Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mason - Visual Processing Update

*** DISCLAIMER ***
I have been back and forth about how much of Mason's vision issues to share here on my blog and after a lot of thought and prayer I've decided to share his/our experience in the hope that it provides information and/or encouragement for parents and kids who may be experiencing similar symptoms/indicators as Mason.  This post is going to be SUPER detailed because I feel like it's important for y'all to know what led us to having him evaluated.  THERE IS NO SHAME in seeking assistance and professional opinions when you feel like something may be going on with your child and NO SHAME involved in receiving therapy or treatment.  When Luke started speech we made a point to never have a negative connotation when talking about it to him or with others and we're doing the same thing with Mason.  His friends and classmates know that he'll be receiving vision therapy and he's nothing but excited to improve his reading fluency (mainly because he can't wait to get his hands on his brother's Captain Underpants books).

I am in NO WAY an authority of any kind on visual processing and while I am more than happy to answer any of your questions to the best of my ability, if you have questions about your child's vision my suggestion would be to reach out to a developmental optometrist in your area.




Last year in Kindergarten Mason STRUGGLED with sight words.  I reached out on instagram for ideas of how to help him and was overwhelmed with the response.  I blogged some of the ideas people shared for working with him in a post  HERE and while we made progress he had to work so incredibly hard and the progress was slow.  We jumped on cards, wrote them in shaving cream, had cards on our fridge that we touched and read every time we walked out the door, etc.  The problem was that Mason couldn't seem to remember them by sight... he would sound the words out every. single. time.  It got to the point near the end of the year where just pulling out that red box of cards brought him to tears.  We worked over the summer and his phonetic skills were awesome (his ability to sound words out), but he would sound out every word every time.  So for example, he'd read "Jack played ball" on one page and then "Jack ran home" on the next and have to sound out Jack both times (what?!?!).

We got him tutoring over the summer to hopefully boost his confidence in reading a bit before getting back in the classroom - Mason is his own worst critic and will resist participating or starting if he thinks that he's not going to do well and the tutor made strides with him but noticed some of the same things we had earlier in the year.

First grade started and he hung in there and at our conference in November his teacher pointed out a few things that she had noticed that were concerning - he often covered one of his eyes while he was reading (like he'd rest his head on his hand and cover it), he rubbed his eyes constantly (which we knew but had always attributed to allergies), was still reversing letters (which was still considered age appropriate, but combined with other things because more of a concern), and skipped words as he read.  She found the same things we had earlier - that he was sounding words out instead of recognizing them by sight and seemed unable to recognize the same word on different lines or pages.


Here's Mason doing his typical "eye covering" while drawing on my tablet after school

She gave me some information on visual processing testing and Dave and I went home to process ourselves ;)  We read through the information, did some research online and, armed with the pertinent information, started making note of some of the indicators/symptoms that previously we had no idea were indicators of anything.  I mentioned the concerns to my friend who's an occupational therapist and she went ahead and pulled him from class and evaluated him in December.  She noticed a lot of the same things us and his teacher had noticed and made note of a lack of bilateral coordination as well (he had some difficulties doing tasks that required using both sides of his body simultaneously).

The biggest "a-ha" moment we had was during his OT evaluation... she noticed him doing the eye covering thing and stopped to ask him why he was covering up his eye and he literally told her, "oh, because my eye wiggles when I'm trying to read and this helps it stop wiggling'.

Insert that wide eyed emoji here.

The OT wrote up her formal report and recommended that we have him seen by a developmental optometrist (Shoutout to Jessica for taking such good care of my boy!!!) and after a couple of inquiries and recommendations we ended up having him evaluated.  

He had an in-depth eye exam that included a sensorimotor exam as well as perceptual testing.  Basically they looked not only at eye health and function but also eye tracking, focusing, eye teaming ability and binocular depth perception.  They also evaluated how well Mason uses his visual system and handles visual stress and also determined how the visual system processes information including how it integrates with the other senses.  The first part of the exam took about an hour and a half and was with the developmental optometrist and the second part was with a vision therapist.  At the end of that appointment we set a date for the next week when I went back and had a conference with the optometrist to go over all of her findings.


