ALEXANDRA’S STORY (as told by Alexandra)
As a child, I tended to see things differently, and I don’t mean from a different point of view. I just couldn’t “see.” I was a bright kid, though, and didn’t have any of your normal learning disabilities. I went from Pre-K all the way to third grade with flying colors and was often complimented by my teachers for being a smart little girl.
Then I started having to read the board. I had never had a problem with reading. In fact, I was a little bookworm from the time I began to piece sentences together. But the board was different. It was far away. I couldn’t see the board. The first reaction to my inability to “see” was to take me to have my eyes checked by both a regular eye doctor and an eye doctor who specialized in pediatrics. They could find nothing wrong with my eyes. I had 20/20 vision. But I still couldn’t see.
As I grew up, school got harder and so did my ability to focus in class and while I was doing my homework. No one, including me, could understand why. I was still very smart for my age and learning came easily to me. I would space out during class without warning. At home, I would find myself reading the same line on a page over and over again unintentionally. I would come home from school exhausted and unable to put my full effort into my homework. It was so frustrating. Teachers would ask me, “Why aren’t you trying?” I was trying. It made me so upset that people just couldn’t understand me. I wanted so very badly for them to see that I just couldn’t see.
I can’t see.
It finally hit me when I was seventeen years old. Why can’t I see? I couldn’t focus my eyes properly. I am an avid horseback rider, but I always feared jumping because I couldn’t judge the distance and height of the fences. I finally described this to my eye doctor and she immediately suggested vision therapy.
I came to the Vision Center very skeptical. So far, it seemed to me that no one could understand what I was going through. I am very happy to say that I was wrong.
As soon as I described my symptoms and did the initial evaluation, Dr. Seiderman explained that my eyes weren’t working properly together and were making it difficult to bring things at a distance into focus. What struck me was how they took everything I said into consideration and then some. Instead of just asking about my eyes, they asked about how I was doing in school and whether or not reading for extended periods of time was difficult.
Everything fell into place. My difficulty in school and my fear in horseback riding were not my fault. I was just living with eyes that worked great on their own, but not so great together. It was such a relief to finally have someone who believed me when I said I couldn’t see and told me that it could be fixed.
The best part of fixing my eyes was the fact that it was both fun and challenging.
I would come in once a week after school and one of the wonderful ladies in the therapy room would start me on an activity. These activities ranged from puzzles to mind games and everything in between. It was so easy to forget that I had a problem with my eyes when the things I was doing were also intellectually challenging. They would even adjust the difficulty of an activity so that the challenge was appropriate for my age and abilities.
It was only after about a month of therapy that I began to notice a difference. I was more focused in class and wasn’t spacing out as much. Homework before bed was easier and I could get it done faster and more efficiently. By the end of the first semester, it was obvious that Vision Therapy was having a tremendous impact on me. I ended the semester with the highest grades I had received since way back in middle school.
The activities at the center got harder, but each new challenge helped me overcome the difficulty I had in focusing my eyes. Each evaluation showed that I was improving. By the end of the year, I had mostly overcome my focusing problems. It was such a positive experience. Yes, I had days where my eyes were incredibly tired and I had a headache from eyestrain at school, but they gradually became fewer and further between.
As my time at the Vision Center came to an end, I realized just how much I had improved over the year I had spent there. I no longer spaced out in class and homework was not as much of a chore as it had been. I could judge distance and height and could get on a horse with renewed confidence. I could even see further into the distance than I had ever been able to do before, picking out objects on the horizon that would have been impossible for me to bring into focus just one year previously. I have even stopped wearing my glasses when I use the computer.
If anyone asks me if they should consider Vision Therapy, I would give them a hearty yes. My vision affected so many things in my life that I didn’t even realize were being affected. Being able to focus my eyes is like seeing a whole new world. If I could go back and tell my small self-one thing, it would be, “I know you can’t see, and there is a way to help you.”
Hello Dr. Seiderman,
Hope your Summer is going well. I wanted to share some great news about Paulina! In art class, she produced replicas of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Sunflowers. The teacher was so impressed with the work that she nominated Paulina for a scholarship and she won!!! So, this Summer Paulina is attending the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. Amazing! A second grader in college!!!!! I am attaching pictures of the artwork which earned her the award. On behalf of Paulina and the rest of our family we want to thank you for your intervention with Paulina.
Now that her eyes are working together life is just delightful!!
