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Making a Difference

February 26, 2009

My Number Three child has made a significant contribution to my source of writing material. That is because she is such a gift to me in so many ways. She is wired much differently than her sisters. It’s not wrong or bad. It is just different, and it will most likely prove to serve her in ways that will make her highly successful.

Her uniqueness has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. I am a better teacher because of her. I am a more flexible parent because of her. I recognize personality traits in others and am less quick to judge that person because of her. She is a gift not only to me, but to the entire world because of the lessons I have learned from her.

Her life is pretty blessed. She had a  normal baby-hood. No traumas during pregnancy or birth. Everything was pretty much routine. Yet even as a toddler,  her personality was much different than the previous two. She smacked her forehead on the coffee table at 2 1/2, which meant a trip to the emergency room and stitches, but she healed.

At four, we began to notice what the older girls called “the cross-eyed thing”. Every so often her right eye would do its own thing. I took her to an optometrist who diagnosed severe far-sightedness (like +5.0) and amblyopia. That was a difficult experience for my daughter because she was so painfully shy at that time she would not (and I now know she could not) respond to his questions as to which image was better. As a result, he used his magic lenses and a flashlight to focus the image on her retina to his satisfaction.

For the next few years, we did the coke-bottle lenses, then contacts at age six, and later back to glasses. All of these had traumatic effects on her. The prescription reduced some over the years, but was still pretty intense. All this time, as she fought having to wear anything, I would check her vision by having her read road signs. The kid could see close up, far off, and everywhere in between just fine. As a nearsighted person who needs correction to see two feet in front of my face, I had a real problem with this. Why would someone even need correction if they could see as well as she could?

That began my search for another answer. By that time, I had accumulated some BrainGym friends who I knew had contacts in the alternative medicine world. (No, BrainGym doesn’t necessarily equal alternative. It just happened to be my source for information.) They referred me to an optometrist in Denver who was doing some different types of therapies. His name is Dr. Stuart Tessler.

I contacted Dr. Tessler with my concerns. He wanted my daughter to see a behavioral optometrist before he saw her, so as to make sure we had all the basic vision issues assessed and addressed before moving forward. He gave me three possible locations, all of which are an eight hour drive from our house. I asked him who would be best able to work with my Number 3 child. Her differentness had by that time taken the form of frozen terror when faced with a stranger pumping her for the answer to the “which is better, one or two….one, two” question. I wasn’t interested in creating more trauma for her. He didn’t hesitate for even a second. He told us Dr. Marisa Kruger would be the one.  

By this time, Number 3 was approaching eight years old, the third grade, and a beast of a state mandated reading test loomed on her horizon. I wasted no time getting her in to see Dr. Kruger. We even went one step further and took the whole family (minus one). That was probably the best experience Number 3 has ever had. Dr. Kruger was extremely patient with her and managed to draw out the necessary information without throwing her into a total frozen meltdown.

Dr. Kruger did a lot of educating that day. I learned so much about what this child was dealing with. She spoke to me from the voice of having lived a big part of what my child was living. Far sighted children have the ability to force focus their eyes, so it appears they can see clearly. The problem is this creates a tremendous amount of of stress that shows up in other areas of their lives, including behavior and academic success. She identified the activity that caused the most stress for Number 3, and prescribed minimum correction to reduce her stress for that activity. It was a pretty radical reduction in correction.

We rocked along through that school year. My daughter passed her test on the first attempt, but it was kind of close. She scored a 75 on reading and an 85 on math. We went back to Dr. Kruger during the summer after third grade and had a checkup. Adjustments were made as needed and then back to the school routine we went.

Fourth grade proved to be downright scary. It is a major leap in expectations for the students. It sees the addition of the state mandated writing test, and the reading requirements jump quite a bit. After a nerve-racking first six weeks, I requested all sorts of intervention possibilities as a means of opening the door to get my daughter some help if things continued like they had begun.

During the process, I also made contact with Dr. Tessler again. I decided to move forward with seeing what he could offer us. We scheduled, and of all things, he sent us a stress evaluation. One night before the trip to Denver, my daughter and I filled out the assessment. I knew she was experiencing lots of stress. I didn’t realize how much EVERYTHING was stressing her out.