When we met, she reported the following from his sensorimotor eye exam....

Mason is farsighted (he has trouble seeing things that are near) and he received a prescription for glasses to wear while reading, playing on his iPad, writing or doing any other near work.  

She also confirmed some oculomotor dysfunction meaning that he has difficulty coordinating eye movement which results in him losing his place when he reads, skipping or omitting words and affects his reading fluency.  

He was diagnosed with an accommodative insufficiency means that he has difficulty stimulating his vision at near causing him to blink, rub his eyes and look away when he's working.  (this would also explain why Mason has dozens of nurse reports over the last 2.5 years for eye drops because his eyes were hurting - which, again, we thought was allergy-related)

And last, he also has binocular dysfunction meaning that he has difficulty teaming his eyes together causing words to bounce or move and requiring Mason to use a TON of effort to take in and process visual information (which is probably why working on sight words and reading seemed to be so taxing and exhausting for him).

The visual processing evaluation revealed that...

Mason struggles with the ability to discriminate dominant features of objects like discriminating position/orientation, form/shape, etc and that involves his ability to perceive words.

His visual memory is lacking meaning that  he has a hard time recalling visually presented material.  This can result in difficulty recognizing the same word on the next page (HELLO, SIGHT WORDS!)

He struggles with visual form constancy which means that he has difficulty recognizing a word he knows when it's written in a different form, font, color, etc.

SO WHAT DOES IT ALL EVEN MEAN?!?! :)

Mason will be starting vision therapy ASAP - it will be an individualized 10-session program written by his developmental optometrist and administered by a vision therapist and after the 10 sessions he'll be reevaluated and the next 10-sessions will be written.  The plan for the therapy is to focus on peripheral awareness, improve his reading ability and visual comfort, equalize the focusing and tracking of each eye, improve his bilateral integration and visually directed fine motor skills, complete exercises to improve his sequential and directional concepts and improve his visual memory.

He's currently on the waiting list for an after school therapy time and we're hopeful that will be next month or so.  He'll meet with a vision therapist once a week for 50 minutes and then have exercises/materials to work on/through at home.  In the classroom his teacher is helping by letting him sit square to the board and as close as possible (so that his eyes don't have to "shift" from far to near as dramatically), encouraging him to use blank paper to cover up parts of the paper he's not working on (reducing peripheral stimuli) and encouraging him to use his finger in following along while reading. 

Mason got his glasses earlier this week and y'all - he looks SO CUTE!  He says they help words look clearer, but so far we haven't had enough time working with him to notice a difference on our end.  I think the real test will be in his visual stamina - he usually gets tired of reading fairly quickly and we're hoping that the glasses will help take some of the strain off his eyes and allow him to focus for longer periods of time.  As with any therapy, the timeline is an estimate (we're super familiar with this because of Luke's speech therapy) and there are a ton of factors that we know will contribute to the duration of his treatment.  I've spoken with several other parents of kids who have been through vision therapy and said that they saw a HUGE improvement in their child's reading ability and fluency and we are so excited to see Mason grow as he receives the therapy that he needs for his eyes and brain to work together to the best of their ability.


If you made it to the end of this post CONGRATS - I'm barely hanging on and he's my kid :)  If you have any questions PLEASE don't hesitate to ask and I'll answer to the best of my ability.

Happy Thursday, friends!

59 comments :

  1. I mean. He’s so stinking cute already but those glasses!!! So thankful you guys got answers and cannot wait to see how well he does!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm an OT and in 2nd grade my son went through vision therapy. Your Mason sounds alot like him...just kinda uncoordinated, slow to pick a dominant hand, slow to learn to tie his shoes, turned his head (to eliminate one eye) when he was trying to focus. The vision therapy helped with his eye teaming. We also did some reflex reintegration exercises to help with the coordination. From one mom to another, just want to whisper in your ear that many of the signs you listed are also red flags for dyslexia. It is common for kids to have both oculomotor dysfunctional and dyslexia- it was true for my son. He's not self-conscious about it though. He knows that many of the great creatives had dyslexia. Good luck to you guys as you navigate what's best for Mason!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a reading interventionist and dyslexia advocate, I too wouldn't dismiss the dyslexia aspect. Thank you for posting because I have some students who also are displaying similar eye issues.

