Adolescent with Language-Based Learning Disabilities

At the time I entered kindergarten my parents knew that I had problems with reading and language skills. In second grade, I had not yet been diagnosed with a learning disability, but I was being pulled out of my classroom two to three times a week for special reading instruction. In third grade I was diagnosed with auditory processing deficit and classroom accommodations were recommended, though I was not documented with a learning disability.  At that same time I was identified as gifted and pulled out of class three times a week to join the gifted and talented class.

As my school years progressed, the reading became harder and note-taking in class and writing became more intense. But my skills were not developing at the same pace as my peers and not at a pace consistent with my intelligence. At the end of my seventh grade year, my parents and my school district enlisted a multidisciplinary team to evaluate my skill level and get to the root of my problems. It was at that point I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder by an independent evaluator and I qualified for special reading services.  Additionally, I was placed into counseling for dealing with depression because of falling behind in school and the nightly fighting that would go on between my parents and myself over homework.

As middle school continued Mom and Dad would read me my homework, help me to complete my assignments, and study for tests; however I was only earning C’s and D’s and frustrations were still growing more and more intense. I would have problems copying things off the black board, and get headaches when trying to do my assignments.  My parents just could not keep up with the time demands of helping me with my homework.

At the beginning of my eighth grade year I was re-evaluated independently and while I showed some progress, it was far less than my family had hoped for. There was, however, a very important member of my evaluation team, Dr Arthur Seiderman. When he evaluated me he realized that I had many issues with my eyes, including problems with eye teaming, tracking, and accommodation. More importantly he challenged the rest of the IEP team to figure out how I would be able to learn to read the words on the page without being able to see the words on the page.  A few months later, I was in vision therapy at the Vision Development Center of King of Prussia.

As a result of the multi-disciplinary independent evaluations, I was placed into intense training and therapies including Neurofeedback, the Lindenmood-Bell reading program and FastForWord (A Computer based program with games that teaches processing of speech sounds and works on short term auditory memory and auditory sequencing).

I continued vision therapy through the summer after ninth grade and each time I was re-evaluated my vision was getting stronger and I could see my reading improving. That summer I was accepted into one of the premier schools in the country for adolescents with Language-Based Learning Disabilities. The catch was I would have to move from the Philadelphia area to Boston to attend. I thought that all my vision training would stop, but Dr. Janet Wilamowski and her team at the Vision Development Center were able to provide me with a travel version of vision exercises. I came back the following summer and found my vision improvement had continued to be on track! With the help of teachers I was able to keep up with my progress as well as finally learn to read!

The next summer I completed the PACE program with the team at the Vision Development Center.

Within two years of starting at my new school I was able to move to the College Prep School and one year later I graduated High School (ON TIME) with a scholarship to the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University.

Today, I am a college graduate with degrees in Computer Science and Theater Technology/Design and I am a Software Engineer for a Financial Company in the Philadelphia area.

I continue to visit Dr Wilamowski and her team every year for my yearly vision re-evaluation. While I cannot credit all of my success in life to vision therapy, I can say that it definitely changed my life! I now have no difficulty with following the words on a page or following my notes when I play piano or trumpet.  I have no vision issues while jumping between things of different distances. My vision issues are a thing of the past!

Vision therapy and PACE taught me tools that I used to help me overcome the disabilities that I have. During my yearly visits the staff and I constantly discuss how far I have come, from almost failing out of ninth grade to becoming a successful college graduate.

I have many people to thank, however I know that I would not have been able to complete any of it if I was not able to see the words on the page!

Laura

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