“All therapists are there for the children’s best interest. It’s obvious to see. They have no other motives but that.” —Emma Milliken, Josh’s mom
In Fall of 2010, Emma Milliken experienced something that many parents do. Her son’s kindergarten teachers told her and her husband that their son, Josh, struggled to follow directions, write and pay attention. Josh’s teachers suggested they take him to the doctor to be evaluated and possibly put on ADHD medication.
As motivated parents and natives of England, the Millikens felt skeptical about this route for their child.
"American culture is to ‘go to the doctor and get drugs,' but that is not our way,” Emma said.
While researching other options and talking with other parents, Emma became aware of Vision Therapy and its amazing results. Emma opted for this route; first taking Josh for a Vision Therapy evaluation at another site. She also decided to have Josh evaluated by A Chance To Grow’s Audiologist, Dr. Sara Cook. During Josh’s evaluation with Cook, Emma asked about the difference between A Chance To Grow’s Vision Therapy program and the other program where Josh had received an evaluation.
“Vision Therapy at A Chance To Grow is very child-specific rather than a formal, ‘cookie cutter’ program that you will see at most other places,” Cook said.
Recognizing this and the convenience of having all her son’s needs met under one roof, Emma had Josh assessed for Vision Therapy at A Chance To Grow. After the exam, The A Chance To Grow optometrists concluded that Josh had unintegrated primitive reflexes and suggested Occupational Therapy. While Vision Therapy was an option, it was likely the desired results would not occur without first working on Josh’s primitive reflexes. Impressed with the honesty of A Chance To Grow’s staff and motivated to do everything she could to help her son, Emma took Josh to see Julie Neumann, A Chance To Grow Occupational Therapist. Neumann informed her that Josh’s left and right brain were only integrated 20%. In January 2012, Josh began working with Neumann.
“Watching my son work so hard and struggle with such basic things has been a humbling and challenging experience for me,” Emma said.
Seeing the hurdles ahead, Emma and her husband chose to pull Josh from school to concentrate on getting him on track for the following year. After about eight months of vigorous OT work with Neumann, Auditory Therapy with Dr. Sara Cook and intense reflex work at home, Josh returned to school.
“The teacher told me that Josh is a completely different child,” Emma said with tears in her eyes.
Josh’s teacher even asks him questions like, “Remember when we did this same assignment last year?” And he’ll respond, “Yes, but that was when my eyes weren’t working.”
Extremely happy with her family’s experience at A Chance To Grow, Emma has now placed Josh in EEG Biofeedback with Neurotechnology Director Becky Aish, and he is set to finish his OT work with Neumann in December!
“He’s confident and happily on the same level as his peers,” Emma said. “My heart goes out to parents who don’t realize ACTG is here. All therapists work for the child’s best interest. It’s obvious to see. They have no other motives but that. This program here is amazing and more people should know about it. Josh can feel the difference A Chance To Grow has made within himself.”
Thea entered first grade just after her seventh birthday. She was very excited about learning to read. Her parents had no reason to believe that she would have any trouble learning since she had flourished both academically and socially in kindergarten. Her accomplishments up to this point were astounding.
She was born prematurely and required oxygen and intravenous nutrition during her first three years of life. Early in her infancy, doctors said she was both blind and deaf. Later, she was properly diagnosed with dyspraxia and learned to communicate through sign language. She began speaking by her third year and each passing day she became closer and closer to being “on track” developmentally. When she entered school at the age of six, Thea seemed to be a perfectly normal kindergartner. Then came the first grade.
At the first parent-teacher conference, Thea’s teacher informed her parents that there were signs of serious trouble. Thea was exhibiting learning, behavioral and attention problems. The problems were so significant her teacher did not know where one started and the other left off. Her parents were devastated. Even worse, Thea was very upset and became frustrated as she kept falling behind the other students. Her medical team and school began testing.
