"My daughter was 8 when she suddenly developed near crippling separation anxiety following a bout of strep throat. Entering third grade, a school she was in for 4 years, was a struggle. She would often hide in the car, cry, run away, frequently requiring her teachers/principal to intervene and escort her into school, leaving both of us in tears. It was heart-wrenching and that year/almost 2 years was easily the most difficult time as a mother. Rarely a day went by when Taylor did not beg to be homeschooled, hid in her bed, and was close to non-functional. Her school staff was wonderful, we had a 504 put in place, and we tried supplements, social work and weekly counseling. Some days got better, however there were many stretches when she was very fearful of separating, and many nights of sleeping in our bed, or even months at a time of sleeping in her younger brother’s bed with him for fear of being alone.
During our first session of Bal-A-Vis-X, done in our home with Deb to help with Taylor’s comfort level, some moves were challenging, however, Taylor engaged well. Deb explained everything behind each move, the purpose and therapeutic benefit, and the importance of integrating reflexes to activate areas of the brain that were contributing to Taylor’s emotional difficulties. That night, for the first time in MONTHS, Taylor slept in her own bed. It was like a light was switched on. As our sessions progressed, Taylor’s teachers, school staff, family and friends noticed a huge difference in her affect. Now in 5th grade, Taylor rarely needs her counselor, and seems happy and RELAXED. We still have some days that are a little more challenging, however they are easy to navigate, and we are forever grateful to Deb for introducing us to Bal-A-Vis-X and giving us our HAPPY little girl back. After almost a year and a half of trying just about everything, this program truly was the missing link."
Eye Tracking Remediation with Bal-A-Vis-X
(submitted by, Deborah Wilkinson, RPT as printed in “in an IN2GR8ED World, Joy of Learning through Rhythmic Brain-Body Kinetics, January-March 2016 newsletter)
MaryAnn, a former colleague, is a special education teacher with 16 years experience working with children birth to 3 years, school-aged, children on the autism spectrum, and children with behavioral issues. As a child, she was diagnosed with ‘a left lazy eye.’ She described a combination of wandering outward and upward eye movements with a predominance of inward movement. Her right eye was patched on two separate occasions - at the age of four and again when she entered school. In high school, her doctor told her she could discontinue using her glasses. MaryAnn reported that eye patching was of no benefit, and she learned to rely only on her right eye resulting in her left eye shutting down for functional vision.
MaryAnn began Bal-A-Vis-X in the fall of 2012. Using the VisTAR Ball (vision, tracking and remediation), she was assessed at a 7 (eyes slipped back, darted ahead, reset, and progressed to ocular lock by the end of the assessment). She attended Bal-A-Vis-X sessions weekly for several months progressing to the simultaneous bounce (1 hand controlling 2 balls that bounce at the same time). She had great difficulty and just couldn't move past this particular exercise, achieving only 2 bounces.
I felt intensive vision work might help. We worked daily (5 days a week) on remediation -- 3-minute sessions--with the VisTAR ball. I moved the VisTAR Ball very slowly to ensure teaming of her eyes was occurring at the location in which she initially lost focus. For several days, movement of the VisTAR ball occurred only horizontally then progressed vertically, diagonally, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Following 2 ½ weeks of remediation, the bags and balls were added back into her sessions along with 1 or 2 exercises for homework. Use of the VisTAR ball continued either daily or every other day prior to bags and balls for another few weeks and intermittently thereafter.
The intensive sessions with only the VisTAR ball were of tremendous benefit. On the second session after reintroducing bags and balls, MaryAnn completed 25 simultaneous bounces with her dominant hand and 17 with her non-dominant hand - on the first try! I can only attribute this to the intensive VisTAR remediation sessions.
A few months later, MaryAnn called me following one of our sessions. It was snowing on her way home, and for the first time she saw the snow falling in 3 dimensions. It did not last long, but she was extremely excited!
The Brain Buddy Balance board was incorporated into more of MaryAnn’s sessions without the need to stabilize the tilt factor. Using the board increased her ability to focus without dropping bags or missing balls on her left compared to when standing statically on the floor.
In January 2015, when driving, MaryAnn noticed cars in her left peripheral field of vision which she had not been aware of previously. In March, she saw cars moving past her where previously she only had a brief awareness of a car on her left.
In MaryAnn’s Words
Since we started this (Bal-A-Vis-X), my feelings of fear around depth issues have improved. I used to be more cautious walking, for example, in the woods or on uneven surfaces, and walking up and down stairs. Now I don’t think about it as much. I hated helping my son with baseball practice because I feared catching the ball. I had to stop after a while as I got hit too many times, and baseballs are hard! At first, I was scared when you bounced Bal-A-Vis-X balls to me, and now I’m fine with it. Movement has always been hard. I get nauseous easily. I avoid bikes which I liked as a kid. Car rides always make me woozy, and I never loved swings. These things have gotten worse with age. I always sleep or keep my eyes closed if I’m in the back seat. I’m getting used to seeing things from the sides now, and car rides have actually become a little better, even in the back seat.
"Since first grade, my son was in the extra reading help program because of comprehension issues. Fast forward to 5th grade and given reading glasses, he steadily improved but he would still complain of his eyes being tired and he didn’t enjoy reading. I was introduced to Bal-A-Vis-X by another parent from my son’s school. I figured the initial assessment could not hurt to see if it could help my son’s tired eyes. Once he was assessed, it was then determined that the eyes being tired were only part of the story. I involved my son’s ophthalmologist as a combined effort with Debbie to see where AJ started and what measured improvements could be noted on the next follow up eye exam. The ophthalmologist agreed with the plan and at the next visit there were improvements noted in his eye muscle strength. I could not believe that simple exercises with balls and sand bags could help so much with what we learned was an eye muscle issue and not a comprehension problem after all.
AJ’s school was involved to help provide consistency of the exercises to be continued by the special education teacher every day for 5 minutes. By the end of the school year, we visited the ophthalmologist for our last follow up visit. It was determined that AJ no longer needed to wear glasses to read; his eye muscle strength had improved significantly because of the Bal-A-Vis-X exercise program that was designed specifically for him.
AJ’s progress has continued with reading and now he actually enjoys it! He will be entering 8th grade in fall 2020 and still does not need to wear glasses. Consistency, time and patience provided by Debbie working with AJ at timed intervals to monitor his progress and tweak any areas that were necessary for the continued eye muscle development were so appreciated."