He looked over her questionaire, asked me what my concerns were, and then proceeded to discover what was going on with her visual field. I watched the whole process from the sidelines. What he discovered was a child whose eyes worked, but whose brain wasn’t making sense of most of what was in her visual field. My daughter’s blind spot (everyone has them where the optic nerve attaches to the eye) was twice the normal size on the left eye and almost four times normal on the right side. She was only able to clearly identify what she saw in an area slightly larger than the size of a quarter with each eye. She was essentially functioning with tunnel vision. No wonder she was in a constant state of stress. She literally didn’t know what was about to blind-side her every second of every day of her young life.

He then proceded to identify a series of colors that were supportive for her body. He did this using muscle checking similar to what a chiropractor might use. We had experienced muscle checking in some of my early BrainGym classes, so I was very comfortable and confident with the process.

We left Denver with a very simple setup that included a light and some colored overlays. My daughter had been instructed to spend 20 minutes a day in total darkness with only the colored light on. She was to practice relaxed breathing techniques during that time.

The first session at home was extremely painful and traumatic. She was adamant that she didn’t want to do it. I have learned with her that punishment won’t necessarily get the desired outcome, so I have to offer some pretty significant bribes, which I did in the form of riding horses at her uncle’s house after a certain number of sessions had been completed without fuss. It worked.

The process was never an easy one, because it took away from other things she would rather be doing, however, it got easier, and the results were incredible.

After approximately six months and three different color combinations, her final visual assessment showed that her visual field had returned to something close to normal. Her stress self-assessment revealed a child who had mellowed substantially. She went from mostly 4’s and 5’s on the assessment to 0’s, 1’s, and 2’s. Her quarter-sized visual field opened up to the full limits of the testing apparatus. Her blind spots returned to normal size. Her fourth grade TAKS tests were 85 in reading and 95 in math, and she received “commended” status in math and writing. Her shyness decreased radically, and her response to discipline improved noticeably.

A year later, we are facing the fifth grade tests. Math, science, grammar, and spelling continue to be her strong subjects. Reading is still more challenging. However, she is making choices about her success in reading. When she chooses to be successful, she is. She did not have that ability before.

There are a number of things we continue to do to support my daughter’s vision and reduce her stress. We have a fabulous chiropractic neurologist who does some pretty incredible things for her. We own two horses that she rides frequently. We do our best to find sports activities that allow her to run and jump and experience success.

However, I cannot say enough about the work of Dr. Stuart Tessler and Dr. Marisa Kruger. These two people changed my daughter’s destiny in so many ways. I will continue to stay in contact with them and revisit this healing process as needed.

I highly recommend that educators and parents consider what “else” might be going on with a child who has reading challenges. Think outside the box like we did. Do what you have to do to get your child the help he or she needs. Don’t expect the school to fix things for you. They are limited in what they can do. Too many of the traditional and accepted offerings do not produce adequate results. Push your own envelope and go against the grain if you have to. It is worth spending every last penny you have to see your child turn the page on success.

What successful alternative therapies and providers have you found in your search for health and wellness? Let’s build a resource center within this blog.


Dr. Stuart Tessler

Dr. Marisa Atria Kruger

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2009 10:53 AM


    How touching. It brings a tear. Thanks for your kind words. I was happy I could help.

    Give No. 3 a hug for me.
    And, stay in touch.
    Dr. T.

    PS: What a nice resource. You’ve done a really nice job. Life here goes on, still trying to connect with the military for all these poor folks coming back with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury). It took so persistence, and I finally got all the way to Washington, but they’re wanting ‘evidence-based’ research. So now I’m trying to make those connections as well. It’s proving difficult and I’m not making much headway. It’s amazing how many professionals and academics are just NOT interested in anything outside their knowledge base. Where else does innovation come from?? And a neurologist told me I’d have trouble getting professional referrals because, and I quote, “your people get better.” I thought that was the idea!!. He says my success is a threat to them. I just don’t get it.

    Anyway, glad to hear our girl is doing sooooo well. My best to you, and keep up the good work.

  2. February 2, 2010 4:48 PM

    Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here.

    • February 3, 2010 9:02 AM

      Have to admit, you are the first to ask such. I’m not sure about search engines punishing you, but then I’ve never been the queen of search engine optimization. As for the menus, the template I chose lends itself well to that top menu bar. I created a page for each menu item, plus, there is an option to publish the page or not publish it, which is found in the Dashboard, Pages, choose your page, then attributes. You’ll want to choose Main Page (no parent) as the attribute to get it to show up as a menu item. Hope this helps.

  3. March 5, 2010 1:03 PM

    Thank you so much for your nice suggestion.I will give it a try.


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