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I am a first grade teacher who has rediscovered a love for firsties this year. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade and even second over the past 16 years. I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with 2 very active boys.

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Reading and Eye Sight

There are so many children who struggle with reading.  As we look for a reason, many choose to blame ADHD, Common Core, excessive technology, lack of parent support and/or motivation, and the list goes on and on.

As educators, we look to see what we can do additionally in the classroom.  In addition to small group instruction, teaching strategies, Intervention Groups, Response to Intervention, after school tutoring programs, what else can possibly be done?

Let me introduce you Student A.  This little girl has struggled in the primary grades with reading.  She works hard, earns A's on her report card, and has an immense amount of parental support.  However, she was not what her parents or teachers would say is a fluent reader. 

 Student A did not pass her school's vision exam last year.  Her parents immediately too her to an eye doctor who tested her eyes.  She passed the screener and the DOCTOR told her parents she failed it on purpose because she wanted glasses and was a LIAR!  The truth is Student A did want glasses.  However, she did not fail the school's test on PURPOSE!

As a parent we want to see the best in our children and do what is right.  So this parent did go back for a second opinion.  She passed the initial screener again, but this doctor did additional testing and found a FOCUSING issue called Accommodating Dysfunction.  Accommodating Dysfunction can he helped by wearing glasses and/or with vision therapy!

Meet Student B.  This is a very active, busy boy who would rather be doing anything else other than reading.  He puts minimal effort into things, but always succeeds at what he does.  He has parent support (in fact, mom is a teacher) and he earns A's and B's in school. 

Student B's teachers would voice their concerns about his lack of attention while reading.  He did well on paper and pencil assessments, but he often scored below grade level on computerized benchmark testing and FAIR tests.  While reading out loud at home he would often say he was tired after 5-10 minutes of reading!

Student B also passed the school eye test and was eventually brought to the eye doctor to rule anything else out.  He then passed the preliminary eye test and had additional testing done where his eyes had to be dilated.  The results showed that Student B has a FOCUSING issue known as Muscular Imbalance.    The doctor explained that most people's eyes are able to focus on print for an extended period of time.  His eyes are constantly moving hence making it difficult to focus.  The eyes become physically exhausted after 10 minutes of focusing!  He now wears bifocals to help his eyes focus.  Vision therapy is also an alternative to the glasses.
Last but not least is Student C. She has been retained, has an IEP as other health impaired and still struggles with reading with many accommodations. 

Student C passed the school's eye test but after many doctor visits has found out she has Dyslexia and well as an eye problem.  Her left eye goes to the right and her right eye goes to the left and it is difficult for them to meet on the print as she is reading.  Student C has gone through vision therapy and weekly tutoring over the past several years. She is passing her high school classes with an enormous amount of extra work and studying, but struggles on state testing. 

ALL three children PASSED school and pediatrician eye screeners.  All three children STRUGGLE with reading.  All three children had parents who took WORK with these children at home and took ADDITIONAL steps to try and REMEDY a situation. 

These three children are near and dear to me.  I personally know them. The  two girls are daughters of close friends of mine. Student B is my own son Zachary.  It was so easy for me to think he just didn't want to read.  I feel guilty for not bringing him to the eye doctor sooner.  When asked about reading now, he says "The words are clearer and bigger now!"  He now wears glasses for in all subject areas including board work. 


 If I personally know three children with eye focusing issues, imagine how many other children go undiagnosed. 

Mrs. Wathen
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  1. I just had a student diagnosed with the muscle/dyslexia problem. She actually was prescribed tinted glasses and the note from the dr tells me they are not cosmetic but for reading problems. I believe I have others...what can we as teachers do?

  2. I so agree with you Tammy...there are lots of kids out there with undiagnosed vision problems. We have to be more proactive and diligent!

    I thought that Macular Degeneration was a loss of eyesight in the center of the eye? Is there another kind such as the one your son has?

  3. Thanks for this post! Very informative! I hadn't even heard of these things. I have heard of tracking issues...but nothing specific. This helps me be a more informed teacher.



  4. Great post Tammy, I have student who is ADHD, wears glasses for reading and was just diagnosed SLD but I think it really was a stretch to get that diagnosis. To me it really is something else and I am wondering if it is linked more to the eye sight.....awesome job!


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