Labels Are For Cans, Not For Kids: Kat, Age 5
I found Dr. Kaplan through a friend who suggested my daughter Kat might benefit from meeting him. After a full year on the waiting list, Kat finally had the chance to meet with Dr. Kaplan. It was worth the wait although painful to think of the year that passed, and how things might have been different for out family had we seen him sooner. Kat was over 4 years old when she has her initial appointment with Dr. Kaplan. While in a special needs preschool, receiving OT, PT and speech therapies, Kat has no specific diagnosis. The simplest way to describe her was to say something was “off”. She was a very sickly child, in a pattern of almost one week sick, one week healthy. Her energy level was poor, and her disposition difficult. Cognitively she was inconsistent – age appropriate in some areas, and behind in others. Physically she was uncoordinated, imbalanced, and stressed by dynamic environments. She was unwilling/unable to throw, catch, or hit a ball, would pedal a bike a few times, and quit, and would trip, fall and run into things constantly. While socially she was outgoing, she was inappropriate- talking to teachers who were across the room as if they were standing next to her, going from classmate to classmate repeating the same thing to each, etc. Needless to say, a very adept child, study team acknowledged her shortcomings, and placed her in a special needs program. After her first year in the program, her case manger (appropriately or not) informed us that she expected Kat to be in a Special Education program for the foreseeable future. In September, we saw Dr. Kaplan for the first time. Within the first two minutes of the exam, Dr. Kaplan asked Kat to stand on one foot. She attempted to do so as her face grimaced, her hands failed quickly, and she had to put her foot down. Dr. Kaplan put glasses on her, and asked her to try again. She stood like a statue, and I was reduced to tears. The exam continued, converting me into a believer much more quickly than my skeptical husband. Trying to process the immediate and dramatic change in our daughter was challenging- but we saw the results first hand. In fact, my husband went one step beyond, and had Dr. Kaplan test him. My skeptical husband now wears the glasses, plays tennis at a higher level, and is able to read more than two pages of a book before falling asleep. The changes in Kat are almost too far reaching to list as we now can appreciate how challenging her world once was. Her digesting issues, her low energy levels, her difficult temperament, and her chronic health problems have all disappeared. Never would I have imagined her visual function would be related to all of these seeming tangential characteristics. Looking back, it all makes sense. When someone is tense as a result of their not feeling visually stable, their body is exhausted trying to compensate thereby causing many physiological issues. Cognitively, Kat has shown tremendous progress as well. She has quickly learned her letter sounds, can count, and can reason- all contributing to her being placed in a mainstream preschool for a few days each week. She also has grown physically. She now initiates throwing, and catching, can sustain herself on a bicycle for an extended period, and has even learned to write. We have worked hard with her over the past few months - never missing her prescribed vision therapy exercises that we do at home each day. While it would be difficult for Kat to comprehend the reason for her glasses and her exercises, she knows how she feels. She never takes her glasses off and works hard at her exercises. She clearly feels better wearing her glasses. At her most recent IEP meeting, one teacher described her as “the happiest child she has ever met.” And she is right. Kat’s life and our family’s life has been changed forever thanks to Dr. Kaplan and his wonderful staff.
Life Without Depth Perception: Tori, Age 7
Dr. Kaplan has changed our daughter’s life so much that we’re often considered erecting a life size statute of him to adorn our Living Room. Seriously, our daughter’s depth perception issues seemed insurmountable until we heard about Dr. Kaplan’s book, Seeing Through New Eyes. No amount of OT or PT could have solved her issues since she not see the world in the same way as us. Her brain used to see an average stair as a mountain to climb, or fall off of. Climbing a playground structure was not a possibility because she was so scared. She could not navigate a supermarket where there were big aisles, and white floors without holding onto a grown up for dear life. Life seemed like a scary roller coaster ride for her before prism lenses and vision therapy. Our daughter can now navigate stairs, play on structures, and navigate in markets like every other kid. It’s been several years of hard work and dedication. She’s really our hero because she works so hard.