      Delete
    2. As a Reading Interventionist, I also encourage looking in to dyslexia. 1 in 5 students are dyslexic and it is not evaluated in school. You are helping so many by bringing light to the eye issues.

      Delete
  3. Oh my gosh! I just love that kid so much!! You are doing such a good job, mama!! I know you are. xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know your family must be relieved to have a diagnosis and start moving forward. It's always easier to explain symptoms in retrospect...hind sight is 20/20. We had a health situation with my son several years ago, and I couldn't believe we had missed the signs for over a year, explaining them away with "he's tired" etc. have a terrific Thursday.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Way to be an advocate for your boy! It is so hard to pinpoint the cause of the struggle, but once you identify it, improvement happens. My son's vision issues aren't as complex, but oh my, did he flourish once we got to the root cause and got him the help he needed. He is a 1st grader too and I can't tell you the difference we have seen since Kindergarten. We would both be in tears over reading and sight words by the end of the year. 1st grade has been a totally different experience in the best possible way. Praying for an appointment to become available and that God's hands bless this therapy path.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good for you for going that long extra mile to help your son. We have to be our children's biggest advocate!! I think it's great you shared all that with your readers!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Also....in case no one mentioned it yet, when they are this little their Rx can change frequently, like every time they have a growth spurt kind of frequent. So don't be afraid to ask for a recheck if you notice changes. I noticed some of my son's signs creeping back and after confirming a few things with his teacher I asked for a recheck and sure enough his reading perscription had changed. It had only been 5 months. We started a special saving account for new lenses. Little dudes aren't cheap, but they are wortg it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes we have had lots of prescription changes :) too!!!

      Delete
  8. He looks adorable. Kudos to you, his teacher, and other therapists for putting together all of the "random" things and realizing there was something bigger going on. Thank God for experts in this field! Praying you start to see changes and reading becomes easier for him.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Andrea - thanks so much for sharing something so personal and real! Mason is so blessed to have you guys as parents and be around caring teachers. As a mom to an almost 2 year old, I'm realizing more and more how kids are growing at their own pace, to not compare them to others and not blame/ding them when they struggle with something/not exactly what I expected. Kids are who they are, and we get to love them as-is, with all their uniqueness.

    No one judges when a short person (me!) needs help getting something from a tall shelf... so no one should judge someone else who needs help a different way. Hopefully the visual therapy will help provide some tools that will act as the "chair" for Mason :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're such a great mom! Thank you for this post!! I have a kindergartener and some of this is looking very familiar. I will pay more attention to some of his "habits"...so thank you, again, for this post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. oh sweet momma, the more I get to know you the more we have in common. My son, Solon, who is 8 was born with an eye condition. We have spent years patching and working through it all. It breaks my heart because reading comes difficult to him too and I just sent him out the door with his dad for his 6 month check-up and I am praying that he doesn't have to withstand more. This week Vera was diagnosed with a slightly less severe version of what he has and although I know more, it still broke my heart. She of course is pumped about the glasses. Praying for you! xoxo ERIN

    ReplyDelete
  12. Bless his sweet heart! So glad you guys have gotten some answers. He looks precious.

    ReplyDelete
  13. First, my goodness, Mason looks absolutely adorable in those glasses! And second, I never knew such a thing existed. Thank you for sharing your (Masons) story. I know it was a hard decision to share such personal stuff, but I also think you will help lots of people with your openness and honesty!

