Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Through your child's eyes--a diatribe complete with a giveaway!

Everyone has a soap box or two that they lug around with them. One of my special favorites seems to be vision issues and young children. Seriously--I have cornered more parents than I can count with my concerns after watching their child squint at a book, turn their head while reading, struggle to print on a line or give up quickly when sorting through a box of like toys.

When Jo was diagnosed with vision difficulties as a preschooler, I began educating myself on the complex dance that results in the miracle of sight. While the entire human body is a wonder, I find that vision is a particularly amazing piece of creation. The coordination--and communication--between membranes, lenses, nerves and brain is far beyond what I could have ever dreamed up. So many pieces to the puzzle that fit just so. So much development and such a small margin for error. It's dizzying, I tell you.

Unfortunately, many parents put in desperately few hours ensuring that their child's eyes are developing properly or that he or she has the range of vision that is appropriate for his or her age. Heck, most parents don't even know that there is a range of normal vision, and that is changes as your child--and his eyes, muscles, etc.--mature. Parents don't know how closely vision is associated with overall behavior, how sensory input through the eyes can be overwhelming or even how small things such as print size can impact a child who seems to have "learning disabilities."

Why don't parents know these things? Because the people who have the knowledge generally don't take the time share it unless there are glaring red flags. Doctors don't pick up on it. Once a year, a nurse tells your son to stand on a line and read an eye chart, and then tells you that he passed. Unless you mention that he can't read for periods of longer than ten minutes, no one's the wiser. Teachers don't point out what appears to be a vision issue until it impacts classroom performance. And, believe it or not, your friendly neighborhood optometrist won't tell you either. Their training stops and starts with a general classification of eye health and vision. Much beyond that and they're swimming in deeper water than their sheepskin can float on.

For the bigger issues, you need the big guns. You need a pediatric opthamologist.

A pediatric opthamologist can tell you not only how well your child can see, but how his or her eyes are developing. Are the muscles working in tandem? What is the ideal visual range for my child? Do his or her eyes tire easily? Is there any crossing? What print size is recommended for my child? And this is just for starters, folks.

While an initial visit to a pediatric opthamologist may be a budget cruncher, I can't recommend it highly enough. Armed with the information that this specialist will give you, I can almost guarantee that you will find some way to homeschool better, smarter and with less fuss on your child's behalf even--and this is the kicker--even if your child's vision is 20/20. If I had a nickel for every person who took my advice and saw a pediatric opthamologist and then reported back to me that their child really wasn't just complaining, he couldn't see the words on the page ... let's just say I'd be hosting this blog on a paid site instead of blogger. :-)

I posted last week about sensory issues and homeschooling and trust me, vision is one of the senses. Input that comes in fuzzy, inaccurately, cloudy or erratically hits the brain with a thud and pushes out behavior that stumps adults like us who just can't see the world the way that the little people we're charged with parenting do. The kids can't fix it themselves. They need help learning coping skills and working with the neurological wiring that God gave them. No matter how frustrating it is to parent a child who fidgets, spins like a top or can't find a specific Lego in a box full of clashing colors, you hold the key to helping your child mature through this.

I mentioned in my last sensory post that I had a sampling of the line by line readers offered by Heads Up! and was planning on giving some away. Before I give out the rules, here's what Heads Up! has to say about their products.

Heads Up! Top of the Line This reading aid has a blue or yellow highlighted strip along the top to help readers "keep their place" along a line of text, graphs, or charts. Use of color has been shown to be helpful in focusing attention, so the Heads Up! Top of the Line is helpful even for proficient readers who are distractible or have difficulty maintaining visual attention for adequate periods of time. Makes a great bookmark, too! (Size 2-3/8" by 8")

Heads Up! Double Time This reading aid has a transparent yellow or blue strip along the top that highlights an area large enough for the reader to view two lines of most texts. A visual reminder to continue reading to the next line, the Heads Up! Double Time is also a helpful tool for proficient readers who benefit by using color to help focus attention. Makes a great bookmark, too! (Size 2-3/8" by 8")

