Tigger, my 9 yr. old son who is currently in third grade, has been in many supplemental programs in his young life...Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Reading Recovery, Reading Support, and finally the latest, Vision therapy. And yet, learning to read and write has not been an easy process for him. Vision Therapy is somewhat controversial in the Educational and Medical Worlds. I know. I, as his mother, did some extensive research before we committed to it. However, I think it is working! Hold on...I'm not convinced that it is the "therapy" per se. Let me clarify.
Although we have been pretty diligent about taking Tigger down to OSU for therapy two times a month in addition to doing his therapy exercises at home 3-4 times a week, I think it is working because Tigger is ready! The vision therapy has made it really clear to Tigger that he has to look at the print in order to read. It has also made it really apparent to his parents and teachers that Tigger has been trying to read without looking. This seems obvious to most of us, but let me tell you a little more about Tigger.
Tigger is an auditory learner. He loves to listen to high level children's novels on CD from our local library when he is trying to get to sleep at night. Tigger loves stories. I have read to him since the day he was born. Many mornings and every night, he begs me to read to him. He has grown up in a rich literary environment and yet phonics are hard for Tigger. Applying letter sounds and recognizing word patterns is hard work and far from automatic for him. Tigger is busy...bouncy. It has always been hard for him to sit for long periods of time. Reading, for Tigger, is way to slow and methodical.
So, is Vision Therapy really working? Yes and no. No, because Tigger has had all of the pieces of the literacy puzzle all along, but yes, because he neglected the visual piece. Reading is a visual activity. Tigger's visual therapy brought that piece to the forefront. You have to look to read the print on the page and make meaning. Tigger has been trying to read without looking! His sense of story and knowledge of the language is so well developed that he has been trying to muddle through learning to how to read without looking. Slowly, but surely, under the watchful eye and careful guidance of his teachers and parents, Tigger is clawing his way into the the Literacy Club.