    ReplyDelete
  14. My oldest was diagnosed with ocularmotor dysfunction when he was about Mason's age. He had all of those same symptoms. We did 32 sessions of VT with a couple of progress check-ups in between and it made an enormous difference! I had worked as a Vision Therapist for a couple of years prior to having children so I knew the red flags. My only advice would be to make sure you do the exercises a few times a week (our regiment included doing all exercises patched--one eye at a time for the first 16 sessions). The more practice the more routine it becomes for the child and the faster those eye muscles strengthen. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for sharing these details! My kids are still babies but it’s helpful to know symptoms to watch for :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think my 12 year old son has some of these same symptoms. He likes being read to (we homeschool), but doesn't like reading himself. Handwriting is also difficult. He has been in O.T. for awhile, but this has given me more to consider. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for sharing this, I am a PreK Special Needs teacher and this is something to keep in mind when working with my students.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello from the other side! My son experienced similar issues and ended up in vision therapy. He's nineteen now, attending college and just made the Dean's list. I know, with 100% certainty, that he would not have been as successful as he was throughout elementary and high school had we not accessed that therapy. So, hang in there! PS. Some of my favorite pictures of him during that time were taken when he was sporting his eye patch.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for the transparency to share what Mason is going through. You’re absolutely right that there is NO shame! And praise God that we live in a time with so much medical knowledge and corrective abilities!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Mason could not look cuter with those glasses! Thankful that you have found some answers and can now move forward. I think waiting is the hardest part in these situations. Two of my grandsons go to vision therapy, for different reasons than Mason, but it's not a big deal to them or us. It's just what they do. Praying for good results for your boy.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is an awesome post! I am a developmental optometrist, and helping kiddos like Mason is why I absolutely love my job. I’m so glad your OT was so observant, and that you found a great doctor. I hope Mason does so well and I hope you keep us updated!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for your open & honest post! You never know who might be reading and have that a-ha moment about their own child. Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  23. You and your hubby are incredible parents!! What a lot of information to take in and you handle it so beautifully, proactively, and calmly. I will pray Mason feels progress soon so he feels confident and good during all of this!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for sharing....always good to know what to look for with our kids. I would have dismissed these symptoms to allergies, tiredness, etc... As a mom, you just never know what you might encounter, but sharing info like this is so helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I love that you shared something so personal. Eye opening for so many other parents! I am 24 and my boyfriend wears full time glasses and went through not the same but similar struggles as a little boy. I have a special place in my heart for boys with adorable black frames ♥️♥️ So happy for Mason that things will be better and hopefully easier for him!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you for sharing what I know must be a hard thing to share. Glad you got some answers!

    ReplyDelete
  27. You guys are such good parents, Mason is lucky to have you advocating for him. And thank you for sharing this, I had no idea something like this was even possible so this helps me keep my eyes open for when my daughter starts school.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I really admire your honesty and willingness to be open about this - and details to so that others can read and perhaps see similarities in their own cases. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you for sharing this information with us. Mason is going to shine even brighter. My son went through vision therapy at his age, he is now a freshman in college studying pre-med.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you for your honesty! We went through tons of testing with our youngest, including visual perception - therapy has provided slow but steady progress. Hang in there and I can't wait for more pics of that handsome dude with glasses!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh my goodness! How is it possible that he looks even CUTER with those glasses on?!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Andrea, my daughter is in Kindergarten this year and has been having some similar issues with her sight words/reading so thank you for sharing this. I think we may look into this for her. You are an awesome mom and I always love reading your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm thankful you got answers and I can imagine the relief you both feel to be making progress. I agree he's always been cute but those glasses are adorable :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. You'll touch thousands of lives with this post. Teaching sight words to my Kinder and first grader this year was hard enough... it was shocking to me that most of us learned to read with phonics and they teach them SO different now. Grandparents are like WTH is a sight word?!

    ReplyDelete
  35. You've got this- and he is so stinking cute rocking his glasses.

    ReplyDelete
  36. My son has battled vision issues since he was 4 years old! Great job Mom and I know Mason will do great things!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you for sharing such detail about a personal subject! I know you will reach a lot of people by sharing Mason's story. My son (3rd grade) is struggling with anxiety/learning difficulties this year and I am constantly on the lookout for ways to help him. I commend you for being an advocate for your son! Mason looks absolutely adorable in his glasses. I know it's uncomfortable to put yourself out there but nothing irritates me more than bloggers who post about something important and then give vague details. So, THANK YOU for sharing and being real!!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thank you for sharing. Interesting information. Mason is so cute in his glasses.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I was diagnosed with visual processing issues in 3rd or 4th grade after I would spell words correctly on 1 page and flip it over and spell them incorrectly. I went through visual therapy as well! The best thing for me when I advanced in school was putting my tests (especially math and science) on legal paper or spacing it out more so that I had extra space to complete and show my work. Allowing me to have that extra space meant I wasn’t trying to squish everything in and I could transfer answers better! Just FYI for the future!