Heads Up! Frame - 4 x 4 1/2 Our own creation, these frames are made of transparent colored polycarbonate with a printed frame. The large Heads Up! Frames are 4" x 9" rectangles. You can direct attention and focus by placing the frames over workbook pages or other written materials to be examined. The frames block in key material while the color contrast helps maintain attention. These frames are especially useful for marking the place on the page for individuals who tend to look away from the page frequently. When looking back at the page they can easily and quickly find the framed-in area. Available in the following colors: yellow, pink, blue, red, green, and orange.

Heads Up! Frame - 4 x 9 Our own creation, these frames are made of transparent colored polycarbonate with a printed frame. The small frames are 4” x 4-½” squares. These frames are useful for the child who feels overwhelmed when viewing an entire page of material; the teacher can frame in just a section of the page so that it appears more manageable to the child. Available in the following colors: yellow, pink, blue, red, green, and orange.

Heads Up! Reader The Heads Up! Reader has a highlight strip of color between two strips of grey. The highlighted section aids in visual tracking and the color helps maintain attention to printed text. The straight edges can be used to neatly underline key words or phrases. The Reader is thin and flexible, and can be used as a bookmark for added convenience. Choice of yellow, green, red, blue, orange, pink or clear.

These are wonderful tools for new readers, for children with sensory input differences, for kids with ADHD, for children whose attention is often pulled away from a page, for kids who struggle to stay on task for ... EVERYONE.

O.k., now for the fun part. I am giving away two complete sets of Heads Up! readers. To be entered in the drawing, simply leave a comment that lists the age/ages of the child or children you'd be using the readers with and whether you'd prefer yellow or green frames. Leave a separate comment if you're a follower of this blog (or if you choose to become a follower) and I'll throw your name in the hat twice. The drawing will be held on Friday, March 6 and winners will be posted at that time.


Bethany said...

I think my 9 year old could us these. We wondered if eyesight was affecting her reading and, though I think things have mostly straightened out, I'd love to experiment with these to see if it helps even more. I follow your blog on my RSS feed, don't know if that counts for an extra entry, but there you go.
I love the mix on your blog of subjects that interest me, homeschooling, adoption, faith. Keep it up!

kiki said...

I would love to try these with my ds who has swnsory issues, vision being one of them, and my dd who I suspect has ADD.

Rose said...

I think this would be a great tool to help me with my 8yo who is still struggling with learning to read. I'd probably use them with my 10yo who reads well, but skips lines/words because she loses her place. Hmmm, yellow or green, I guess green :D


Rose said...

Oh, and I'm a follower ;)

AY said...

I would love to use the readers with my son who is 5 and a half. (Maybe his younger sister and brothers could use them later.)

Thanks for hosting this great giveaway, Mary Grace!


AY said...

I'm a follower of the blog. :)

I forgot to say - Green because that's his fav color!


1shortmomof4 said...

Pediatric Opthamalogists are wonderful! We just finished an eval for our ds who is 9 and has struggled to read. She has assured me it is just an issue of time and patience at this point and that he's making great strides in his progress. She has also helped our younger ds who is 5 with a lazy eye in regaining its strength and maintaining it! We love the color green! I am avid follower of your blog but I'm the quiet type.

blessedmomto7 said...

I'm a follower and I like green!

blessedmomto7 said...

I would like to use it for my child with sensory issues-she is only 3 but my 8 year old & 5 year old could use it until she needs it!

Benny said...

Do friends in real life get to enter, or is that cheating? Oh well, it's worth a shot, anyway. So here are the details on my kids, just in case you had lost track. ;o)

I would be using them with my 7 year old son, and his favorite color is green. He has been diagnosed with binocular dysfunction.

I would try them with my 5 year old son, too, who has sensory issues, though he's not doing much in the way of real reading just yet.

