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Success Stories, Processing Disorders

She Struggled with Words; Now Plans to Become a Writer

Mind-Eye Institute Testing Determines Cause of Her Reading Problems

Riley McGeever, now 15 years old and a first-year high school student, is an avid reader who wants to become a writer. But that was not always the case. In fact, until fourth grade, Riley, formerly of Grayslake, Ill. and now residing with family in Florida, battled anxiety and lack of confidence because she struggled with words and reading. And no one seemed able to determine what her mother, Diedra, calls “the root cause of my daughter’s problem.”

She and husband, Sean, had Riley evaluated in every way possible, including standard eye exams. “We wanted to find out if her eyes were simply not functioning properly and preventing her from seeing words correctly, but tests showed her eyesight was normal,” Diedra says. “Her school even developed an IEP (individualized education plan) for Riley but that did not appear to be the answer either. Riley has always been highly intelligent but, for some reason, was experiencing learning gaps. Her problem was much like Swiss cheese; she had holes in her capabilities. We just could not find the missing pieces. We were exhausting every possibility.”

Riley’s academic turnaround came when a friend told Riley’s mother, Diedra, about the Mind-Eye Institute in the north Chicago suburb of Northbrook. “Is this place for real?” Diedra recalls being highly skeptical at the time. “We already had Riley’s eyes checked. What more could the Mind-Eye do?” But Diedra and Sean were “out of options,” and they were desperate to find “tools that would help our daughter learn and become successful.” They decided to contact the Mind-Eye and make an appointment.

Riley underwent extensive Mind-Eye testing, which Diedra says, “left me speechless, blown away.” Results indicated Riley’s brain was not controlling her two eyes equally, favoring her right eye and making it difficult for Riley to aim her eyesight at targets and shift her gaze comfortably.

“Dr. Zelinsky prescribed some individualized activities for Riley to develop visual skills that were lacking,” says Diedra, referring to Deborah Zelinsky, OD, founder and executive research director of the Mind-Eye Institute. “Riley did the learning activities for about eight weeks, then, suddenly, boom, everything began to click – her reading, her writing. She started making huge progress in school. Her anxiety lessened, and she became far more confident. She was a completely different child.”

Riley agrees. “I really thought something was wrong with me [in elementary school],” she recalls. “I was unable to read, and that made me upset with myself. I struggled with words, and when teachers called on me in the classroom, I would be embarrassed. I thought, ‘Here I am in fourth grade, and I cannot read.’”

She says the Mind-Eye team has helped me “connect the dots. I have come a long way [in my learning]. Reading for me has become such an amazing gift.”

The Mind-Eye Institute has achieved worldwide recognition for its use of therapeutic eyeglasses, lenses, prisms, filters, and other optometric methods to vary the amount, intensity and angle of light that passes through the retina. The retina is part of the central nervous system and a primary portal through which information enters the brain in the form of light-generated electrical signals.

“By manipulating light, we are often able to lessen symptoms and restore comfort to patients needing to rebuild visual processing skills compromised by brain injury, head trauma, stroke, and other neurological disorders,” says Dr. Zelinsky. “Our unique optometric testing, approaches, and advanced visual skill building also help in developing new processing capabilities in patients with attention and other learning deficiencies.”

She adds, “Children who have trouble developing basic reading skills, cannot remember what they are reading or what is read to them, fumble when reading aloud, unnecessarily fidget, or exhibit difficulties focusing and concentrating may require more than a standard eye examination. They might have underdeveloped visual skills. Perhaps, their central and peripheral eyesight are not interacting appropriately and/or their eyesight and listening abilities are uncoordinated, sensory signals on the right aren’t matching those entering from the left side, or they have trouble visualizing.”

Visual processing skills are essential to all aspects of learning – for both children and adults, she emphasizes. The term “visual processing” refers to the brain’s almost-instantaneous ability – consciously and non-consciously – to take in external sensory signals (from eyesight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), combine them with a person’s internal sensory signals (such as head position and muscle tension) and then synthesize – process — the information, allowing a person to react and respond normally to his or her environment.

“If brain circuitry is out of sync because it is simply under-developed or disrupted by injury or disease, people can become confused about their surrounding environment, have limited perception and awareness, and experience difficulties in learning,” Dr. Zelinsky explains.

“The problem that Dr. Zelinsky diagnosed in Riley could not have been discovered through a standard eye test,’ Diedra emphasizes. “My early skepticism about the Mind-Eye quickly turned to amazement [during Riley’s first appointment]. Now, I want to share my story with other parents who have children with learning challenges. I want to tell them about what the Mind-Eye Institute has done for our family.”