Schoolwork Is A Breeze Now for Jonah
Jonah’s vision improved so he can work for longer periods . Handwriting and reading proficiency have increased too.
By Steph and Jeff, Jonah's parents, Woodbury, NJ
Dear Dr. Gallaway,
As a special education teacher I have been exposed to a multitude of strategies and approaches for teaching kids how to read and write. In my twelve years of teaching experience, I have successfully taught numerous kids, with varied ability levels to read and write. Even with my background knowledge to guide me and with one on one instruction, Jonah was unable to read and write beyond an early first grade level even though he was moving through second grade. Looking back, Jonah exhibited symptoms of his eye issues at the age of three and it became more evident to me when he went to pre-school as a four year old and cried when he had to complete a coloring page for homework. Hindsight is 20/20.
Here was a boy with amazing listening comprehension (reading books to him like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Harry Potter series) and vocabulary but could not remember the sight word “of”. What was the missing piece? I never imagined that the missing piece would involve his eyes as we had been taking Jonah to the eye doctor since the age of 18 months. He attended the eye doctor every four months to monitor and treat lazy eye in both eyes. We had diligently patched his eye for 1-2 hours, seven days a week over three years. He successfully underwent eye surgery to shorten his eye muscles in order to help control his eye drifting. In spite of all of this care and intervention, Jonah’s eyes continued to drift. The connection between his eyes, and his inability to progress in writing and reading, was never made under the care of his previous eye doctor.
Here was a boy with amazing listening comprehension and vocabulary but could not remember the sight word “of”. What was the missing piece? I never imagined that it would involve his eyes.
Then one day a friend sent me an email with information about a free informational session on the topic of vision therapy with Dr. Gallaway. The email offered the idea that vision issues (not eye sight, as Jonah has 20/20 vision) can impede learning. Included in the email was a list of symptoms that a child may exhibit if they have vision issues. Our son demonstrated nine out of ten. Within a week of attending this meeting at Dr. Gallaway’s office, Jonah was evaluated and signed up for vision therapy sessions. Along with vision therapy, I implemented a new reading program called Wilson. Although vision therapy homework and Wilson were a challenge, Jonah rose to the challenge. Sometimes with tears.
Prior to vision therapy here are some of the symptoms Jonah displayed:
- Complaining and crying during school work, especially reading and writing.
- Highly distractible and constant movement-tapping his hand or foot during schoolwork.
- Off task and avoidance behaviors
- Unable to read and spell simple three letter sight words
- Writing was laborious. He wrote very large, floating letters and struggled to write letters correctly.
- 10-15 minute work stamina. Continually putting his head down during working time.
- Lack of self confidence. Nearly every day he cried and shared with me that he felt he was stupid.
- Never colored or wanted to make craft projects.
- Could not build Lego sets.
- Needed complete silence when reading and writing.
Today Jonah is able to:
- Work for 30-40 minute stretches with short five minute breaks during his 3 hour work each day.
- Write neatly with appropriate sized letters and spacing.
- Builds his own Lego sets with minimal if any help from us.
- Reading and writing sight words like because, friend, again.
- No crying and little complaining (well, he is still an 8 year-old who would rather be playing than completing schoolwork).
- READ!! He just recently finished a Magic Tree House book which is on a beginning third grade level. Amazing, when you consider last year he could barely and I mean barely read Green Eggs and Ham. In fact, he would literally run away from me if I approached him with a book to read.
- Can work with his sister at the same table.
- Self-confidence…he said to me the other day, “Now that I can read, I just can’t stop. I see a sign, I read it. I see a book, I read it.”
- Picks up crayons and colors with his sister and sometimes even on his own.
Vision therapy was the missing piece for Jonah. The level of thankfulness that my husband and I have for Dr. Gallaway and Miss Debbie runs deep and is difficult to put into words. Their knowledge and care for Jonah were evident week after week.
Was there a time commitment? You bet. Was there a financial commitment? Definitely. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
After 14 months of vision therapy, Jonah still loves coming and can share with you how vision therapy has helped him. We know this experience will benefit him for the rest of his life!
With Deepest Gratitude,
Steph, Jonah’s mom and special education teacher, Woodbury, NJ
Jeff , Jonah’s dad and art teacher, Woodbury, NJ