And two more down the road with who knows what kind of vision and sensory issues! Think of the possibilities...


Benny said...

And I'm a follower, too. Loyal for years. ;o)


Rebecca said...

Hi there. My dd is only 3 so I don't need to be entered in the contest. I just wanted to give you a big "Amen!" about the subject of todays blog. My dd was easily distractable, hyper and generally pretty spacey. We took her to the eye doctor and her sight was -8.5! After getting glasses she's a completely different kid. The first time she looked at me and actually "saw" my face I nearly cried.

I hope everyone reads this post of yours.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those sound really cool. I would use them with my 7yo. She has been though vision therepy, but is still struggling to read. I have considered getting some of these, but haven't tried them yet.

I haven't figured out the follow the blog thing, but I do have your site bookmarked and read regularly.

Leah W said...

my son is 6, almost 7 years old. i think he would like the green ones :)

Natalie said...

Hi Mary Grace, I'm visiting this post at the suggestion of Deanna from Picking out a Thermos. ( Thanks for this info. My 8yo son is struggling at school and his teacher keeps asking if it's his eyesight. He's been tested several times and always scores a 20/20 on vision but maybe we need to consider your suggestion of taking him to a pediatric opthamologist. He loves to read but so often, I feel as though he's just skimming the material and not really comprehending what he's looking at.

The head's up tool might but a good aid for him. Either color would be great.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

It is so interesting to think (wonder) how much behavior is literally based on how a child sees the world.

Our 6-y-o and 4-y-old would be the ones using at this time.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

I'm a follower through bloglines.

I'm horrible about choosing between colors, but I'll say Yellow just to make a decision.

(I have to say b/c I don't think I commented when you did them: I loved your series on "I can't foster because..." My family did SED fostering when I was in H.S. and college-- still living at home-- and that was some of the best training I think I could have had for parenting: once I'd participated with that, I had a great deal of confidence with my own kids.)

Christian said...

I have a 5 year old, who is a great reader, but a lazy reader. He gets the gist of the story and then inserts pertinent words.

I have a 4 year old who is learning to read, she isn't ADD Or ADHD but is very squirly! We are working on self-control with her, and I think these would cause her to gain some focus.

Thanks for the giveaway, I am new to your blog!

Beth said...

What neat tools! I am homeschooling my oldest this year... hopefully the start to many more years of homeschooling! :-) Isaac (age 5) is learning to read, and I know he can do a good job, but at times, he struggles to focus. I try to only "do school" when there is the least amount of noise in the house... a difficult task with 2 younger (age 4 and 2) sisters and a foster baby brother (9 mos.). Even if I don't win the drawing, I'll look into getting these!
He'd like the "John Deere green" frames... of course "John Deere yellow" would be a close second choice :-)

EllaJac said...

I homeschool my kids. I have a 7 year old and 4 year old who would be 'users' of these things... I think we like green. Perhaps one day the 17-month-old and the one-on-the-way might enjoy them as well.

I don't know if I'm a 'follower' (I don't have my pic on your sidebar... I'm weird like that), but I subscribe via google reader and read all your posts. :)

Jennifer Sr. said...

I love your posts on sensory issues and I love Beyond Five in a Row also, btw! ;)

However, I don't wish to enter the contest because I already know that my little angel hates green and yellow. LOL A little sensory humor for ya!

We did just recently find that small one line highlighter and he seems to like that. I can't wait to look over that whole website.

kiki said...

I have several products I would like to order from Heads Up but I can not get their shopping cart to work for me nor can I find a phone number to call. Do you have any ideas on how I can contact them, I did send an email but it wasn't answered.


Birthblessed said...

Hey MG, I'd like to try these for myself. The yellow ones. When I look at black letters on white page, they look like they are vibrating and have yellow "ghosts." It's annoying and I think it's why it takes me SO long to read a book, and more often than not after a page or two I fall asleep.

Birthblessed said...

I am SUCH a follower. ;)