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Vision therapy strengthens reading

Mariah’s vision challenges were caught in a regular eye exam in 2011. Facing surgery, she met Dr. McCrodan.

Mariah’s vision challenges were caught in a regular eye exam in 2011. She was sent to a specialist who would test Mariah’s eyes and determine if eye surgery would be a good option. Mariah patched her strong eye for 1-2 hours a day and read in order to strengthen her weaker eye. Fortunately, after many months of patching Mariah had strengthened her eye enough that the specialist was able to say that surgery did not have to happen, but was still an option if we wanted. He also tested her depth perception and determined that her capacity she had now was all she would ever have. We purchased a computer program that was suggested for her and that was the end of our visits.

5 months later, in the fall of 2012, Mariah’s eye was stronger still and we went back for a regular eye appointment only to find out that with certain tests she was still missing so much. Fortunately, it was Dr. McCrodan who was the optometrist administering the tests to Mariah and he was able to provide us with vision therapy. When I had briefly researched Mariah’s eye condition on the internet, vision therapy was the recommended help but no one had suggested this option to us so I had dismissed it. We were keen to try anything that could offer improvement to Mariah’s vision.

Mariah began vision therapy at the end of November with Dr. McCrodan. His enthusiasm and hope for Mariah’s vision was very reassuring. He encouraged us to read: “Fixing my Gaze” by Sue Barry, which really helped us understand how Mariah’s vision and brain were functioning and how that can be improved. Some of the questions and tests Dr. McCrodan ran really brought our awareness to how much Mariah had struggled with seeing and yet had overcompensated and adjusted to still succeed enough by age 9!

Things she struggled with was her reading pace – she has a twin sister who was reading much faster than Mariah and she was confused by this and we learned that she skipped lines – this was normal to her and it also explained why she wouldn’t pick up more challenging or longer novels when her comprehension and auditory listening skills were at high levels. We also came to understand that Mariah’s depth perception was affecting her with things like cutting with scissors, knitting, or skating which we had not realized were affected by her vision.

After only 12 weeks Mariah’s eyes have already had huge improvements! She is reading thicker, longer novels and enjoying them. She looked at the 3D bookmarks in the store the other day and saw how they were 3D. She can track a letter chart while jumping on a trampoline and she can skip lines! I know that might sound odd, but I am watching her do things that really challenging and after few weeks of practicing Mariah’s brain is trained and ready to take on more challenging activities. I continue to be surprised and impressed with how she is progressing.

Dr. McCrodan is fantastic with Mariah. In our weekly visits he is really encouraging with Mariah, providing her with lots of positive feedback and challenging her when she is ready. He has been empathetic and supportive to both Mariah and us as parents and he explains the process and progress in a clear and easy to understand way. He is extremely knowledgeable and comfortable in working with and setting up a program of therapy and many of the activities Mariah practices are fun and creative.