Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WELCOME TO ALLI'S VISION THERAPY STORY - READ THIS POST FIRST


The goal of this blog is to condense the story of Alli's journey through Vision Therapy.  I have been documenting it all along on my other TWO blogs, but I wanted to condense it all in one nice organized place so here it is.  At the top of this blog you will see links to all the pages you will need to read about Alli and her journey from STRUGGLING to read the book Jill is holding (on the left)....to being ABLE to read the story she is holding (on the right).  Below I list some helpful information for you in setting out to learn about Vision Therapy.

I also wanted to briefly mention that a lot of anti-vision therapy "stuff" out there argues that Vision Therapy may not be the only "therapy" that is helping a child to improve in school.  Often, when children are doing VT, they also have a lot of other interventions going on, reading tutor, speech therapy, IEPs, etc....  I am sure that in many cases this might be true, but one of the things I LOVE about Alli's story is that there was NO OTHER intervention. 

  • She did not have a reading specialist working with her - Only me, who she had one on one for TWO years, doing my best to teach her how to read.   (I have a MASTERS DEGREE in Math, not reading....)
  • She did not have an IEP, resource classes or specialists.  She did not go to a tutor for anything.  Again, it was me and her....
  • She was not going to a speech therapist
  • There was nothing that changed for her in the 6 months between not reading and reading, EXCEPT, we started VISION THERAPY!! 
If you want to learn more about this journey we have been one please read all of the bullets below and then start where you would like:


  • I recommend you start with HOW VISION THERAPY CHANGED ALLI'S LIFE.  I say this because when I first started on this journey myself I really just wanted a QUICK answer...will this work?  is it worth the money?  Alli cannot even read, what if this only helps if a child can read?  are there other success stories out there?  This is the QUICK answer....
  • Next, THE LONG ROAD WE TRAVELED will take you through Alli's entire life talking about all the things along the way that were symptoms of vision problems, but I did not know it at the time.  You can skip this if you are not interested. Her VT story makes sense without reading this post.  Maybe a good read for someone you know who has a 2 year old who REFUSES to do jigsaw puzzles or color in coloring books.  DISCLAIMER....This is all my own opinion, I actually do not know if her vision problems caused her to not like blocks, legos, dot to dots, worksheets, etc.....but I feel pretty strongly that it is related. 
  • Next, I suggest you click on ALLI'S JOURNEY.  This post is like a long conversation with me.  It starts in the beginning when I thought she was FINALLY going to have reading CLICK, goes through the trials of being told she needs glasses and then being told she doesn't need glasses.  I explain how I felt as I was told over and over DO NOT DO VISION THERAPY.  Next, I link to every blog post I wrote as Alli DID do Vision Therapy.  And FINALLY, my thoughts on Vision Therapy after dedicating over 130 hours, $2000, and realizing it is by far THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE AS A MOTHER.  

  • AND if you are interested in reading a more detailed journey then you would want to read the CLOSER LOOK page. This page will go through a little of what therapy looked like for Alli along with the overall improvements as activities were completed. 
ENJOY this site and PLEASE contact me using the contact form to the right.  If you have any questions or you have information you would like me to add to this blog (especially under the RESOURCES heading) I would love to hear from you.

Have a beautiful day!!
Jenny

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A MUCH NEEDED BREAK FROM SCHOOL

 For those of you who do not know our story, about 18 months ago we embarked on a journey to fix Alli's vision.  We were told it would not help her learn to read....dont waste your time, nearly everyone said....But we ignored them and happily discovered that after Alli learned to use her eyes correctly, she started to read!!  We had spent 120 hours - spread out over 5 months - doing Vision Therapy.  (If you want to know more about our background, click the link below





For those of you who already know our story, I wanted to share with you a little about how things are going for us.  At the end of the school year Alli's reading level was at the beginning of Second Grade.  This is about 6 months behind where she should have been, BUT 3 YEARS AHEAD of where she would have been had we never tried Vision Therapy.  We used the All About Reading and All About Spelling and I could not be happier with their curriculum.   Click below to link to a post about these books:





For 3 years I have never taken a break from school with Alli.  It was always one step forward and three steps back for her, reading or math, it didnt matter.  Nothing came easy for her so I could never take breaks from school.  Actually, I did take a few breaks and it was almost like starting over afterward.  It was easier to just keep doing a little of school to keep it fresh in her mind.  We did school on vacations, we did school on weekends, we did school non-stop for 3 years.  Then, the summer of 2014 happened.


Our family was planning an EPIC bike tour through British Columbia for 7 weeks.  Our goal was to cycle 800 miles.  I had not intended to take a break from doing school with Alli.  I brought her reading book, her spelling list, cards to play math games, 12 lessons from her All About Reading book.  I was not going to do A LOT of school every day, but I wanted to at least keep stuff fresh in her mind.  Then reality hit.


