grade, started vision therapy. You can read more here about what led us to take this route, and what my hopes for him were at the time.
We had Dash’s final assessment at the eye doctor yesterday. She was really happy with his progress, which has continued in the past three months since he stopped going to the twice-weekly therapy sessions. He has “maintentance” exercises to do at home, and though I felt we hadn’t been doing enough, we were actually keeping up quite well. We will keep doing these in the coming months to cement his progress.
It’s hard to explain how his vision has improved because I don’t entirely understand what they measure, but his eyes are really strong now. He can focus his two eyes independently and together, and jump from near to far focusing really well. These were two of the main problems he had when we started. In short, it means that he no longer finds the words are “going blurry” and has no trouble tracking from the end of one line to the start of the next. He has been reading above grade level since before Christmas and I know his reading is getting faster and more fluent. His writing has also got much neater lately, though I can’t tell if that’s connected or just because he’s taking more care with it at the moment.
I can’t state categorically that vision therapy was The Answer to All Our Woes, but I do strongly suspect it has made a big difference. There’s no way of knowing how Dash’s vision/reading/writing would have changed over the past nine months or so without therapy; but I don’t think the blurry thing was going away on its own, and it was a real impediment. He’s still what I’d call a reluctant reader – he has to be reminded to do his daily 20 minutes, and hardly ever cracks a book just for fun, but he’s on the twelfth of the Magic Tree House series now and easily reading a chapter a night. He says his favourite thing to do is writing; which I can hardly complain about.
My advice would be that if you have a child who seems to have problems reading, listen to your gut. Check out the information here for starters, and go through the checklist. Even if your child has been tested to have 20/20 eyesight by a regular optometrist, it might be worth going to a pediatric (or developmental) optometrist to find out more about their vision.
When she’s not overseeing homework or gazing dazedly at the state of the carpet, Christine bakes too many muffins and writes on the Internet wherever they’ll have her. You can read more about Dash’s adventures with vision therapy, and everything else in her life, at her personal blog, Awfully Chipper.