David was found to have a significant vision problem. When doing close-up work like reading and writing, he was having trouble getting both eyes to focus on the same spot on the page simultaneously. This had been going on for so long that David’s brain was starting to suppress the vision of one eye in favor of the other.
So David took several months off from reading instruction to undergo vision therapy. When he returned to my office, the only manifestation of the old reading behavior that I observed was his tendency to guess at unfamiliar words. All of the yawning, watering eyes, head bobbing, etc., simply wasn’t present any longer. Even his handwriting had improved immensely.
I worked with David for several more sessions and then let him go. At exit he tested at grade level on word recognition and his word attack skills had gone from one year below grade level at intake to over one year above grade level at exit. We spent the last several sessions concentrating on breaking his guessing habit by substituting a better strategy.
When I let him go I told the parents to check back in a few months and let me know how he was progressing. They did so and reported that David continued to do well, showing no signs of regression in his reading behavior.
Following my experience with David, I referred several more clients to the Family Vision Center for evaluations, using David’s past reading behaviors as a guide to when to consider a referral. Over time, I came to realize that a large percentage of my clients showed symptoms of suffering from undiagnosed vision problems and began to refer more aggressively.
In the meantime, I lost my lease on the space I was renting and had to move. One of the vision therapists mentioned that space might be available at the Family Vision Center, and I jumped at the chance to be more closely connected with what I had come to see as a major resource for helping children overcome reading problems.
A couple of years later, Dr. Foss and Dr. Wonderling built a new office and again offered me the opportunity to rent a space from them, which I accepted. The Family Vision Center, as of 2012, remains the only source of vision therapy in the La Crosse area. In 2009, I retired from one-on-one reading instruction and so I no longer maintain an office there, but I continue to highly recommend them to parents of struggling readers.
This completes my story of how OnTrack Reading developed, with one loose end to tie up. It’s an important loose end concerning the confusing research that has been generated on reading problems.