Double vision is fairly common among children.  It is estimated that about two children in every classroom have double vision.  Double vision is also called eye teaming.
Like many other vision problems, signs of double vision become more prevalent after 3rd grade.  Why?  Small print.  Many of the vision problems become worse as the print in reading materials gets smaller and moves closer together.  Students do not often mention that they see double print, because they usually do not realize that not everyone sees this way.

Causes of Double Vision

The eyes are extremely complex.  Eye teaming occurs when the eyes can focus on exactly the same point at the same time.  Think about being "cross-eyed" - that students would obviously have vision problems, but it would also be obvious to the examiner.  If a child's eyes move apart tiny bit, that would cause double vision and not be noticeable without an in-depth exam.

Signs of Double Vision

1.  Does your child cover or close one eye when she tries to read?
2.  Does you child rest his face in his hand - and cover an eye with his palm?
3.  Does you child miss chunks of words when she reads?
4.  Does your child turn the book or his head to the side when he reads?
5.  Your child repeats letters in words when she shouldn't.  For example, spelling far "faar".
6.  He misses math problems with columns, because the columns do not "line up."

If you want to ask your child if she sees double, the book, When Your Child Struggles, Dr. David Cook recommends asking your child is the words ever "pull apart or run together."  That makes more sense to children than double vision.

Where Can Teachers Get Information

Teachers can get information for free from the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc.  They have a pamphlet called the Educator's Guide to Classroom Vision Problems.

Okay, so I like to pretend that I am a craft-goddess when I can.  In my head I can make absolutely AMAZING things.  In real life....not so much.  I mean, I am not all thumbs, but I am definitely not giving Martha Stewart a run for her money.  So when I see cute but useful craft ideas marked BEGINNER, I hop right on it.
For my fellow moms that have never had two seconds to get something for your child's teacher, this easy clipboard may be for you.  I was inspired by this Michaels' project.  I adjusted their idea in order to:
1.  be more functional. (What teacher wants chalk everywhere?)
2.  be easier.
3.  be cheaper.

Supply List

- I printed off my Staples rewards and got my clipboards for free.
- Next I hit WalMart to check out their ribbon selection, and I found my ribbon there.  If your store is like mine, it gets picked over very fast.  It was really hard to find the coordinating ribbons, because the smaller size was usually sold out. (Go ahead and ask my 13 year old how long this took.  She sat down....)  Plan ahead on this.  Also, the green ribbon I bought is wired.  I found that type harder to glue than the grosgrain ribbon.  (The grosgrain ribbon is actually pink and orange, although it looks red in the picture.)
- I bought sponge brushes.  I forgot to look at WalMart, but I found a pack of six at Target.
- I had Mod Podge at home, but buy that if you need it.
- Go home and take a nap. We actually went to three stores in one trip.  That is pretty huge for me.  (At this point, my daughter would be yelling "introvert" at me, but we also had major head colds all week.  My energy is zapped.)

Assembly Tips

1.  Precut your ribbon.  If you have a lighter, you can singe the back of the ribbon so it doesn't fray, but don't get the ribbon in the fire itself or you will have problems.....
2.  Do NOT mod podge the clipboard directly.  Instead mod podge the reverse side of the ribbon.
3.  Once you have the ribbon all set, mod podge over top to seal it.
4.  If, like me, you have dried glue all over the plastic clipboard, you can use alcohol to get it off.  (Scrub hard with an alcohol soaked paper towel.)
5.  For a nice easy, no sew, no crazy direction ribbon, here is the video by Christine Kobzeff that saved me.  Okay, cheapo crafters, she says to use "floral wire."  However, a paperclip twists up nicely and hides well under the ribbon.  Smaller paperclips work better.
6.  I may buy a spray on acrylic sealer.  I am just going to watch and see how well the mod podge holds to the plastic.  If I end up doing that, I will let you know.

Let me know if you try this project - I would love to hear how it turns out!

With my son, we were very responsible.  He always went to yearly check-ups, and when he turned five I took him for his vision eye exam.  He had 20/20 vision until 2nd grade, when he was prescribed glasses for 20/25 vision.
I was so excited - maybe this was my answer!  Maybe he just couldn't see well and now he would read!
Nope.  Nothing.  Imagine my disappointment when his attitude toward reading didn't change.  (Not to mention having to buy new glasses every 3 months because he would somehow break the arms off.  You don't even want to know how much I spent on eyeglasses.)
On top of that, he would complain that it was still hard to see with his glasses on.

What is 20/20 Vision?

I am sure many parents are like I was - if my child passed the eye exam, then his vision must be fine.  The vision specialist explained it like this: the standard eye exam just means that your child can see those letters for the 5 seconds he focused on them during the exam.  That's it.
Is it worthless?  No.  Many people do have eye problems that are caught during the standard vision exam, but there are many eye problems that cannot be detected with only that exam.  In order to catch vision problems such as tracking problems, more in-depth testing is needed.
If you suspect your child has a problem, please make an appointment with a vision therapist.  After I found the vision checklist and suspected that this was the problem, I first made an appointment with our eye doctor.  He did an exam and found nothing, but said that it would be a good idea to see the children's vision specialist - even though he didn't think there was a problem.  (He is an excellent optometrist, too.  It just shows you how important an in-depth exam is for discovering these eye problems.)

What is Vision Accommodation?

Accommodation is the eye's ability to focus on objects at different distances.  In order to do this, the eye must change the shape of the lens - just as a camera refocuses when you try to take pictures of objects at different distances.  There are three different abilities of accommodation:

1.  Power - The closer that you can see clearly, the more powerful your accommodation.
2.  Flexibility - How quickly your eye refocuses when shifting its focal point.  (Looking from the board to the book, for example.)
3.  Maintenance - How long you can look at the same distance and stay focused.  (Think about reading long passages.  This problem makes it harder to keep your eyes focused.  My son has this problem.  He starts out great, but his vision gets worse the longer he reads.  At this time, we are up to being able to read for about 5 minutes.)

