Monday was a big day for us.
It was the day my oldest son completed his Vision Therapy sessions for the summer. We have been going to the eye doctor from 9 to 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday this entire summer. On days off, we do about 30 minutes of homework.
I have been meaning to write a post about Vision Therapy for the past few months. My husband and I had never heard of Vision Therapy until about a year ago, so I thought it might be helpful to other parents to know what it is, what the sessions are like and whether it helped.
I was skeptical of the idea of Vision Therapy when my son’s eye doctor mentioned it during his routine eye exam going into first grade. Not all eye doctors offer Vision Therapy, and we just happened to choose one who specializes in it.
The eye doctor asked me if my son had any troubles with copy work, spelling, handwriting or grew tired easily while reading.
“Hmmmm,” I thought. “Well, yes, yes, yes and yes.”
But at the time, we weren’t ready for the expense and time commitment that the therapy would require.
Almost a year later, when my son was struggling with these same issues in second grade, we took him to a reading specialist for an evaluation. The teacher said that his reading was well above his grade level. However, she did notice that he was “moving his eyes funny” when he looked at the paper. She tried several different colored overlays, but nothing seemed to help.
The final nudge I got to try Vision Therapy came this spring when I attended several sessions at the home school conference on how to identify learning struggles. My oldest son is uniquely intelligent in many ways that just blow my mind. But other simple things (such as spelling and writing) seem to drain him of all of his energy.
This speaker mentioned that many times kids with these struggles actually have an issue with their eyes. The eye muscles aren’t working properly together, which also is called eye “teaming” or “binocularity”.
Those were the same terms the eye doctor had used to describe what was happening with my son’s eyes! As I read about this problem, I found more sources that confirmed that many children have an issue with their eye muscles that might be causing all sorts of problems in school, but it is never identified.
So, we decided it was time to give it a try.
Vision Therapy consisted of 21, one-hour sessions. (In some cases, medical insurance will pay for the therapy, but so far, we haven’t been so lucky.)
During the sessions, my son worked with a therapist on a combination of computer programs and other types of exercises that helped strengthen his eye muscles, improve his visual memory, and increase his ability to focus.
Many of the exercises we did at home involved holding two objects in front of him at varying lengths. He had to focus hard on the first object until he saw two of the object in the background. At first, he could only hold his focus for less than a minute. By the end of the sessions, he could hold his gaze for as long as six minutes.
Some of the activities seemed really silly. One was called pursuit reading. He had to read a book while walking around the room and moving the book in circles.
I asked the therapist if she would also like him to stand on his head and do cartwheels while reading, but she said, “no”. =]
So, did Vision Therapy help? We really don’t know at this point.
The doctor said that the therapy is sort of like riding a bike. Once he has trained his eyes, they will always work better together.
However, we are supposed to continue his eye-strengthening activities several times a week. For how long? Well, I guess it’s like lifting weights. The more he does it, the better his eyes will work.
Have you had any experience with Vision Therapy? I would love to hear if it worked for anyone else!