[Editor’s note and disclaimer: This is another in an occasional series of guest blogs from a variety of AceReader users. The content came from an interview conducted by Miriam Ruff, and it has been edited somewhat for length and fluency.]
MR: What is your reading background (i.e. schooling, specialty, personal reading habits)?
DB: I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan and a Doctor of Optometry degree from Illinois College of Optometry. I also have special training in Pediatric Vision Care and Vision Rehabilitation. I own and operate a private optometry practice in Carlsbad, California where I provide care for patients of all ages from infants to seniors.
A part of the practice is dedicated to helping students who are behind in their reading skills and those who have dyslexia. I also own and operate Reading Without Limits, Inc., a reading company run by doctors. I formed the company because, psychologically speaking, parents feel more comfortable taking their child to reading company run by doctors then they do taking them to an eye doctor who treats reading problems. I have designed a diagnosis and treatment protocol to discover the root cause(s) of reading problems in poor readers, and the program is for all those students who have not responded to traditional reading programs. By using a specific analytic approach, students improve their reading skills incredibly fast. This includes improvements in word recognition, fluency, comprehension, reading speed, and even spelling. My program helps students learn to read, improve their reading skills, and even reverse dyslexia.
MR: Can you tell us a little bit about what you do professionally and what interested you about this field?
DB: I became interested in reading disorders because my training didn’t provide the means to help students achieve their goals. Vision training helps students improve their visual skills, but it does not improve how they process visual information as it applies to the process of reading. Parents want solutions to help their child achieve academic success, and they want their child to be able to read better. After trying to train students with reading problems, I found that their eyes got stronger, but they didn’t read better. This is analogous to having a swimmer work out at the gym to strengthen his arms and legs, and then expecting he will swim better as a result, when in reality the swimmer cannot truly get better until he practices his strokes. It takes strength and technique to become proficient. Likewise, poor readers need a mix of vision drills and reading drills to become proficient readers. It’s a process that I call “Visual Cross Training.”
MR: Where did you hear about AceReader?
DB: I found out about AceReader through the internet. I was searching for a method/instrument by which to flash letter and number symbols. AceReader provides a convenient and high-tech way to accomplish this. The flash mechanism is a key factor in contributing to successful reprogramming of how the brain processes visual information.
MR: What were your expectations for the program? Has it met them? Have those expectations changed over time? If so, how?
DB: The AceReader software has been an effective tool to create a variety of drills needed to improve reading ability and reverse dyslexia. The versatility of the Reading Mode has allowed me to develop customized treatment plans and manipulate various parameters needed to correct the multiple factors that are limiting reading ability.
MR: So, can you customize the program adequately for your different patients? How do you customize it?
DB: Patients are given a four-phase evaluation to determine which auditory, visual, and cognitive factors are limiting reading ability. The two biggest problems with reading difficulty are word recognition and tracking. Drills are designed to allow immediate word recognition. Many readers are impaired by spending too much time fixating and determining the words. The patients are shown a new way to identify words that doesn’t use phonics or sight reading. Then, the readers are taught to jump their eyes from word to word properly. This process can be compared to an athlete running and jumping hurdles. The runner needs to run and jump the hurdles without tripping. Likewise, readers need to track and land on the words with proper speed, accuracy, and efficiency. Starting, stopping, and jumping eye movements are optimized using custom drills offered in the Reading Mode.
MR: How much time per day/week do your patients spend using the program? What types of results have you seen in the patients using AceReader?
DB: My patients are assigned 15-20 minutes of drills per day. Most patients can read proficiently at grade level or above in 3 months. They also can read 2-4x faster than they did before they started my Reading Without Limits program. Keep in mind that my program includes vision drills combined with reading drills to get results quickly.
MR: Do you find the levels helpful?
DB: The different levels available provide a better way to gauge changes in performance. Also, the custom levels allow extensions of upper and lower limits for readers that score beyond the standard levels.
MR: Which part(s) of the program have you found the most helpful? Why?
DB: The Eye-trainer drill in the Reading Mode has been the most useful portion of the program. I use this mode to teach the reader how to track accurately and build reading speed. By controlling the scrolling word-count and reading speed, I can reducing backward eye movements and incrementally increase flash word recognition times.
MR: What feature(s) do you like most about the program? Why?
DB: The features I find most useful are the ones that build individual eye movement skills such as better fixations, reduced backward eye movements, larger spans of recognition, increased speed of recognition, and overall reading speed. This includes the Eye-Span Game, the Flash and Recall Game, the Search and Scan Game, and Eye-trainer. I find these features contribute to the quickest improvement in reading skills when applied in the proper sequence. I evaluate the above skills at the outset of training and then design a custom program to optimize these skills in the minimum amount of time. Keep in mind, I use a series of drills that are not offered in the AceReader program but can be created using the platform.
MR: Have you used any other reading efficiency program? If so, how would you compare it to AceReader?
DB: I have used Taylor Associates Reading Plus in the past. It uses a guided window method to control eye movement. However, this method doesn’t control eye movements as well as AceReader. The flash presentation of words used in AceReader is more productive at reducing backward eye movements and increasing the span of recognition (groups of words seen in one fixation).
MR: Great information. Thanks so much for sharing your time and your expertise with our readers.