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Child, Amblyopia, Learning Related

After reading a chapter, he told me that he thinks he has found his new hobby. I never thought I would hear him say that he enjoys reading!

As a preschool student, Ethan really enjoyed learning, especially the hands-on experiences that helped him understand math concepts and letter associations. At his annual vision check during kindergarten, he was prescribed glasses to help him read. Needless to say, he did not enjoy wearing them and especially did not enjoy reading. The next year at his annual checkup, we met Dr. Watt. Prior to being seen by the doctor, I completed the symptom checklist with Ethan that asked me to rate a variety of symptoms and challenges related to vision. When I read the comment about whether or not he can focus on reading and homework, I casually shook my head and justified it by saying, “he would rather be outside playing with his friends.” In my mind, that was normal behavior for a child his age, and I didn’t think much of it. I just had to be creative in getting him to finish his homework each night. Dr. Watt did not see it that way. This comment led him to examine Ethan’s eyes differently using a variety of tools and methods.

The diagnosis after that appointment was that Ethan had amblyopia, affecting his left eye. He received a new pair of prescription glasses and was instructed to wear them all of the time. We did our best to keep those glasses on his face! We purchased Croakies, and practiced saying, “on your face or in your case”. We broke a pair, lost a pair, forgot to put them on, etc. It was a challenge, but we did see improvements in his vision. The improvements were not necessarily obvious by his behaviors, but his eyes did show improvement at each subsequent assessment with Dr. Watt. After a year of wearing those glasses, he reached a plateau; and it was time to begin vision therapy.

We began weekly sessions for a planned 8 months of therapy. We began to notice differences in his behaviors after as little as 4 sessions! Homework was still a challenge for him, but it wasn’t as much of a struggle to get him to sit down and do it. He was consistent with his weekly vision therapy homework and really enjoyed working with this therapist. Ms. Christy, made the sessions feel more like fun than work. After about 2 months of therapy, Ethan was assigned a book report by his 3rd-grade teacher. He was to read a chapter book. The idea of reading a chapter book was always overwhelming to him. He much preferred books with pictures, large font, and not too many words; and he would get tired of reading after about 5 minutes. We worked with his teacher to select a chapter book that had a large font and a few pictures. Not only did he read the book and do well on his report, but he also enjoyed reading the book and felt a sense of accomplishment by doing so. This was a major step for him; one that brought tears to my eyes because I was so proud of him. Over the next couple of months, I noticed that his reading comprehension was improving as well. He started to enjoy learning again and didn’t struggle as much with his homework. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still difficult to get him to come inside and get his homework done. However, once he does sit down to do it, it gets done with very little parental prodding.

Because he was consistent with his vision therapy homework, he was able to move to the next phase of therapy after 7 months. He is now reading a new chapter book for his next book report. The other day, after reading a chapter, he told me that he thinks he has found his new hobby. I never thought I would hear him say that he enjoys reading! We are still working on his spelling and writing abilities, but we are so grateful that Dr. Watt saw a reason to evaluate his eyes more thoroughly two years ago and knew exactly what Ethan needed to improve his vision and ability to focus. -Ethan’s Mom