Ben Burgess of Georgetown is a bright, healthy, well-coordinated 14-year-old who loves to be outdoors.
Books, not so much. At least that was the old Ben, the Ben of a year ago.
Homeschooled by his mother, Sarah, Ben always struggled with reading.
The diagnosis? Dyslexia. Plus, impulsivity and attention issues, math difficulties and poor handwriting.
“Reading was such a struggle for him,” Sarah said. “By the time he had decoded a sentence, he had no energy left for comprehension. He was using all his brain power just to decode the words.”
Sarah and her husband, Tom, explored many educational methods until a friend recommended Vision Therapy and Dr. Rick Graebe, a behavioral optometrist in Versailles. Two years ago, Sarah took Ben for an evaluation.
“The exam was thorough and they gave us great information about Ben’s situation,” Sarah said. “Dr. Graebe is a wealth of information.”
But with four boys to homeschool and cost considerations, the family postponed treatment. A year passed and Ben’s struggles only worsened. Sarah and Tom were of the same mind.
“If Vision Therapy helps, it will change Ben’s life in so many ways. We had to try,” she said.
After Ben accepted the commitment as well – once-a-week appointments for 30 weeks with work at home – the treatment began.
“I have to say the staff was phenomenal. They were so clear,” Sarah said. “They explained that they were resetting his brain pathways and that once his eyes, brain and body were re-trained, he would never lose it.”
Perhaps because he too was tired of struggling, Ben really put in the work. Soon after treatment began, he needed no prompting to perform his tasks at home.
And the results were dramatic.
His handwriting and math skills improved. Attention and impulsivity were less of a problem, and his reading and comprehension improvement were “off the charts,” according to Sarah.
He even started voluntarily writing a page a day, something unthinkable a year ago. Ben said he will even miss the weekly trips to Dr. Graebe’s office.
“If you asked me now, ‘Is Ben dyslexic?’” Sarah said. “I don’t know now if I would say yes.”
How’s that for a turnaround?
Photo: Ben Burgess and VT therapist Jennifer Ciecorka