A student with accommodation problems may struggle to complete work, because his eyes fatigue the longer he tries to stay focused.  Having to take home unfinished work on top of regular homework means that the child may increasingly fall behind, simply because his eyes cannot keep up.
One key to understand about vision problems is that the children don't understand that their vision isn't normal.  That was so crushing for me to realize - my son just didn't understand that not everyone saw things the way he did.  That is why the kids don't speak up - they don't know.  So instead of speaking up they either resist the close work that makes their eyes hurt or they take forever to get it done.  (Guess which one my son did?  Hours and hours of screaming about the work instead of doing it.  Did I mention HOURS?  For years.)

Possible Signs of an Accommodation Problem

1.  The student reads really well at first, but makes sloppy mistakes or loses his place the longer he reads.
2.  She avoids reading or other close work (writing, columns of math problems, etc.)
3.  He mentions headaches when he reads or rubs his eyes frequently.  My son used to say his eyes burned.  (Sadly, the kid has incredibly bad allergies so I never put the burning with an eye problem.  He just did not win the genetic lottery.)
4.  She blinks a lot.  (Blinking is how children try to refocus their eyes when it gets blurry.)
5.  He complains of not being able to see even after having a 20/20 vision screening.
6.  She moves the book around while she reads.  (Imagine moving a book closer or farther away like the lens of a camera.  Again, another another to refocus.)
7.  He makes many careless errors when reading from the board.  (I can't tell you how many times I had to send my son back to his room to recopy his spelling words.  Sometimes I couldn't even figure out what the word might have been.)
8.  She doesn't seem to read as well as she should for her ability.  (I thought my son was just a slacker.  I mean, if I asked him what he should do he could tell me - he just wouldn't do it.  Think of all the kid's labelled "underperforming.")

I am using a wonderful book as my resource for this blog series - our vision therapist gave it to us when we began this journey.  In case you would like to read the book yourself, it is When Your Child Struggles: The Myths of 20/20 Vision by Dr. David Cook.  It is wonderful and easy to read.

Next week I will talk about eye teaming and double vision.

Has anyone else gone through vision therapy with their child?  Teachers, do these signs bring to mind any students?  I could have lit up a room with all the light bulbs that went off in my head when I first learned this!

Have you ever had a student that seemed bright, but just refused to read or made silly mistakes when he or she read?  That was my son.

Don't Compare Your Children

On the one hand I had my daughter. My daughter began reading about halfway through kindergarten and quickly progressed from not reading to reading chapter books.  The kid will still lay in bed and read all day.  Until middle school, I never really had to help her with any school work.

On the other hand, my son would read - but only if you read to him.  This continued on from kindergarten through second grade.  At one point he was screaming for about four hours instead of reading 10 minutes.  (I am NOT exaggerating.  Seriously.  HOURS.)  I tried everything - reading with him, offering rewards, etc.  Nothing worked.  He would always catch up enough that I didn't feel he should be retained, but every year I could just see him slipping.  I really worried that he would never like school.

The Struggle Continued

During his third grade year I began teaching at his school.  His teacher spoke with me frequently and assured me that he wasn't lazy - there were times he just didn't get it.  The boy did every after school reading program I could stick him in, even putting him on the reading programs in my room.  Again we talked about retention - but the child was doing 5th grade math in 3rd grade.  When his state test scores came back, he missed being on grade level in reading by one point  - and his math score was one point higher.  I knew at that point there was a problem.

During the summer I tried reading with him.  Just getting him to agree to read took an act of God. Once we began reading, he would only make it a few words.  We found a choose your own adventure book about World War II.  He was very interested in it, and I noticed that he didn't seem to have as much trouble with it.  I noticed that the book was written in a larger font with a bigger space between the lines. How was he reading this harder book with few problems when he would stumble on easier books?

Answers at Last!

I decided to use the power of Google.  I typed in, "Why does my child skip lines when he reads?"  Google took me to this site.

I found the self-assessment for vision issues, and a light turned on.  Honestly, my son could have been a poster child for vision problems! I knew in my gut that I had found the problem.  I was so relieved.

My A-ha Moment

Then I got angry.  I have more than twenty years experience teaching, and there are two other teachers in my family.  Why didn't we know about this?  Where was the teacher training on vision problems?

When we finally found a vision therapist, he informed us that it is estimated that more than half of  incarcerated juveniles have an undiagnosed vision problem.  Wow.  WOW.  Imagine how many students are slipping through the cracks because no one realizes that they cannot see.

Then I found a list of signs of a possible vision problem:
1.  Counting pages before beginning reading.
2.  Covering an eye with hair.
3.  Laying head on the desk and looking sideways at reading passage.
4.  Resting head on a palm - with the palm covering an eye.
5.  Rubbing eyes frequently while reading.
6.  Complaining eyes hurt.
7.  Avoids "close" work, even if it is easy.
8.  Seems to daydream.
9.  Starts strong but gives up easily.
10.  Skips or replaces easy words.
11.  Loses place while reading.
12.  Has had a vision test but has 20/20 vision, yet still seems to have problem reading.

Many students came to mind.

Spreading the Word

My son is still going through therapy.  He is finally making a lot of progress.  When we started, he truly could only read about four words before losing his place.  Now he can go about four pages.

I want to help other children to avoid the heartache my son has gone through.  There are a number of vision issues that are not detected in a common vision test.  I will focus on a different vision each week.

In the meantime, try these websites for more information:

Wichita Vision Development Center

Vision & Learning Center of Northcentral PA

Eye on Learning

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