Learning Disorders

Solutions for patients who struggle with traditional educational methods

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) estimates that between 8 and 10 percent of all children under 18 years of age live with one or more kinds of learning deficits.

What Are Learning Disorders

Learning disabilities are defined as neuro-processing disorders that impact use or understanding of language, speech, writing, computation, organizational skills, memory, abstract reasoning and concentration. These learning challenges oftentimes remain lifelong problems, affecting a child’s developmental capabilities and social interactions and an adult’s interpersonal relationships and functioning within the workplace.

Most recognized examples of such disabilities are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders, described elsewhere on this website, but they are not the only ones. Experts detail a variety of other learning challenges.

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Signs and Symptoms

Most recognized examples of such disabilities are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders, described elsewhere on this web site, but they are not the only ones. Experts detail a variety of other learning issues, including:


  • Auditory processing disorder, the failure to process and interpret sound normally

  • Dyslexia and dysgraphia. Dysgraphia affects spelling, composition and the fine motor skills required to write legibly. Dyslexia hinders reading, reading comprehension and language processing.

  • Language-processing disorder

  • Visual perceptual and visual motor deficit, which can result in eye-hand coordination problems and inability to recognize specific and subtle differences in letters and other shapes.

Standard Therapies

The most common form of treatment is special education, dependent upon diagnostic and educational assessment of a child’s learning and intellectual potential. Speech, language and psychological therapy, as well as medications, also may be included in a learning-disabled child’s plan of care.

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Case Studies

From age 3 on, Mikayla had followed an individualized education program, which included occupational and physical therapy.  She struggled in elementary school, finding it difficult to concentrate and complete her work.  Teachers complained she failed to pay attention, did not listen in school.  She even seemed uncoordinated while walking, tripping over her own feet and bumping into things.  Doctors checked Mikayla but found nothing unusual.  Her central eyesight was evaluated as a normal 20/20 in each eye.

But all that changed for Mikayla – for the better – at age 12 when her mother’s friend suggested a visit to the Mind-Eye Institute.  There, Mikayla underwent a battery of tests that determined she had such a narrow range of visual awareness, she could only see what was directly in front of her. She had problems using her peripheral eyesight, causing her brain to limit its focus.  “She could either look up and listen to the teacher in school or write and take notes, but she couldn’t do both,” her mother said.

The Mind-Eye Institute prescribed a set of special, therapeutic “brain” glasses, designed for sensory integration and able to bring relief to patients like Mikayla for a range of symptoms caused by eye-ear imbalances, brain injuries and other neurological issues, including learning problems.

As her eyesight improved, Mikayla went through several different sets of “brain” glasses, while being transformed from a student criticized by teachers for lack of concentration and focus to an honor-roll student, early high-school graduate and, eventually, by age 19, a certified veterinarian technician and “happy, productive member of the community.”

At the Mind-Eye Institute

We are aware that learning disabilities are the result of processing deviations in different areas of the brain. Indeed, some of these learning issues arise from difficult-to-treat anatomical, neurochemical, heredity-based or other physical and physiological brain disorders. Sometimes, however, learning difficulties are simply the by-products of dysfunctional vision and auditory systems, and these dysfunctions can change and transform into new skills.

In fact, lack of synchronization between a person’s visual, auditory and motor systems can significantly impact chemical balance and nerve pathways in the brain. For that reason, patients diagnosed as “learning disabled” undergo thorough examination at the Mind-Eye Institute. Evaluation involves advanced neuro-optometric technology and testing techniques to measure visual performance and visual processing functions and determine imbalances. With this information, Institute experts consider how light passing through the retina can be manipulated to positively impact patient brain function, nervous systems and body chemistry.

By using prescriptive eyeglasses individually designed to alter the way light enters the eye, Deborah Zelinsky O.D. has helped many patients overcome learning and behavioral disorders. Some of these patients have later transferred out of special education programs for placement in regular classrooms and exhibited normal and, in occasional cases, gifted intellectual potential.

Specifically, our team offers patients prescriptive eyeglasses, contact lenses or other optometric interventions that selectively stimulate light dispersed on the retina, which is composed of brain tissue. Individualized lenses can:


  • Maximize patients’ visual performance and visual processing capabilities and create a stable balance between auditory and visual localization.

  • Improve patient perception of the surrounding environment in order to modify behavior and enhance communication skills.

  • Help rebuild brain pathways or develop new pathways that enhance a patient’s ability to learn, understand and interact normally with others.

Getting In Touch With Us

To find out the next steps of registering as a patient or registering a child as a patient, please call the Mind•Eye Institute office at 847.501.2020 or you can fill out our online New Patient Inquiry Form on the right.

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'Dr. Zelinsky Is Renowned'

~ Norman Doidge, M.D. & Clark Elliott, Ph.D., Dr. Patrick Quaid and Patricia S. Lemer praise her accomplishments:

"Zelinsky fit Elliott with a series of eyeglasses designed to improve the perceptual damage that made his life so difficult... Getting fitted for Zelinsky's eyeglasses is like no eye appointment you've ever had... Now, Elliott says, he is almost entirely symptom-free, able to problem-solve, multi-task and find his way easily — all abilities he lost in the auto accident in 1999. When he put on his Phase VI glasses he felt something that he hadn't felt for years: "I felt normal."

Review: 'The Ghost in My Brain'
- The Chicago Tribune

"One brilliant Chicago-area optometrist I know, Deborah Zelinsky OD, FNORA, FCOVD, has developed a unique, patented, easy-to-administer evaluation called the Z-Bell Test. This test measures the efficiency of integration between visual processing and listening....A 2014 study at Vanderbilt University found that children with autism do not synchronize their seeing and hearing...I have watched Dr. Zelinsky administer this test to disbelieving colleagues, who were astounded by its accuracy and results...Over the past two decades, The Z-Bell Test has become internationally recognized by the scientific community.”

- Patricia S. Lemer, Licensed Profesional Counselor (LPC)

"I visited Dr. Zelinsky, and she showed me how she can use optical lenses to alter sensory filtering, by directing light to different retinal cells and brain circuits. This can influence activity in the brain and the hypothalamus to better regulate body chemistry, sensory integration, and even some auditory processing. [Dr. Zelinsky] works frequently with patients working with learning and cognitive disorders as well as TBIs."

- Norman Doidge, M.D.

"I was delighted to have Dr. Zelinsky personally contribute to the book. Her wealth of knowledge in the area of visual development and visual processing is widely known, not just through her contribution of eye-care to the author of “The Ghost in My Brain”, but also via her Mind-Eye Institute and the lectures and training their provide. Dr. Zelinsky is not just colleague and a friend, but also a valued member of the neuro-optometric community and an invaluable bridge to other allied professions treating brain injuries. Her contribution to the book is deeply appreciated."

- Dr. Patrick Quaid, MCOptom, FCOVD, PhD

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