Children Who Kiss Their Glasses Goodnight: Matt, Age 9
Dr. Kaplan was gentle and very patient with our son. The staff is very accommodating, and flexible. From day one, our son refused to take off the prism lenses. I saw his body quiet down during the evaluation. He really wanted to wear the lenses, and couldn’t wait until the day we picked them up. The first day that we received the glasses, I had a hard time convincing him to take them off when it was ready for bed.
Our son has benefited greatly from vision therapy. He has made a lot of progress since he started working with Dr. Kaplan. It is no longer difficult for him to go down hallways and stairs. He looks forward to going to Dr. Kaplan’s office, and that by itself is an indication that he is enjoying the therapy, and that he knows that the therapy is helping him.
What's Vision Got to Do With Language and Social Ability?: Will, Age 13
We firmly believe the emphasis on incorporating verbal responses as part of the exercises have had a very positive impact. Obviously, there are a lot of factors involved but we do see an increased ability in his ability to focus on verbal responses. Last year you indicated that his exercises would help alleviate his fears of dogs, elevator’s and Lowe’s. This year we can go anywhere in Lowe’s, dogs unless they are aggressive seldom bother him and he will go on any elevator now. Now this year you suggested we would be working on conversation.
You wouldn’t believe Will’s performance at Anna’s family birthday party last week.
The day of the party, Will got here first and went to his room to play but did ask Nancy to tell him when the rest of them got here. Nancy called him when they got here and amidst all of the hub bub of greetings, Will came out with arms crossed and “Hi Uncle Tommy how are you today?” Tom said good how are you and Will answered good. Then Will asked Uncle Tommy what he had been doing today? Uncle Tommy answered and asked Will what he had been doing. Will said he had been to Lowe’s and he had seen a dog. Uncle Tommy then asked him what he had bought at Lowe’s and he answered tools. Will left and came back in about 5 minutes again with his arms crossed and said to Uncle Tommy, “where did you go on vacation”. When Tommy didn’t know he was the one that should ask Will about his vacation I told him to ask Will. With some back and forth Will told him they had stayed at Atlanta, Savanah and Jekyll Island, what they had done at each place including the hotels and floors they had stayed on. He really wanted to have the conversation.
Later in the pool he heard aunt Shelli say she had to go to Meijers when they went home and he asked her when, what she would buy, how long she would be and when she would get back home. All this was totally unrehearsed. Later in the family room Brady was playing our slot machine and Will said let’s clap when Brady gets a hit and basically led the group in his made up game for about 5 minutes.
You can imagine how happy we were for Will. For the first time ever he was an active participant in a family event and he obviously enjoyed every minute of his interactions. Tommy called Nancy the next day and told her how amazed they were in the difference in Will since Katie’s birthday party in March.
Three other show stoppers in the last week:
In Lexington saw a building going up about a block over from the road we were on and said “What are they building over there?” A first for us. Before we could have driven straight through a construction site and if he noticed it we wouldn’t have known.
We have a new restaurant in Georgetown and to reward him for being so good at the party etc., we said we could have lunch there on our way home from Lexington. He said, “good”, but about 5 minutes later he said let’s wait till Saturday night. Another first, his choosing delayed reinforcement. We went to Rooster’s on Saturday night.
Will hurt his back falling back on an exercise ball. Stayed in bed most of the morning and said “my back is healing today”. He hears and uses words he has never been formally taught.
Looking forward to the next set of exercises
Neuroplasticity & The Ever-Changing Brain: Adam, Age 19
Adam is talking much more. He is building simple sentences. He is requesting more, he is commenting more and becomes easier to find out what is going on. He is still struggling with word finding, but he is making constant progress.
Adam is noticing more and more of his environment. He notices wild berries and wild raspberries in the woods, stops, points to them and wants us to get them for him. He even started to get them himself. He has never done this before. He was just not seeing them. I suspect that he also begins to notice petals, but it is not confirmed yet.
Adam is managing stimuli better now. We have a cottage in the woods which he loves, but after 20 minutes of being there he would escape into the car, had to sit there for about 20 minutes, then came out, was active for a moment and went back inside the car. There was a pattern in his behaviour. Going inside the car seemed to be his regrouping strategy in order to be ready for more stimuli. He is not doing that anymore. We spent couple of days in our cottage lately and he never went into the car.
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