Her school stuff never even came out of the bike bag.  Shane pulled it around for 7 weeks - 1000 miles of cycling  - but it was not ever used. There were so many exciting things to be doing. Swimming, playing tag, climbing, waterparks, berry picking, libraries, people's homes (some people hosted us for free on our trip), roller rinks, creeks and rivers, playgrounds, etc....not to mention - we spent 120 hours on our bikes in route....yes, the same amount of time we spent doing Vision Therapy.  Crazy coincidence, eh?



Actually, on Day 38 (we were gone 50 days) I pulled out her book and she read to me.  A whole story....she hadnt seen that story in 8 weeks, but she read it to me.  



 I am so glad that we took a break.  Both of us needed it desperately.  We took the entire summer off and she isnt behind in anything.  

If you want to read about some of our bike trip, you can start by clicking the link below

1000 MILES of BIKING
(all the pictures in this post are from our bike trip this summer)




Sunday, April 27, 2014

ALL ABOUT READING - The key to success


I cannot say enough amazing things about this program.  Alli has absolutely BLOSSOMED before my eyes with this program.  Both the Reading and the Spelling are simply amazing.  (click on the above picture to go to their website)

We have been using these books since February.  I started both programs at the very beginning even though she already knew her letter sounds, and basic sight words, etc.... I just know that the more successful she feels, the better things go.  
These two programs have helped to make school AMAZING for us and Alli feels SO GREAT about what she has accomplished.  She finished Level 1 of the spelling program and is flying through Level 2.

We are still on Level 1 for reading, but she is doing wonderful.  She has started to be interested in reading ON HER OWN TIME!! 




I do have to say that I believe wholeheartedly, that without Vision Therapy, none of this would be happening right now.  I asked her the other night if she remembered what books used to look like before we "fixed" her eyes.  She said, "Yep, it was all a big, black, wiggly blur.  There were never words."

Friday night Alli wanted to snuggle with me on the couch, which we often do.  But this time it was different.  For the first time in her entire life she said, 

"Do you want me to read you a story?"

Yes, my sweet child, PLEASE!!!!  She read us a Berenstein Bear story.  Shane was hanging on the couch and was BLOWN AWAY by the progress she has made.  I hear her read every day for school, but Shane had not heard her read a story like this ever.  How life has changed in such a short period of time!

Where she used to say, "Why is this so hard for me?"

Now she says, "I'm so good at this now!"

It is hard for me not to get teary-eyed.  This girl has worked so hard to get to where she is and she continues to push herself.  The difference now is that she enjoys it, and she knows she is doing well. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ONE YEAR LATER.....


Does anyone remember what Alli's writing and spelling looked like one year ago?  Below is a reminder...and just for scale, each letter below is about 1.5 inches high...(above, the spaces are about 1/4 of an inch!!)



Last Thursday, Alli had her 6 month post- Vision Therapy check up with Dr. Griffith.  It has been just about ONE YEAR since we found out that Alli wasn't reading because she could not use her eyes correctly. It has also been about 6 months since she FINISHED her vision therapy.  This appointment was to recheck a lot of the skills that were fixed by doing vision therapy and to make sure the skills are STICKING!!  This is a list of what was evaluated at this appointment:

  • Alli's ability to focus and change focus
  • Alli's ability to use her eyes together
  • Alli's ability to track correctly and the accuracy of her eye movements
  • Plus, Dr. Griffith wanted to do another evaluation using the Dyslexia screening that she used last March and then again in August.  
This is a summary of what was found - Six months since FINISHING vision therapy....

Alli has maintained her focusing abilities since she was last checked in August AND her focusing has even improved since that appointment in August.

Alli is still able to use her eyes together accurately and fluidly.

The eye movements test (Developmental Eye Movements) is the only test where she has not improved to the point of being in the "above average" range.  There are two parts to this test - One part is the speech output and the other is the visual speed.  Alli tested in the 48th percentile for a 9 year old (she was in 24th percentile at her first evaluation in March of last year).  I am happy with this improvement.  Considering where she was a year ago....this is amazing.  Dr. Griffith broke this test down for me in this way:

There are two skills being checked with this test.  One is speech output and the other is visual-perceptual speed.  Alli's speech output is still in the 1st percentile, while her visual perceptual speed is in the 83rd percentile.  The speech output is what is holding her back in this test.  I am not sure how this can be improved, but I will be researching it.....

And MOST exciting, once again....Alli is still NOT dyslexic....

Dr. Griffith administered the Dyslexia Screening again - the same one she gave Alli in March and August....here is the breakdown from each separate occasion:

In March 2013 (End of 1st grade) - 
  • Alli's reading level was so low, she could not even be given a level.  Her reading level was below PRE-SCHOOL.  
  • Could not go beyond the pre-school reading list.
  • She only knew the words GO and WAS on sight.  
  • Only knew 40% of the pre-school words when she was given extra time.
  • Could spell 30% of the pre-school words phonetically.
  • Labeled as having all 3 forms of dyslexia.

