My page 1 story today is all about vision therapy, which is like physical therapy for your eyes. It can be used to help kids who may otherwise be diagnosed as learning delayed when really, they just can’t get their eyes to work together to read a line on the page.
It’s a long story as is, but there’s still a lot of interesting stuff I learned in the course of reporting that didn’t make the final cut. However, no space limits on the interwebz! So here are the extras:
• Dr. Benjamin Winters, optometrist, on why we might be seeing an uptick in the kind of vision problems that can cause learning difficulties:
“Are they developmentally prepared to do all the work they need to at school? I think we’re forcing way too many kids to do things they’re not developmentally prepared for.”
Vision is not a “boom, done” kind of faculty.
“If you think about how the visual system develops ... We kind of assume that how we see right now and look out, that that just happens. But everything, just learning how to see lines and colors and shapes, all of that is something that we have to develop in childhood.”
And today, kids are not experiencing childhood the same way they used to.
“Even if we go back 20-30 years, kids were outside and they were climbing trees and throwing rocks ... Eyes were moving and understanding where things are … versus a child sitting and watching TV.”
In the past, kids were out “playing and experiencing that three-dimensional world we live in. Today — much more inside, much more apt to be on a device of some kind that’s a two-dimensional object.”
• Lynn DeVore, mother of 11-year-old Shelby DeVore, who was 8 before she was diagnosed with a severe convergence insufficiency:
“We realized at probably about age 4 that there was a problem with her reading; she could read 12 books to us, but upon further examination, she actually had memorized 12 books ... Some of them were good sized 65-page Dr. Seuss books.”
On what Shelby’s eyes were actually doing and why reading was nearly impossible:
“She was trying to take half of a word off one line and half of a word off another line and trying to make a word.”
“About three months after vision therapy, she asked me a question: ‘Mom, I thought everybody did math diagonally?’ When we got into double digit addition, 14 +7 was always 147, and I could not figure out why we were struggling with that ... When we did 14 beans + 7 beans, she always got 21,” but on paper, where her eyes couldn’t line up the figures, “She compensated and she literally saw her math diagonally.”
Also, here’s a good story in the New York Times on vision therapy’s advantages and limitations. Some people are highly critical of it.
Have any of you experienced “binocular vision problems” like this? Or have your kids? What kind of help or resources did you find? Let me know in the comments or email me directly.