1) When people ask me why I chose to become a vision therapist, I answer: "Because vision therapy gave me my life back".
When I was in the third grade, I had my first introduction to vision therapy. I loved to read, but it was very tiring and I took a long time to complete assignments. My parents took me to a developmental optometrist and after two months of vision therapy my reading speed increased by three grade levels. I excelled in school and my family and I were delighted with the results. I assumed that was end of my experience with vision therapy.
In high school, I won a scholarship to a school that ranked fifth in the nation. I was seventh in my class and made it into the college of my choice. My sophomore year, my life was irrevocably changed by a very serious car accident. I was a passenger in a car that collided with a fuel-tanker and I sustained life threatening injuries and a traumatic brain injury. My doctors told me that I would never be able to walk without equipment, go to school, or work. After five years of surgeries, 10 years of physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and speech therapy, I managed to function without my wheelchair and walkers, but I still suffered severe headaches and couldn't read even three lines on a page. In desperation, my parents and I returned to the optometrist who had helped me so many years ago. Not surprisingly, I suffered from light sensitivity, tracking and eye-teaming problems.
I launched into my vision therapy program with the same determination that had given me success in physical therapy. The initial sessions were the most difficult. I had to clear the rest of my day after vision therapy because I was so exhausted afterwards and it triggered severe headaches. My therapist and I started with 20-minute sessions of just fixations and pursuits. The exercises were so hard; I was constantly frustrated, angry and discouraged. Eventually, we worked up to 30-minute sessions, and I was able to do some focusing and eye teaming activities. After six months of 45-minute sessions twice a week, I read my first book in over a decade. I told my parents I was ready to return to college and there wasn't a dry eye among us.
I was so grateful to my vision therapist and optometrist that I worked for the practice while I finished college. I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and was re-hired as a vision therapist. I love helping people empower themselves by getting their vision strong and functional. Now, when one of my patients is discouraged or frustrated, I share my personal story of recovery and hard work. When I open up in this way, patients realize that I understand their challenges. They also see that someone they know was able to achieve monumental gains and that gives them hope.
Vision therapy had such a positive effect on my life that I've been working in the field for several years and this year I completed my COVT certification. I want everyone who has visual challenges that limit their daily functioning to have the same opportunity for success that I was given. When people ask me why I chose to become a vision therapist, I answer: "Because vision therapy gave me my life back".
2) Vision Therapy has had a dramatic - and obvious - effect on Sydney's life.
During the fall of first grade, our daughter's teacher told us that she suspected Sydney suffered from ADHD. A consultation with a local psychologist seemed to confirm the teacher's suspicions. But we weren't convinced, and neither were her kindergarten or pre-school teachers. . . The same week, we got the "final diagnosis," a friend told me about vision therapy and how it was working for her son. We were open to anything that might save Sydney from a lifetime of medication, so we came to Dowis and discovered she had pretty severe convergence insufficiency. We began vision therapy and noticed a change in her outlook and personality within a couple of months. By the time she started second grade, she was back to the happy, enthusiastic learner we'd known in kindergarten. And, a year after we'd been told that she'd need special education for ADHD, we were informed by her school that she'd been placed in the Talented and Gifted Program (TAG)! We couldn't believe it! Vision Therapy has had a dramatic - and obvious - effect on Sydney's life and we're SO grateful!!!!
- Teresa, Sydney's mother
3) By Nani, age 9 1/2
It was easier to work at school after I did vision therapy. It made working more fun to do because I could see better. I can see everything better. These things are more fun now that I can see better:
· Playing Games
· Doing Math
· Playing on the playground, because I don't run into things
· Doing gymnastics, because I can listen better and see the equipment better. I know what I am doing and I know where I am.
· Drawing, because I can see what I am drawing
I don't run into my mom and dad as much as I used to, because I can see what I am doing and see them. It helps a lot.
It was very fun working with my teachers, Krystal and Andrea. I can hardly remember what it was like before I did vision therapy.
4) Mia is the current record holder for the Wayne Saccadic Fixator! She scored 117 points on April 20, 2012. Mia's reading speed has improved over 50 words per minute. Mia plays basketball, runs track, and is on the swim team. She also currently has a 4.0 gpa! Way to go Mia!