By Mary Ellen Smith
Our son Jeremy, now 36, had a tough start in life, enduring serious developmental delays after a difficult birth.
He didn’t speak until he was past 2 years old and then his sentences were scrambled. When he heard the ice cream truck, he’d ask, “Cream ice cone me want, Mommy, please?”
Jeremy was clumsy, ran with his feet turned in and fell all the time. Every year, we visited the ER three of four times to treat his injuries.
In addition, he couldn’t focus his eyes, which darted from place to place.
After he underwent a battery of tests, doctors explained that Jeremy had suffered a lack of oxygen during birth and one-third of his brain had died. He also was off the charts for hyperactivity. The damage was irreversible.
We were devastated.
I had a background in special education, so I studied up on brain injuries, stroke victims, and physical and occupational therapy. We had our son do some of the activities and exercises that
I read about.
Jeremy did angels in the snow, jumping jacks, cross crawls, and even just crawling around on the floor.
After Jeremy left public school in fourth grade because of his “disabilities,” we homeschooled him. I worked on his cognitive skills and my husband, Jack, worked on his fine and gross motor skills.
Jeremy returned to school and graduated high school with honors. Always determined, he became a college graduate, and last year earned his doctorate degree in International Business and Marketing. Currently, he is a professor at Florida State College.
Some of the activities I incorporated with Jeremy were Vision Therapy exercises, although at the time I had never heard of Vision Therapy.
Once we helped Jeremy improve his eye-brain-body connection through these exercises, his clumsiness disappeared and he evolved into an excellent student.
I didn’t put it together until I came to work for Dr. Rick Graebe, an optometrist in Versailles who specializes in Vision Therapy. It wasn’t until 20 years later that I understood why my son is now better.