My name is Suzanne Sherman Horton and I am the mother to a now 8 y.o. boy, Riley. Riley was under the care of the Vision Development Center for around 9 months, beginning in the spring of 2009 and carrying through to around the new year. My own mother, who is a retired reading specialist, heard of the seminars put on by Dr. Seiderman and decided to head out to one to attain some information, hoping that it might be beneficial for my then 7y.o. son. My mother was so enlightened by the information that was provided that she insisted that Riley be evaluated.
I was quite reluctant at first, thinking that the traditional path that I was providing for my son was enough to bridge his learning gap between he and his peers. Looking back at this, I am not sure why I hesitated, knowing that the prior three years of Riley’s education had been not only frustrating for both of us in different ways, but also one in which was stagnant – not really changing. The school psychologist, teacher, and guidance counselor all found that he was borderline in all testing that was performed, from ADD to reading levels.
Therefore, he received no extra help within the educational system and I continued to seek outside assistance through private occupational therapy, tutoring of math and reading, and summer courses. This only resulted in the continued evenings of blood, sweat, and tears as we would sit at the kitchen table together attempting to make sense of what Riley “saw” on paper.
To speak with Riley, one would say that he is quite bright – holding adult conversations, using high level vocabulary, comprehending the information, and responding in an appropriate and well thought out way. BUT, when information WAS presented to him on paper, frustration set in with the inability to comprehend.
I cannot explain the difference with Riley since going through the wonderful Vision Therapy program that these professionals offer. The expertise, words of wisdom, patience, and love that they show to EVERY child is simply amazing! They are able to meet every child’s needs by looking at them holistically.
Because Riley’s visual needs were not as great as many other children and adults that attended Vision Therapy, his progress at first was quite slow. But then midway through the program, it was quite noticeable how much his vision was playing a role in his learning because as his vision improved, so did his functional outcomes with regard to reading and math. The therapists were able to “think out of the box” and in addition to his vision homework, would provide strategies that Riley could use both at school and at home when completing homework or learning new concepts that were introduced in school.
Riley is now reading on his own which is simply amazing and is just beginning to be able to complete math homework and reading comprehension questions independently without assistance from his teacher. This is a huge accomplishment for Riley!
He has more self-confidence and actually wants to read! I cannot express how excited I am for Riley and the possibilities that can now occur.
I am not as fearful for next year when he enters into third grade and has to READ to LEARN now that he continues to learn to read. I am grateful for the vision therapy that Riley has received and know that had it not been for this program, he would be in status quo, frustrated, and have very low self-esteem. Now he is his old happy, enthusiastic self – RILEY! I thank the entire staff at the Vision Development Center.
My husband and I notice an issue with our first child when she couldn’t concentrate for long periods of time and was struggling with reading. We were lucky to have a family member have a child go through treatment with Dr. Seiderman and his staff. We made an appointment and found that Mckayla would benefit from vision therapy.
We are now three years out from her graduating and she is now in the regular reading class and is an A/B student. She is doing a great job.
Now, when we saw a more severe issues with our son we knew what we needed to do.
We are one year out from him graduating from vision therapy. Wow what a difference.
He still doesn’t like to read, because he would rather be playing. However he can concentrate and get through a whole book. Kyle is now almost reading on grade level. He has come so far. Just yesterday he pick up a book and read to his little cousin. This is something he would never have done before. It wasn’t choppy at all. He only got stuck on one word.
We are so proud of our kids and what they have accomplished. Thank you Dr. Seiderman and your wonderful staff for all your help.
Lance and Dawn Baker
My son, Timothy, recently graduated from vision therapy with Dr. Seiderman at the Vision Development Center, and I can thankfully attest to the success that Timothy has seen.
From early childhood, Timothy seemed to be slower than his peers at learning new things. While it was navigating sliding boards and new playground equipment, I credited him with being a cautious child. But as we moved towards preschool years, greater academics, and sports, I realized that there was a problem somewhere. In preschool, Timothy had an extremely difficult time learning to recognize and print his letters, numbers, and name. Still giving him the benefit of the doubt, I attributed it to his young age. Timothy has a summer birthday, and I assumed that he merely wasn’t ready to begin kindergarten. At the age of five, I enrolled him in an advanced pre-k program. The curriculum there ran a watered down kindergarten curriculum, and it did a nice job at preparing him for the kindergarten year. At six, he entered kindergarten. He did fairly well. He was able to recognize most of his letters, but he had a difficult time differentiating similar letters like: lower case b, d, p, and the numbers 6 and 9. He would frequently print and read one for the other. Needless to say, by first grade, our troubles escalated.
