Dr. Suess and the Wibbly-Wobbly Words

On March 2nd, the nation celebrated the birthday of the one and only Dr. Suess.  Teachers across the country honored the beloved children’s author by reading his works in classrooms, and hosting activities and exercises to promote reading at any age, in any way.  With his nonsense rhymes, invented words and colorful imagery, Dr. Suess has made reading fun for children for generations.  It’s no wonder that we kick off March as National Reading Month in celebration of this great innovator.

Bringing reading into focus is important to helping parents and educators understand how children learn.  Reading, especially Dr. Suess books, should be fun!  So why, even on a day meant to celebrate reading, do some children struggle?  There is little pressure put on students at these events to read at a certain speed, or perform at a certain level, yet some children show frustration and avoidance of even the most enjoyable literature.  And, in the words of the dear Doctor, “When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun.  Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go

According to the American Academy of Optometry, one in twelve children suffer from a condition called Convergence Insufficiency, perhaps better understood as near-double vision.  The direct and indirect effects of this serious learning problem can make reading an exhausting chore, instead of a fun way to expand the imagination.  Words on the page seem to overlap, split apart, re-arrange and jump around, leaving the child confused and feeling stupid for not understanding what their classmates so clearly comprehend.  An entire month focused on reading can draw attention to students who have perhaps learned how to get by in school, but still struggle with the fundamentals of reading.

It is important for parents and teachers to understand that near-double vision, and other visual problems, are not always obvious.  They present in varying degrees of severity, and sometimes clever children find methods of coping with their struggles, like closing one eye to read, sometimes inadvertently shutting down the image from the weaker eye so that the dominant eye can process independently.  But if the child still completes their homework and accomplishes assignments, why look further into vision-related learning problems?

On these days of extended focus on reading, even the best students can start to show signs of restlessness and frustration.  They complain of headaches, or rub their eyes, and try to avoid the long silence of sustained reading.  Even though these students seem to manage reading assignments with relative ease, the extended focus on words that will not seem to sit still on the page can lead to defeated attitudes, and even behavior problems.

2Since these children have never experienced normal binocular vision, their struggle is impossible to explain.  They make excuses, or say that reading makes them tired — and it does!  Their brains are working twice as hard to make the words on the page fuse into one and stay put.  And since they are unaccustomed to not performing their best, they find that reaching out for help is even harder.


“I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true,

that Bang-ups

and Hang-ups

can happen to you.”

— Dr. Suess, Oh, the Places You’ll Go


So, as we venture through the rest of Reading Month, let’s keep our eyes open for children who don’t always struggle, but maybe find extended reading a bit tiresome.  Let’s keep them motivated, and watch for signs of vision problems that could be holding your best and brightest back.  At Wow Vision Therapy, we want to help all children, regardless of the severity of their visual problems.  So whether your words are wibbly or wobbly, don’t ever give up, you stupendous somebody!

“You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So get on your way!”

— Dr. Suess, Oh, the Places You’ll Go

AJ’s Story: Treating Developmental Delays with Vision Therapy

Take a look at AJ’s story and you will see how a child with developmental delays can also have vision-related delays that interfere with many areas of life. AJ is not alone as children with delayed vision development will typically show poor academic progress and struggle with many routine activities in daily living. While age is not a barrier to treatment, when caught early and treated with office-based optometric vision therapy, a child with vision related developmental delays can often times catch up and show the progress expected for their age. In this short video you will hear AJ’s parents describe their experience and AJ’s success at Wow Vision Therapy.

Domenic’s Story…Vision Problems Associated with Developmental Delays

IMG_2638“Developmental delays” is a common diagnosis for many children in our care at Wow Vision Therapy. In addition to office-based optometric vision therapy, helping children with developmental delays often requires a multidisciplinary approach, including occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy.

In this short video, Domenic’s story is told by his father along with video footage of Domenic while he was in vision therapy at Wow Vision Therapy. We invite you to take a moment of time and see if Domenic’s story resonates with you and if so, help pass it on so that those children with developmental delays can be recognized and provided the vision care that is so important to their future. We are also happy to provide answers to your questions if you wish to leave a comment.

Treating Developmental Delays with Vision Therapy

Nathan is a child who had a history of significant developmental delays. Before vision therapy he struggled with hyperactivity, lack of focus, poor balance and difficulty with gross and fine motor ability. But, now thanks to early intervention and a multidisciplanary approach involving vision therapy, OT and speech therapy, Nathan has caught up and even begun to excel! Take a look and hear from Nathan’s mother…

For more insights check out the post written by Dr. Dan Fortenbacher on the VisionHelp Blog entitled:

Good sight and bad vision…recognizing the difference and how to explain it to parents

Optometry and Vision Therapy’s important role in the treatment of Autism

Ryan is a child with Autism. Like many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) they can also experience delays in vision development which  significantly exaggerates the severity of the spectrum of behaviors associated with their autism.

Take a look and see Ryan’s progression throughout  9 months of office-based optometric vision therapy at Wow Vision Therapy. Ryan was initially referred to us by his Sensory Integration Occupational Therapist who recognized the hallmark signs and symptoms of a developmental vision problem that was interfering with Ryan’s progress.

Doctors of Optometry also play a vital role in the early detection of autism. This is becoming
Optometry-times-cover1more evident also in continuing education for optometrists around the US. For example at the 2012 AOA Annual Meeting,  Dr. Glen T. Steele presented on this important topic to primary care optometrists. The story was published in the September 2012 of Optometry Times.

