Milo’s teacher asked us to take him for an “educational eye test”. The test does not assess the long or short sightedness of the eyes, nor astigmatism. It assesses how the brain directs the eyes and the way the brain interprets the information it receives.
At a young age, many children haven’t developed sufficient control over their focusing systems especially for close work. Some children can’t sustain sufficient focusing for an extended time period, so after a while print begins to blur. Others can’t make fast focusing shifts from one distance to another, e.g. from the board to their desks, so any time they look away everything is blurry. Others tend to over focus, causing eyestrain and headaches. The additional tension from over focusing make the eyes turn too far inward, causing double vision. Finally, close work places more stress on the visual system than distance viewing, which is translated into physical symptoms—back and neck tension; headaches; constriction of perceptual fields and a reduction of visual space; a tendency to develop nearsightedness and hence a tenancy to avoid reading.
[above is para-phrased from Children’s Vision Information Network]
Myles’ teachers observed his tenancy to avoid close work, get easily distracted; struggle with fine motor skills; avoid bi-lateral activities – i.e. moving his right arm across the left side of his body (and vice versa); poor concentration and poor work in general that did not match his apparent intellect and verbal capability.
In the past, we had wondered whether he was ADD. Fidgety, poor concentration, easily distracted, didn’t want to read or do work. I went to a web site and read the description of the symptoms of ADD. These are not all the symptoms…. however these bare an amazing resemblance
- Doesn’t pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
- Appears not to listen when spoken to
- Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
- Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
- Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items
Fortunately, we did not bolt down the ADD treatment path… and it makes me wonder how many other kids with similar issues have been mis-diagnosed?
From the diagnosis performed by the optometrist, Milo’s issues appear to be mostly “tracking“. You can see what this does to his reading from the link here.
Milo now has bi-focus glasses that he uses in the class room and when he is doing close work. This relieves the stress on his eyes and makes it “easier” for him to do close work for extended periods of time.
He is also doing a course of what I call physical therapy, to help make new – bi-lateral connections in his brain. It’s amazing the rate of progress we have seen on these very simple exercises.
Myles is also doing individual English tutoring at Numberworks, thanks to his class teacher from last year.
So – the verdict.
We kicked off all the activities at the start of the school year – and the improvement is noticeable already.
Milo’s handwriting has improved enormously. Better spacing between words. Better letter formation. When writing on blank paper, the sentences form straighter lines.
Milo’s spelling is also improving. I particularly noticed a massive improvement in his ability to recognise patterns when spelling.
And best of all, Myles’ confidence is improving too.
Would he have improved without the the physical therapy and tutoring? Maybe, maybe not – and that’s the question we will never have an answer to.
Are we happy we took the steps we did? Yes.