(May 24 1924 – July 26 2016)
Dr. Harry Wachs, an optometrist who established visuo-cognitive therapy to treat children with developmental disorders, was an innovative visionary. From noticing that children with visual problems often struggled in school, he immersed himself in the field of vision therapy and developmental psychology, and traveled to Geneva in 1962 to meet and learn from Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget. He developed ‘thinking games’ to stimulate children’s intellectual growth according to Piaget’s blueprint of cognitive development and described this approach with Catholic University Psychologist, Hans G. Furth, in their book, “Thinking Goes to School” (1974). Together they started a school for thinking in the early 1970s for primary school-aged children in West Virginia.
Dr. Wachs dispelled his methods to therapists worldwide. He taught at Catholic University and later at George Washington University where he established the Vision and Conceptual Development Center in the early 1980s – a program to help children with reading and learning disorders, and developmental disabilities. In the 1990s, his work expanded to children on the autism spectrum, which resulted in the publication of a second book, “Visual/Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling and Movement” co-authored with clinical psychologist, Serena Wieder who is the cofounder of DIR Floortime. His work attracted many people to his center in Washington, DC from all parts of the world, including Joe Gibbs who offered him a position with the Redskins during their Super Bowl years.
These thinking games are the basis for our cognitive developmental program at Little Thinkers Center to enhance cognitive growth, academic achievement, and social skills.