More information can also be found on The VisionHelp Blog where Dr. Leonard Press has written extensively on the subject of vison and autism. Click here for the collection of VH Blog articles published on this topic. For those who would like an excellent article published in Volume 40/Number 3/2009,
Optometry and Vision Development, entitled: The Role of Optometry in Early Indentification of Austim Spectrum Disorders, authored by: Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD and Jack E. Richman, O.D., FCOVD, click here.

Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D.,FCOVD

Lunch and Learn…Wow Vision Therapy and Children’s Therapy Center in South Bend

100_6553100_6552Yesterday Dr. Fortenbacher, along with Wow Vision Therapy’s Clinic Director, Dr. Lindsey Stull, and resident,  Dr. Tuan Tran presented to the staff at the Children’s Therapy Center at Memorial Children’s Hospital in South Bend. The program was part of the new “Lunch and Learn” educational series that provides a much more personal and interactive experience for the OTs, PTs and SLPs at the Center.

100_6557Dr. Fortenbacher (and team) were able to present, over the course of the lunch hour, 3 recent or current patients in treatment and engage in a collaborative Q&A discussion. Written and video presentations helped to show how these children obtain the best outcomes in their overall progress through office-based optometric vision therapy and a multidisciplinary approach provided by the team at the Children’s Therapy Center.

100_6550During the discussion there were some who asked about how to obtain more information about developmental vision and vision rehabilitation. For those who want to find out more detailed information about these topics the following was recommended:

Dr. Fortenbacher PESI Visual Processing and Therapy Lecture Resource Links and The VisionHelp Blog

A special thanks to Kay Azar, PT for organizing this event and also our MCO Extern, Dr. Katie, for assisting!

Children with Autism: The Life Changing Results of Vision Therapy

How can vision therapy help a child with autism? In this video you will meet our patient Owen, a child with autism. See how vision therapy can be a very effective treatment for the developmental delays of the visual system associated with autism.

Early intervention critically important in children’s vision problems

When is it OK to “wait and see” if the problem goes away on it’s own?

What if your 6 year old child has been diagnosed with a binocular vision problem that appears to be interfering with her learning to read? You are seeing behaviors that look like she can’t concentrate on books. Her teacher is spotting some signs of trouble but can’t be sure that it is “her eyes”. You take her to an eye doctor who makes the diagnosis of a binocular vision problem called convergence insufficiency but dismisses treatment “for now” and opts for monitoring the problem. But, is it really ok to just wait and see?

As strange as it may sound, an outdated approach often recommended by many eye doctors when faced with a young patient (often 4-7 years old) diagnosed with certain forms of eye coordination problems, such as convergence insufficiency, is to simply monitor the condition and see if it goes away it’s own. In other words, no treatment is recommended.

In response to this and other vision problems in children, the University of Oregon Brain Development Lab has just produced this video on vision and the developing brain. See what the neuroscientists and the research is showing about the importance of early intervention.

Then check out the story of a mom (below) who wouldn’t accept “NO” for an answer when told that her 6 year old daughter (with convergence insufficiency) was too young to be treated.

Find out how a persistent mom dealt with this problem with her own 6 year old daughter. Read the heartwarming and inspirational story from Paige Melendres in Albuquerque, who was not comfortable with the “wait and see” recommendation by her first doctor.  Her story can be found by clicking on  CI:The Private Eye Goes Public -Part 1 and scroll down to comment #8. Her story has a happy ending and good advice for parents who may have a child who is struggling.

CI: The Private Eye Goes Public is a  VisionHelp Blog investigational series written by Dr. Leonard Press and Dr. Dan Fortenbacher dedicated to uncovering the important public health and patient care issues surrounding convergence insufficiency.

Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., FCOVD

From Temple Grandin to Moms Fighting Autism…seeing the vision connection

Child with autism Statistics from the Autism Society shows that autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US. Current studies are suggesting that Autism is occurring in 1 in 110 children with nearly 1.5 million living with this condition. Autism is a spectrum disorder that typically includes pervasive developmental delays in sensory processing. One critical area to a child with Autism can be vision development.

One of the most famous adults with autism is Temple Grandin, PhD., who has been able to rise above the challenges associated with autism. Her story is now being told in the HBO full length feature film entitled  Temple Grandin, staring critically acclaimed actor, Claire Danes. As a testament to her ability to apply herself, Dr. Grandin describes the impact of her vision in her book, Thinking in Pictures, and Other Reports of My Life with Autism.

Expanding this awareness is a new group, Moms Fighting Autism. Moms Fighting Autism is a monthly webinar service dedicated to helping moms who have children with autism. And this month the Moms Fighting Autism Webinar is featuring one of Optometry’s leading lecturers, writers and clinicians in the area of Developmental Vision…Dr. Carl Hillier.

Dr. Hillier’s webinar is occurring on February 16, 2010 at 6:PM PT. Dr. Hillier will be discussing “Vision and Living Within the Autistic Spectrum,” including Vision Therapy.  To register for this FREE webinar click here.

Dr. Hillier was also recently featured on San Diego 6 News. Click here to see Dr. Hillier’s interview with reporter Greg Phillips. The topic was how hidden vision problems can be the cause of your child’s reading disabilities.

With greater public awareness of the vision problems associated with autism, more children (and adults) can find the developmental vision care that will help those with autism to lead a more happy and productive life. A good way to find a doctor who specializes in developmental vision care is to go to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development website and search for a Board Certified Fellow in your area.

Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D.,FCOVD