Timothy had an extremely difficult time learning to read and write. He misread words, had trouble decoding words, frequently lost his place, and skipped words and lines. I couldn’t begin to imagine why reading was so difficult for him. Being an elementary educator myself, I had always immersed him in books and reading, and he had such strength in phonics. His sister, who was younger by two years, was beginning to exceed his reading ability. His writing was also weak, and even after editing and revising his work with a teacher’s aid, he was unable to copy it correctly. Homework was taking us an excessive amount of time to complete. Something was definitely wrong.
Timothy began after school remediation and the IST process. By second grade, he had an IEP, and was enrolled in the learning support program. In the meanwhile, my husband and I were grasping at straws to discover why such a bright child was having such difficulty with reading and writing. His psych evaluation proved that he had a high IQ, but by the end of second grade, he was below proficient in every subject.
I began to look at the whole child. I asked myself, is it environmental? Is it diet related? Is there an attention issue? Is it something physical or emotional? I spoke with his pediatrician, the school psychologist, the IST teacher, other parents, and finally Timothy’s eye doctor.
As an observer of his regular eye exam, I have no idea how his doctor could tell that he was not in need of corrective lenses. At the age of eight, Timothy was misreading letters, skipping lines, and reversing lines. It was at this point that Timothy was recommended to have a screening for vision therapy, and his results concluded that he was definitely a candidate for this type of therapy.
In the meanwhile, I looked at how far behind Timothy was in his academic career, and I decided that he could greatly benefit from the one-on-one environment of a home or cyber school setting. After much investigating I enrolled him in Commonwealth Connections Academy’s Cyber School.
It was through CCA that I met Dr. Seiderman, and I cannot thank him and his staff enough for the impact that he has had on my son’s life.
Timothy was to be in third grade when he began CCA last school year; however, his reading level was that of a beginning second grader. He began weekly therapy sessions, and he graduated from vision therapy this past November. Since his graduation, Timothy is a whole new child. He has shown mastery of his old second grade reading goal, and he is currently working to show consistent mastery of a third grade reading goal. More importantly, on his most recent benchmark, for fourth grade (his true grade level), Timothy actually scored above average and advanced for reading comprehension! He has never achieved levels like this. When he and his sister complete their school work, Timothy now enjoys reading aloud from his text books, and he is able to independently read books for enjoyment for the first time in his life. His writing and spelling has improved, and he is retaining the difference between those look-alike letters. He is able to rewrite his final copy from his rough draft with efficiency and accuracy. His grades finally reflect the effort that he puts forth to his schooling.
Vision therapy has benefited many extra curricular activities that I did not recognize as being a problem. This is Timothy’s fourth year of playing basketball. In three years, he never scored a basket during a game. This year, he scored during his first game of the season. He is able to get rebounds, catch passes, and play more aggressively. Vision therapy has helped him with woodworking, crafts, and so much more.
In conclusion, vision therapy has opened up a world of possibility for my son.
It was a definite commitment. Our family had to drive one and a half hours one way to attend therapy each week, but I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance. Who would have known that such a simple thing could make such a dynamic change in a life. All of the signs were there, but I had no idea that Timothy’s eyes were not working as a team, or that he had double vision. I always attributed his problems to his personal character or other things. I am so grateful to Dr. Seiderman and his team. He has given him the ability to be successful in school, extra curricular activities and to achieve his dreams. From the bottom of my heart, and with much gratitude from Timothy, I thank him, and encourage any of you questioning whether or not you or your child could benefit from vision therapy to have an evaluation. It could be a life changing exam.
Melissa Henry – York, PA
Before vision therapy RJ complained of headaches almost every day. He did not follow directions or stay on task and was inattentive in school. He loved to be read to, but did not like to read.
Since he completed vision therapy, RJ has advanced to his classroom reading group. He now enjoys reading aloud to me, doing crossword puzzles and mazes. He has made great strides in playing baseball and his ability to play the piano has improved due to his being able to read the notes and memorize the music.
He no longer complains of headaches nor does he have double vision any longer. Vision Therapy was the answer to our prayers. Thank you
Stephanie was easily frustrated and was having great difficulty in reading. Although she did well with comprehension she did have problems concentrating on the task. Stephanie was excited to begin school but very quickly became very unhappy and felt she could not do the work.
Stephanie has completed two programs of Vision Therapy and we’ve noticed her as having fewer headaches, better concentration, and she is more comfortable to attempt reading by herself. She has improved greatly on the soccer field.
We are very happy with progress Stephanie has made so far.