Scott ended K-5 and First Grade as an Honor Student and enjoyed school so we looked forward to continued success. Second grade, however, began with 30 min. homework assignments that took Scott two (pain-staking, supervised) hours to complete. He would yawn, complain of headaches, of being tired (although he had adequate sleep), and evidenced excessive tearing and rubbing of eyes. Any assignment that required handwriting was a bear.
Scott was placed in the slowest reading group so we took the initiative of doing Hooked on Phonics at home. He could not ride a bike, feared heights and open staircases and this did not change with the mid-year operation for placement of his third set of ear tubes. Headaches increased to nausea and vomiting at school. Language Arts grades were dropping by letter grades. He was privately tested and found to be at grade level in reading and comprehension. We paid for a reading tutor twice a week from the former 2nd grade teacher who worked well with Scott. Scott had a good grasp on phonics but read slowly, re-read words or lines, substituted words, skipped words, and failed to recognize the same word in the next sentence or just learned in spelling.
Before year end he sensed that he was considered "stupid" in the classroom and began to label himself as such. Insecurity increased as well as lowered self-esteem. Comments included: easily distracted, working below his potential, and loses focus. Outside of the classroom, Scott was viewed as possessing an excellent vocabulary, articulate, and well-versed. We determined this was a medical problem we could not define sufficiently to present to the pediatrician.
Scott had become an auditory learner and read extensively via audio books. The only hardbacks he would consider were picture books-visual dictionaries and encyclopedias, The Picture Bible, etc.
At the close of second grade we had him privately tested by another source for reading level and comprehension. They assessed: "Reading is a lot of work for him and he has to invest a lot of time and energy into his reading to read well. Given enough time, the desire to please, and feel unpressured, the tests showed he could read at a 3.5 grade level."
Over the summer we continued Hooked on Phonics and enrolled him in the Clemson University Reading Program. There was no increase in reading speed or stamina. His sinus' were flushed, adenoids and tonsils removed, and a new bike purchased. No changes. Facing third grade with lowered self-esteem and no closer to self-diagnosis, we opted to co-teach him at home through the K-12 Public Charter School. Through sustained one-on-one time with Scott we learned that during class time he constantly fidgeted and bumped, had a short attention span, and was easily distracted. He could not talk and conduct a task at the same time. He could not remember the shapes of the alphabet letters, struggled with reciting the alphabet, reversed b/d, was/saw, confused similar looking words like could/would, and lost his place even when alternately reading single lines of text. Handwriting tasks continued to be a bear. He was frustrated to tears and vented this on others. His reading stamina was an agonizing 2 minutes with numerous errors.
In November we saw an advertisement in the Lowcountry Parent Magazine by Draisin Vision Group explaining vision problems and we could answer "yes" to nearly every symptom listed. They conducted a developmental eye examination and found Scott had vision problems that affected both his academics and behavior. They aided us in receiving a 504 Accommodation at school, which brought peace to the classroom. After 6 months of therapy, Scott no longer objects to be asked to read. He continues to read slowly, but is relaxed, non-symptomatic and has a reading stamina of over 10 min. with 5 errors. He has improved in all areas. Headaches are rare. At 9 1/2 years, he taught himself to ride the bike in one day. His self-esteem is restored. He enjoys going to the library and selecting books although they are not read (yet!), enjoys sketching, is taking a class, and is learning to exercise self-control over his behavior.
We have been back to the six reading teachers involved with Scott over the 2nd Grade year and none are knowledgeable about vision-related problems. Scott thought he saw the world as others saw it, so he was unable to help with the self-diagnosis. Our advice to parents is that it is up to you to be pro-active about your child's deficiency. If you recognize these symptoms in your child. seek vision testing at Draisin Vision Group as soon as possible so that your child's academic success and self-esteem can thrive.
Indicators we missed when Scott was younger were: bothered by light, car sickness and pain in the top of his head (complaint since age 2), bribing other preschoolers with snacks to do his coloring and crafts, unable to ride a bike, fear of heights and open staircases, unable to follow multiple commands, unable to practice what has been taught through repetitious training, and lack of self-control.
Jean S. Branton, Parent