Thursday, December 4, 2008
The Little Blue Plastic Thingy
On my list of things to be thankful for, I listed the "Little blue plastic thingy that's helping #3 read". Some of you asked for clarification (two of you really, but who's counting?), so here it is at long last the explanation.
#3 has trouble reading. It's not that he's unintelligent, it's that he can't see the words. We've had him evaluated and tested and been told that he is well below grade level on everything that requires visual input.
In desperation, I called and talked to the head of the Educational Psychology Dept. at the University of Oklahoma last month. We talked for over an hour, God bless her for her patience, and she offered to do further testing but said that it sounded like a focusing problem to her. If we would do some simple things, she said, we would be able to help him ourselves.
The most common type of focusing problem in children his age is where their eyes get confused by the contract between the white of the page and the black of the letters. The extreme contrast between the two overwhelms their eyes. Either the letter start to move or their eyes lock onto the white of the page rather than the black of the letters. If you make the color values of the two closer to each other, the theory goes, then it is less stimulating for the eye and it helps.
I was very skeptical, but willing to try anything that might actually help him. We bought blue plastic sheets used for overhead projectors and laid them over the page of the reading book. It was as if someone had turned on a switch inside of his head. By the end of the week, he as reading two and three letter words. By the next week, he was reading two letter words by sight and the three letter ones more quickly. We are printing out his math problems in blue ink on blue paper, and that helps tremendously. It is school without tears and with less frustration.
I don't know if it is the actual plastic which helps him, or if it is like the "Magic Feather" for Dumbo (if you hold this you can fly), but it seems to help him. His eyes are now looking at the dark of the letters. He can read thanks to a little piece of blue plastic and some good advice.