Clinical experience shows that almost all learning problems have treatable causes. Think about it this way:

A MIND EXPERIMENT: If you have a leaky tub that you’re trying to fill with water, what do you want to do first, fix the leaks or keep pouring in water?

Is there any real question there?

Yet, how do schools approach the average learning problem? The most common method is to spend more time teaching. That just uses up a lot of water.

Over 40 years ago, researchers at the Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh designed and tested a therapeutic program. Their results and data were dramatic: the new skills quickly transferred into academic skills. It still works to this day, and more rapidly than one could hope for.  It has found almost no followers in the classroom nor neuroeducation: teachers make marvelous classroom managers and instructors, however, they are not taught nor expected to know how children learn.

This researched program is called the Perceptual Skills Curriculum and it forms the core of the “S-O-S” remedial program used here at The Learning Clinic. No other approach talks about success rates. We can, because we are identifying and curing the problem, not the symptoms of the problem. Ours is a proven clinical approach, based in the actual neurophysiology of the brain; it is not a tutoring program.


Children with learning difficulties have processing—thinking—barriers. They are what we call “dysperceptive.” This is part of the “leaky” process. Some of what they do can be brilliant, but the rest may be confused and inconsistent. Children with these visual, auditory, and motor (muscle) perceptual performance problems have troubles: trouble understanding instructions; decoding words; mistaking similar words; and read with poor comprehension (but will do well with material that is read to them).


  • VISUAL: a comprehensive visual analysis is conducted. This is beyond the routine visual exam. Brains overburdened with aiming, focusing, scanning, and tracking activities will be inefficient. Poor visual abilities frequently result in rapid tiring and a child who resists reading.
  • VISUAL-MOTOR: can the student spatially analyze what (s)he is seeing and put it back together? The ability to do this easily ties in with math, writing, reading, and spelling of sight words.
  • AUDITORY-MOTOR: can the student sequence sounds & words and analyze them for their similarities and difference? This ties in with comprehending directions, reading, spelling of phonetic words and language arts.
  • MOTOR SKILLS: motor planning and movement, and neurological integrity are sampled by these tests. Writing.
  • INTEGRATIVE ABILITIES: the ability to smoothly interrelate information between the data input streams used for learning.


Visual therapy for ocular movement problems and miniprisms to addess a newly identified issue called Textual Visual Aliasing can result in astonishing changes in reading and comprehension ability.

Perceptual therapy for learning skill deficiencies – we call it dysperception – will be done in the office and at home, aimed at the valleys in performance, while simple classroom accommodations help the child in school until the skills change. Emotional symptoms and acting-out behaviors frequently are lessened or disappear as performance anxiety is lessened and social perceptions are improved.

The program generally takes six months, give or take three (visual problems take less time, auditory problems often take longer). Office therapy is frequently discontinued in 12-18 weeks. The success rate averages >70% in 12 weeks, and >80% in 24 weeks – see the parents’ reports here on our website and in the office lobby.

[NOTE: Some children with more involved developmental disorders like Asperger’s, Autism, Hyperlexia, and other PDD-spectrum disorders have been seen to benefit greatly from the TLC program. It may take as long as one to two years— “the only thing we’ve tried that’s worked,” one mom just said, after 12 weeks of therapy.]


Low plus lenses and prisms: we have seen dramatic change in performance with the aid of these developmentally-applied lenses. These lenses are being used in a neuroptical manner rather than a purely optical fashion. Their use is very well tolerated.

It seems that certain Brains are overly reactive to the striped pattern of printed text and that small amounts of lenses reduce this irritability (presently being called Hyperirritable Brain Syndrome). Dr. Bowan  had a paper accepted for publication that begins to explain this phenomenon, involving image confusion called aliasing. (Draft of it HERE.) These lenses may be discontinued after a year or two.


A screening visit will tell us if there are perceptual skills problems. If there are, then a full evaluation will allow us to design a plan of treatment that draws on the student’s strengths and rebuilds the weak skills with the S-O-S Program that we utilize. (And yes, you’re right—“S-O-S” does mean “Help!” – real help, not a band-aid.)

If there are no significant skills problems, then a referral will be made to the appropriate professional for the student’s problem.

Feel free to call with any question that you may have, or to schedule the first visit to begin evaluation of your student’s visual and learning skills.

The Learning Clinic identifies and fixes the problems with learning – that’s why we’re called a clinic.

© 2011 - 2018 Merrill D. Bowan, O.D. All rights reserved


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