    ReplyDelete
  40. My Brother had issues with headaches while reading while in college (which you know they do a lot of reading in college, and he had to have a friend read to him). My parents took him to many different eye doctors who all played guessing games so ended up with five new pairs of glasses, contact lenses etc. Then he found someone who does vision therapy where he went for a while and it didn't really help. He had an issue with both eyes focusing together and then found out about this therapy place 2.5 hours away where he went weekly and had daily homework which finally helped.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I love your honesty! I never knew any of those things could even be a problem for kids, so it's nice to know in case either of our babies ever has any issues. And he really does look stinking cute in his glasses!

    ReplyDelete
  42. I love how open and honest you are! I look forward to reading your blog every day. As a fellow working mom, I feel like I can relate to you so much. I am inspired by many of your stories and creative ideas. Hang in there girl! You are doing a great job!!😍

    ReplyDelete
  43. He’s such a cutie pie!! Praying for y’all during this journey. You’re an amazing mama!!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Wow! What a lot of information for y'all to have to process! I'm so glad that adorable boy will be getting some relief and reading will become much easier for him. Praying that the therapy starts soon and will provide positive results. I know from some of my own issues with balance, when you find a reason/cause for the problem and start to work on correcting it, it's almost like a new world opens. Thanks for your transparency and please keep us posted on Mason's progress.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm so glad you did the post. No doubt it will help lots of people. And Mason has never looked cuter!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Wow wow wow! This is my life exactly! We did educational testing after 1st grade and have a dyslexia diagnosis, which was huge in terms of knowing how to help my son. After a major stall at the beginning of 4th grade (this year) and a few meltdowns (my son's and my own) we were blessed with a kind eye doctor who immediately identified major vision issues and sent us to a vision therapist. Hang in there, mama. It is slow going, but I am so thankful to have some pieces to the puzzle to help my boy!

    ReplyDelete
  47. You are awesome! So glad you were able to figure out what is going on and how to help him.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Mason looks so handsome in glasses! I am so proud of you for sharing this with your readers! When my daughter was in kindergarten, she was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder-I had never heard of it, and didn't know of anyone else who had a child with it, so felt very adrift! You will never know how many lives you will touch by being so transparent! I'm so glad that Mason is getting the help he needs, and will pray for good results!

    ReplyDelete
  49. What an awesome and informative post! Our son (now 41 years old) had a reading/visual perception issue and once it was addressed, it changed everything. Good for you for being agressive for your little guy. It will make all the difference in his precious life. Blessings abundant!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thanks for sharing such an informative post. I was not aware of any of this and I am an early years teacher who has observed students with similar struggles as Mason. This has provided me with such great insight and now, with this information I can move forward in the process of helping these kiddos get an accurate diagnosis. You are helping many of us Andrea and I sincerely thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  51. My granddaughter was bumping into things at home and school. Her first grade teacher brought it to my son's attention. She has a depth perception eye problem. She was given an eye patch to strength her bad eye and glasses and went for vision therapy. One eye is perfect vision and the other eye has a strong prescription. We had a 504 written for her so that her worksheets can be enlarged. Make sure he has a 504 and accommodations specifically written for his eye issues. My granddaughter is in high school and doing great. I wish your young man only the best. He is adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Your son sounds so much like my sweet boy!! We were about to make an appointment for a Neuro-Vision Eval in Plano. Do you have a doctor you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thank you for sharing about this. I had no idea this was a thing. Then we heard one of our friends' child has reading issues and we forwarded your blog to her. They took their child to a developmental optometrist and same issues as your son!

    ReplyDelete
  54. What sweet encouragement. We moms on the other side need to show these sweet mammas all the love just like you did.

    ReplyDelete

Blog design by Get Polished | Copyright 2016