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Learning Disabilities (LD's) - ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Dyslexia, Special Education

Sibling Success Story!

Before vision therapy my son’s eyes would be unfocused, so it was hard for him to focus on individual words. This made it so he had terrible fluency. When he read out loud it was hard to understand what was being said because it was so choppy. Lack of fluency made comprehension difficult.

Now he can read smoothly, making it pleasant to hear him and easy to understand. He got a 4.0 at Morgan Middle School this year and I am confident that would not have happened without eye therapy.

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A.H. foudn success after vision therapy at Washington and Vision Therapy CenterOur son started vision therapy having numerous issues, including a diagnosis of ADHD and avoidance towards reading. He was uncoordinated and had trouble with his fine motor skills. We discovered after a vision evaluation that he had some deep-rooted vision problems. We signed on for 32 weeks of therapy and were delightfully surprised with the results.

Our son has a new outlook on reading and it is easier since he is not seeing double every time he opens a book.  His coordination has improved drastically and he enjoys doing fine motor tasks such as putting together legos. We have nothing but praise for Dr. Winters and his staff at WAVTC. Their personal touch, flexibility and caring personalities really make the therapy a joy. We can't say enough for how this has helped our child and will be forever grateful to Dr. Winters and his staff. If you are skeptical, do not be: this is by far the best thing that one can do for a child that is acting up in class, avoiding reading and not liking school. It very well may be just a vision issue.

B.O. is a young boy who found success from vision therapyAt five months old, my son was infected with a flu virus, which turned into meningitis.  He suffered many serious seizures and strokes during his month in the hospital.  Consequently, his vision has been affected.  He has worn glasses since he was a year old.  He has always been ‘clumsy’ and ‘uncoordinated’.  He has had attention and focus issues.  When it came time to learn to read, he was unable to decipher more than two-letter words and even that was very difficult.  He continued to score high on oral evaluations.  He learned his ABC’s very early and very quickly, impressing his preschool teacher as the only one who knew the sounds of the letters, but when he tried to look at words on paper (we had played oral letter games in the car) he was unable to link the letters together and often lost his place or even forgot what letter he had just seen.  He was focusing so hard on just deciphering what he was seeing, that he couldn’t keep it in his head long enough to get any meaning out of it.

He had been through many evaluations and sessions of physical therapy and speech therapy at Children’s Village, so we weren’t sure what his problem was.  His doctor said that his vision had been corrected with glasses to as near as 20/20 as he was going to get, but his symptoms continued.  A Special Ed teacher friend recommended Washington Vision Therapy to us and we are so thankful.  Dr. Winters evaluated him and his problems finally started making sense.  We had new hope.  There was a real reason he wasn't having success AND something could be done!

At his first 8 week progress check, he had improved enough that he was gaining confidence and was willing to try again. By the second 8 week check, he'd begun to read without the frustration he had before, as long as we took things in small chunks.  We’ve now completed 8 months of therapy.  We will finish his last 8 weeks after taking a long (maybe 2 year) break in order for him to mature.  He has been able to finish his first-grade reading program.  He can focus on an assignment and doesn’t fall or trip nearly as much.  His Sunday School teacher says she can tell the difference in his ability to follow along and do the activities and seat work.  Best of all, he has confidence and doesn’t think he’s stupid anymore.  He will get a book on his own and sit down to look at it.  Even though reading isn’t easy for him, and he still struggles, he isn’t afraid to try because he’s having success.

"I had a gut feeling that his issue was a vision issue, not a sight issue"

My son has had difficulty with reading since kindergarten.  It was obvious to me something just wasn’t right.  When we would sit down to read it appeared he was reading well until we focused on recognizing specific words in the context of the material.  It was difficult for me to understand why he couldn’t recognize simple sight-words (the, at, but, and, etc.), yet he could read larger words.  I had never heard or seen this before and it made absolutely no sense.  I also couldn’t understand how he had managed to get by for so long in school without really reading.  I remember asking his teacher regularly throughout kindergarten and first grade how he was doing because things weren’t “adding up” at home when we worked on reading and homework.  I kept hearing that he was doing fine.  At the end of the year parent conference however, I was told he was so far behind that there was no way he could catch up.  I couldn’t understand how this could be when he was “doing fine?” Why didn’t I trust my gut feeling that something wasn’t right?  I blamed myself, thought that maybe I wasn’t doing enough; maybe we weren’t working hard enough. How could I not find him the help he needed?  The hardest question I asked myself was how could I fail my son? Over the years that followed, we learned that he had become incredibly efficient at memorizing anything he verbally heard; this was how he compensated and managed to get by in school for so long.  It was amazing to realize that he could barely read; yet he could learn, comprehend, and manage to do the work by using his auditory system.

I had taken my son to 4 or 5 optometrists to have his eyes examined wondering if this could be the problem.  I had a gut feeling that his issue was a vision issue, not a sight issue.  Every optometrist found the same thing: he had 20/20 vision with a slight astigmatism. They prescribed glasses for reading and close up work.  When I took him in for his last yearly check-up before starting down this road of vision therapy, I really pressed hard with the same question as before, asking if this could be a vision issue, not a sight issue.  I kept saying those are not the same things.  He can “see,” but his eyes don’t seem to work correctly.  I didn’t know how to explain what I meant any other way. 