The test results indicated that Thea also had dyslexia and her frustration was creating the behavior problems. She was eventually placed on an individual education plan while beginning special education and occupational therapy in school in school. At this time, Thea’s mother happened to attend a lecture by Carol Kranowitz, author of The Out of Sync Child. The free lecture was held at A Chance To Grow (ACTG). She had never heard of the organization and decided to take a tour after the lecture. “I was so impressed,” commented Paula. “The very next week I scheduled an appointment for Thea at ACTG’s vision department.
Thea received a complete eye exam and then a developmental evaluation in order to identify visual integration problems. The results clearly indicated that Thea had difficulty processing visual material. Thea’s parents decided to enroll her in ACTG’s vision therapy program.
She received individual vision therapy throughout the following summer and during the first several weeks of second grade. Paula recalls, “The staff that worked with Thea were incredible! They bonded with her and were able to bring out the best in her in a very nurturing way. She began to happily look forward to her vision therapy. Her gains were becoming more evident and each accomplishment of hers was celebrated along the way.” Despite Thea’s gains, her mother witnessed something even more amazing.
Thea, who had struggled to print her name legibly, began writing short stories for everyone to enjoy! Here was a young girl who had struggled to read the simplest of primers, who began checking out chapter books from the library. As the new school year progressed, Thea was up to grade level work in all areas. “Her special education teacher told us that it was a special, but rare treat to release a young student from special education during the elementary years”, remarked Paula. “The teacher told us that it is incredibly rare to have such a young child make as much progress as Thea had done in such a short amount of time.” It was clear that the vision therapy played a major role in her success.
Her mother concluded by saying, “We are all so proud of Thea and so thankful for the people at A Chance To Grow. They have helped her become the audaciously, securely intelligent child that she is!”
Justin the Superstar! Before visiting A Chance To Grow, Justin would hesitate in the middle of words when trying to speak, which made it hard for anyone else to understand him. In first grade, he didn’t know all of his sounds and reading and writing frustrated him.
In October of his first grade year, Justin was falling behind and began to hate school. He felt he was stupid. It brought tears to his mother’s eyes. In November of that year, she attended the S.M.A.R.T. Workshop and met Cheryl Smythe, Assistant Director of the Minnesota Learning Resource Center (MLRC). Cheryl encouraged her to have his vision and auditory processing skills tested at A Chance To Grow.
The testing told her he was below age level in much of his developmental vision, so she started doing boost up (S.M.A.R.T.) activities at home with him. He worked really hard on Creeping, Crawling, Spinning and Rolling, enabling him to move onto vision therapy activities. His mother also started him on the Hemispheric Specific Auditory Stimulation (HSAS) (now JIAS) program at A Chance To Grow to help with his auditory processing. Within three weeks of starting HSAS, Justin was able to sing all the words at his Christmas program on beat and with the other children-- something he hadn’t been able to do before. WOW! First grade was a struggle, but Justin had made it through.
When second grade started, the school tested him at a pre-primer reading level. Him and his mother continued to work on his vision and auditory issues. He showed real strength in math and by the end of second grade he was at a 1.7 reading level. This was almost an improvement of two grades!
By the end of his second grade school year, Justin was done with vision therapy and was put onto maintenance for the HSAS program. By this point, Justin’s articulation had improved so much that many people didn’t know he even had an articulation delay.
In third grade, he was still struggling with writing and still behind in reading. He received Title 1 services and worked hard at home. Justin did score ‘proficient’ on the Wisconsin state reading test that March, but things still didn’t seem quite right. He was having a hard time following along and keeping up in the classroom.
A Chance To Grow checked his ears again and found he had regressed on his auditory processing skills. After also having his reflexes checked by Dr. Moroz at A Chance To Grow Vision Services, it was found that he still had some primitive reflexes interfering with his ability to write and maintain the progress he had made in some of his prior therapy. Within weeks of starting the reflex therapy at home, he commented on how much “easier” writing was. Then, when given the choice to read, write or do math (his favorite), he chose writing. He wrote three stories that summer. This was great for a child who at one time had a hard time writing one word!
Justin, you are a superstar!