Erica Padilla Saiz can tell you getting her 6-year-old son Nimani ready for this upcoming school year was a long process.
Back in January, she started noticing something just wasn’t right with her son.
“He would come home really looking tired, his eyes looked like he hadn’t gotten any sleep,” Padilla Saiz said. “He would constantly rub rub, [and] he would pull at the corners and roll his eyes as if something was in it.”
She took him in to an eye doctor for a vision screening.
“They told me he had 20/20 vision, but he was struggling with tracking,” Padilla Saiz said. “It affected his self-esteem because he wasn’t keeping up in class.”
That’s part of the reason why she brought him to the Academy for Visual Achievement in Lakewood. It specializes in vision therapy as a treatment process to improve vision function by testing specific skills.
“I’m looking at more than just the eyeballs,” said the Academy’s Behavioral Optometrist, Dr. Rick Morris. “You’re talking about information processing through the eyes, and that’s what we do in our office.”
It's information important to process especially during early childhood development.
“What the students learn in kindergarten and first grade is going to be a predictor for their reading ability later on,” said Rebecca Canges, department chair for Special Education, Early Childhood, and Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education at Metro State University of Denver.
“If the student is more motivated and they’re ready to learn and they actually enjoy learning again, it can completely change their perspective in school,” Canges said.
“The extra testing that we do here is performance testing,” Morris said. “We’re finding out about how you use your eyes to gather information and process information.”
Now students like Nimani are learning to use their eyes to get ready for the first day of class.
“Once we started here, his listening skills improved, his self-esteem has improved,” Padilla Saiz said.