Pyramid of Potential



7 Visual Blocks to Reading 




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June 11, 2015


Hey Folks!


This month I am talking about reading, so that parents have important information to be able to help their children this summer to improve reading, and so that other professionals have time to prepare for the fall to implement anything new into their curriculum.


In this article I will go over the seven blocks to reading and what to do when they occur. The Fire sale on Growing Brains is over but you can still get it and take the 150 day Growing Brains curriculum and squeeze it into the summer, so that whoever you are working with can be that much better by the beginning of the school year.


Brain Advancement Training is starting June 1st. Be sure to sign up if you are interested. Head over to for more information. Contact us if you are interested or have some questions.


Thank you so much! Kathy

7 Visual Blocks to Reading 



20 years ago, if someone said that they had Dyslexia, everyone knew exactly what it meant - that they saw letters and words backwards, and that they were smarter than their ability to read. Today, the definition is more blurred. Some people define it as an auditory processing or phonemic awareness issue only. However, that would mean that it would not matter if they could see the letters or not.


But we know that reading well requires the ability to see the letters, match them with their corresponding sounds, and be able to blend those sounds together quickly and easily to make words. Also, we need the ability to quickly recognize (visual memory) words we know and to add the new words we just sounded out into our sight word bank.


What visual skills do we need to have in order to read well?

  • Near point acuity - has the struggling reader seen an optometrist? Since this is not on lists for pre-kindergarteners to have done, a pair of glasses may help significantly.
  • Sustained focus - the ability to keep the words in focus for as long as desired. Some people lose this ability after reading for a paragraph or two.
  • Tracking - this is the ability to follow a moving object smoothly. If a person has poor tracking, he might skip words or parts of words; skip over lines or repeat lines.
  • Fixation - can the struggling reader stare at a fixed point for 10 seconds or more? If not, then she might be skipping around on a page because of this.
  • Saccades - the ability to quickly and efficiently move the eyes to the exact spot that the brain wants them to go. Poor saccades causes jumpiness as well.
  • Convergence - if the child can't easily copy from the board, then reading from the top of the worksheet to the bottom might also be a struggle. Look for excessive blinking and rubbing of the eyes.
  • Visual memory - necessary for remembering sight words and for comprehension


What to do:

First, integrate the primitive reflexes. The reason these issues exist is because they were never developed in the first place, or trauma caused the reflexes to re-emerge. Maintaining Brains Everyday DVD has the exercises on it, and they should be done for at least 30 straight days. It does even deeper if then a break for 30 days is given by another repetition of 30 days. Get Maintaining Brains Everyday here


Next, get an evaluation from a developmental or behavioral optometrist. You can find one near you at or


You may have heard that you should not do vision therapy for one reason or another. Personally, I went through 16 weeks of VT and at the end I could 3 times as fast, comprehend better, and no longer skipped lines. One 14 year old I know, after vision therapy, could read with no additional remediation, was retested, got out of the life skills track in school, put into career track, and went to community college. It literally saved his life!!


But please don't skip the reflexes. People who do reflex integration first have found that the therapy is shorter, easier, less costly, and lasts.


Finally, if vision therapy is not accessible, you can get a little vision work done by signing up for or doing the exercises from


Happy reading!




June Conference - Don't Miss It!!

Saratoga Jazz Festival:

Consider a vacation in Saratoga Springs, New York!

June 28 - The Plastic Brain:

Improving Memory, Attention, Processing Speed and More

Registration is at

Save by registering before May 15!!


Throughout the day, Ms. Johnson will train participants in exactly how to remediate some of the most difficult problems that are a result of incomplete brain development in infancy. However, as she likes to say, there is no silver bullet! Each child is an individual who will require a unique approach.

Ms. Johnson will describe a model where the emphasis changes from spending increasingly more time and energy on academics to incorporating brain development into early childhood, special education, and regular education classrooms, freeing up the teacher to teach more academics as a result.

She will share the results from an elementary school in Wisconsin who is implementing these methods with significant cognitive improvements in less than a year! "the improvement in the classroom has been the best news that we hear" Wisconsin Teacher Ryan McBurney


The Developing Brain and Case Histories

Body and Mind Health, and the effect on brain development

     Nutrition, Stress, Exercise, Sleep

Neurodevelopmental Stages; Why Cognitive Skills never Developed

     Primitive Reflexes

     Symptoms and Integration exercises

     Incorporating reflex exercises into the school day

Sensory Development

     Auditory Processing

       Symptoms of an auditory processing disorder

       What to do

     Visual Processing

       Tracking and Convergence Screening

       Simple eye exercises

       Irlen Syndrome and Colored Overlays

       Vision Therapy

Cognitive Skills Development

     Phonemic Awareness



     Logic and reasoning

     Processing speed

Integrating brain development into school day without losing precious academic time


June 29 - Primitive Reflexes:

Foundation for Learning

Registration is at

Save by registering before May 15!!



The primitive reflexes have been around as long as people have been around. They are present primarily to force the infant to move the body in such ways that it develops and matures to survive. The additional benefit, as humans, is that along with motor movements, many other brain components are developing that help with academics: the visual system, the auditory system, the ability to concentrate, remember, and understand.


Several people have commented that they believe this is the missing link. And indeed, in my experience since 2000, I have found that the integration of the primitive reflexes to be one of the least expensive and most effective therapies today.


 "I have a student that a year ago was basically a selective mute on the Autistic Spectrum.  I have put a lot of work in class working in the Moro and can report that she changed like a light switch coming on.  She is speaking in class, she will transition independently, is reading basic readers, and is exhibiting significantly fewer behaviors to the point that we may be removing the 1:1 behavioral specialist from her IEP." - California Teacher Mark Steiner



     Case histories

     History of Reflex Integration


     Primitive reflexes guidelines

     Beyond Primitive Reflexes

Moro Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Palmar Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Spinal Galant:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration


NOTE: Please bring a yoga mat or blanket plus a small pillow and wear comfortable clothes as we will be practicing on the floor

Contact Us
Kathy Johnson, MS Ed

Bob Johnson

Pyramid of Potential
245 Washington St #3369
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Take a Look!
Video of the Week!

Vision Development: Causes of Learning Disabilities
Kathy Johnson describes how vision - beyond acuity and the need for glasses - is a cause of learning disabilities. Watch her eyes closely!!
Kathy Johnson describes how vision - beyond acuity and the need for glasses - is a cause of learning disabilities. Watch her eyes closely!!

Upcoming Local Presentations

Improving Reading When Reading Methods Don't Work Well Enough 

June 18, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Handwriting and Composition Abilities

August 20. 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Math and Word Problems When the Methods Don't Work Well Enough

September 17, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Where's Kathy?

It is now time to set up your professional development at your school - Kathy is available for many dates this Fall! Call now to secure YOUR date!


Below are the upcoming workshops that Kathy Johnson is giving. If she is not coming to your area, why not hire her for your next professional development?


  Kathy Johnson Photo 2010

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in WHITE PLAINS, NY 
Early Registration: $189.99 

Thursday, September 24, 2015 in PLAINVIEW, NY
Early Registration: $189.99 

Friday, September 25, 2015 in MANHATTAN, NY
Early Registration: $189.99 

If you aren't near any of these on-site professional development conferences, consider the following:


Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach   Price: $169.99  Author: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.  Format: DVD