Out of the blue, at the end of our appointment, our optometrist decided to send us to another office in Yakima.  He heard that they could do some vision testing for home therapy.  My son went through more examinations followed by specific testing to see if he could benefit from vision exercises.  It was found he could.  It was also determined that his issue was beyond this doctor’s scope of practice. I so was pleased to finally have someone hear me; it made me finally feel validated.  Everything I had been feeling and saying for 4 years had been addressed and I had a way to help my child have a future!  Still frustrated but finally able to try to help his teachers understand he had some issues we were working on resolving, he was placed in Resource Reading class and got an IEP that allowed specific accommodations to be made so that he could test in a way that would help him. These resources helped him with his confidence.  However, he continued to have difficulties in reading and had absolutely no interest in reading.  He did have success in his overall school performance however due to his IEP and wonderful teachers.

We now started fifth grade, still frustrated that any major progress had not occurred.  The feeling of helplessness and frustration at my own inability to keep my son from falling through the cracks in middle school was overwhelming.  I couldn’t bear the thought of him not having a future. How could he succeed in life if he couldn’t read!? 

One day, I was on Facebook and our lives changed in a moment.  I read a post of a friend who had gone to a seminar for vision therapy at the Washington Vision Therapy Center (WAVTC).  I immediately asked her where this office was.  I contacted WAVTC and scheduled to attend their next seminar.  As I sat there, tears filled my eyes and I wept as I read through the brochure!  Every single item on it described my son perfectly.  I looked at my husband and said “this is it, this is his issue!”  When Dr. Winters started speaking I cried even more.  This was it, this was the answer!! I left that office knowing I had to do this for my son!  We scheduled testing for him and waited for the results.  He was diagnosed with seven different visual conditions that would affect his ability to take in visual information. Dr. Winters estimated 9 months completion time for vision therapy.  Within weeks, my son’s teachers, our friends and our immediate family noticed a significant difference in his confidence.  It sky-rocketed!  It was so obvious something was different and significantly helping him.  His attitude changed, he became less aggressive and agitated.  He quit rubbing his eyes all of the time and complaining about his eyes being tired.  His severe headaches became minimal.  He became a different child in many areas.  School became a place he began to enjoy more and he didn’t feel as though he stood out in a bad way as much. 

There were times of difficulty throughout this process and we were told at the outset of therapy that there would be plateaus in the process.  I will never forget in August, 7 months from the start of therapy, we were both ready to give up. My son was frustrated and made every day difficult to get through his therapy.  I was frustrated because he was being difficult and I was ready to give up too. At our next appointment I told Dr. Winters I didn’t know how much longer I could do this, and that I was scared it wasn’t going to “stick.”   I will never forget what Dr. Winters said. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “My heart is in this! I don’t know what the problem is and why things aren’t connecting quite yet, but I will do whatever it takes to figure it out.”  He was as determined to help my son as we were!  We took a few weeks off for a break, came back strong and within a few weeks, to our amazement, we were done!  What a bitter-sweet moment. On the day of my son’s graduation, I was stunned. I looked at Dr. Winters through tears of shock and relief and said “is it going to stick?”  What a crazy question!  He would never let us out of there unless it would.

My son is an inspiration to me!  He completed vision therapy on October 5, 2011, exactly 9 months after starting the program.  He was diligent, dedicated and extremely focused. He was a hard worker because he knew it was making a difference and that it was helping. Since completing vision therapy my son is much more confident, secure and relaxed. There is a huge difference from the child he was before who had little confidence and was frustrated, and was agitated and aggressive.  He is now enrolled in the Read Right program to help improve his reading skills.  Due to his vision issues he was very behind in reading, only at a mid-2nd grade-level in May of 2011.  He is now, after 21.5 hours of tutoring, starting the 4th grade reading-level.  His interest in reading has improved to the point that he now enjoys listening and reading along to books on his MP3 player and going to the library so he can participate in Battle of the Books for 6th grade.  By the end of 6th grade I have no doubt my son will be reading at his grade level or beyond, therefore taking him out of Resource Reading and his IEP, which is our goal.  He is able to read math word-problems now, whereas before he couldn’t get through the first few words.  His teacher commented that she realized he had just started reading the problems to her instead of asking her to read to him.  It has made me realize that everything is connected: vision comes first and then you build upon that foundation by adding new skills that complement his newly-found visual ability!  It is a process which starts with fixing the issue, which was his vision.

This experience has given my son a new future.  His life has been changed forever and he now has opportunities for successes in his life he may never have had before.  In addition to the knowledge Dr. Winters, Dr. Copeland and the staff at WAVTC have in vision therapy, they also offer families hope, support and love.  This program is about changing lives!  Though you walk through the doors of WAVTC to help your child, wife, husband or grandchild, you walk out the same doors knowing that this program and people helped you and your entire family gain an incredible amount of knowledge, strength and progress!  I would like to say a special THANK YOU to Dr. Winters, Carrie, Karen, Susan, and Adina from WATVC and to Bob and Carolyn McLaughlin and the tutors at Read Right for giving of themselves above and beyond, for their dedicated work and most of all for their passion to help others which drives them every day to get up and do it again and again!  You are all sent from above, an answer to prayer.  Our appreciation will never be expressed enough. 

We love you, thank you and pray God blesses you in your lives as you have blessed us in ours!

"By going to therapy and doing my home activities, my eyes feel a lot better. "

Vision Therapy helped me a lot. My eyes were tired all the time so they would roll to reset their focus. By going to therapy and doing my home activities, my eyes feel a lot better. 

- Sydney Peters


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