In August 2013 (We had done no school work so this was with JUST our vision therapy work) - 
  • Kindergarten reading level
  • Could identify 76% of the words up THROUGH the 3rd grade list
  • Could spell correctly 60% of the words through 3rd grade
  • No markers for dyslexia
In February 2014 (This year we have been working through 1st grade material) - 
  • First Grade reading level, YAY!!!!!!  She is finally at grade level!!!
  • Was able to read many words on the 3rd grade reading list and a few words on the 4th grade reading list, WOW!!!
  • 80% of the words at her reading level were spelled correctly.
  • 70% of the words through 4th grade spelled phonetically correct.
  • Now, instead of any DYSLEXIA, she is ranked at ABOVE NORMAL for her reading level.
Alli is working incredibly hard to catch up to where she needs to be. At this point, she is about one year behind (She SHOULD be about mid-second grade - but I don't live in a world of SHOULDS.....) so I am taking it slow to catch her up. Frustration does not help ANYONE, right??

Her reading is still slow and she doesn't jump up and down when I tell her it is time for her to read to me, but she is willing and able to read to me on a daily basis and that is all that matters.

When I think back to what we were going through a year ago, I am amazed at how far Alli has come.  Considering she has been able to see correctly for only about 8 months of her life, she is doing AMAZING!!!   

I think we will be working on her reading, spelling and math through our February break, Spring break and probably through summer so that she can catch up to where she needs to be.  The benefits of homeschooling....we can work at a pace where she feels SUCCESSFUL and not FRUSTRATED!!!  

So grateful for where this road has taken my little girl and hopeful that others will find their own paths to vision therapy and benefit as Alli has.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

STILL GRATEFUL EVERYDAY......


I was cleaning out our schoolroom today.  I had no idea this would be such an emotional chore for me.  The picture above is a concoction of the hundreds of games I developed over homeschooling Alli for 2 years, TRYING to help her to learn something, ANYTHING!! 

It makes me cry to think of how much she struggled before we knew she had a vision problem. 

For 2 years, I spent more time, money and tears trying to figure out THE THING that was going to make learning easier for her.   I honestly believed that one day a lightbulb would go off and she would remember the direction that 7 went and that the word MAT on one line was of COURSE the same as MAT on the next line.  I had no one to judge her against, she is my firstborn, and I was homeschooling her...she wasnt in a classroom with a teacher who would have labeled her "dyslexic" and I, obviously, was not willing to accept that it might be true...

Now that Jill is in 1st grade and learning to read I see how it should have been with Alli.  

When Alli was in 1st grade it took THE ENTIRE YEAR to learn the numbers 1 - 10.  11 and 12 were just too difficult.   Jill ALREADY knows the numbers to 100 without me really having taught her anything.  

When Alli ended 1st grade even simple sentences like "The cat is on the mat." would have brought her to tears.  Today, Jill read, "That is a seed.  See the ram eat it."

If Jill had been my first child, then maybe I would have been quicker to label Alli, "SLOW and DYSLEXIC".  But luckily, I did not know the difference.  I just always assumed Alli was on her own schedule and it would "click" when she was ready.  I gave her all the time she needed to learn what she was CAPABLE of learning.

Today, as I throw away all above games/crutches/bandaids I am so THANKFUL to myself that I was always patient with her.  She was doing the best she could, considering that books probably looked something like this to her:



Alli is FIXED.  She can learn just as easily as Jill does now.  She can SEE CORRECTLY.  She read to me for 10 minutes on the couch today, happily.  Her reading is slow and she still sounds lots of words out, but she has only been seeing correctly for 6 months of her school life....she is doing AMAZING!  Three cheers for Alli.

If you do not know Alli's story, please read this article I wrote when she completed Vision Therapy 6 months ago...

HER SYMPTOMS OF DYSLEXIA TURN OUT TO BE A VISION PROBLEM

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Color by numbers and writing letters

 I dont really feel the need to write much on this post.  I just wanted to share the beautiful color by number that Alli did in about an hour.  There were teeny tiny little numbers and lines she was able to do it all.  

Below is a letter to the tooth fairy....there is still LOTS of creative spelling and sounds that are missing or confused, but even the idea that she sat down and wrote this letter in about 10 minutes is WONDERFUL.  She is making progress and working hard.  She is so proud of herself.



Monday, November 11, 2013

The long awaited SURPRISE PARTY!!!



Head over to my Raising Cat and Bug Blog to read about the SURPRISE PARTY we threw for the girls for all their hard work during Alli's therapy.