Our guest blogger this month, Carrie Hall,  is one of the very talented vision therapists at my practice. She brings a unique perspective to the blog since she works with patients every week often times for many months.  Because of this,  she often gets to know the patients and their families on a very personal level and truly gets to know the struggles, trials, and triumphs patients go through.  At the conclusion of COVD’s National Vision and Learning month, I think her perspective into one of our patients is a perfect addition to what has been a great highlight of many inspiring vision therapy success stories.

As a vision therapist, I often see a theme among the parents that I encounter. Though they are of various ages, personalities, beliefs and styles, they often share one certain characteristic that sets them apart as vision therapy parents. They are incredibly persistent. They have been told many times in their lives that their children may not be capable of certain things. Perhaps by a doctor intending to give them a realistic expectation of the future, or perhaps by a teacher who is frustrated by a lack of success in their child. Whatever the source, I encounter parent after parent who has been informed that their child will not be capable of a certain level of ability, be it athletic,  academic, or just general life skill development.

Lynn was one such parent. Her daughter Shelby was simply not blooming in school like her older sister had. Reading was inexplicably difficult for this 8 year-old. Always a fight, often involving tears, Shelby simply would not take to reading. Lynn was baffled. Shelby was obviously bright and determined, a spunky and enthusiastic girl. It just didn’t add up. The pieces did not fit. Her eye doctors confirmed that Shelby’s vision was fine. She had 20/20 acuity, so the only reason why she shouldn’t be learning to read was if she simply wasn’t as smart as Lynn thought.
Perhaps some parents are more inclined to take the words of professionals at face value than others. Perhaps some parents simply refuse to be satisfied with an underwhelming determination of their children’s potential. Whatever is the mitigating factor, Lynn could not and would not be satisfied with this evaluation of her daughter. She persisted in her search. When she eventually found Washington Vision Therapy Center whose symptom checklist of vision-related learning problems read like a specific description of Shelby’s struggles, Lynn knew she had found her answer. When confronted with the financial strain that therapy would mean for her family, her persistence did not waiver. She would make whatever sacrifices were necessary: she would ensure her daughter’s chances for success in school and life no matter what.
Maybe persistence is a genetic trait as well. I certainly saw the same attributes in little Shelby that her mother demonstrated. Months after beginning therapy, after countless lifesaver cards and hart charts, Shelby was burnt out with it all. Who can blame her though? When the goal of all the work is just to get better at doing homework, it hardly seems a fair thing to ask of a girl of 8 who would rather be playing outside than getting better at reading any day of the week.
But like I said, maybe persistence is a genetic trait. Or perhaps it’s more nurture than nature. Whatever the case, Shelby persevered. Not only did she make it through therapy, she did great at it. She learned to be able to coordinate the use her two eyes like the best of them by the time it was all said and done. She and her mother developed a balanced working relationship in regards to this specific area in order to attack vision therapy head-on and accomplish every last bit of what Dr. Winters wanted to see from her clinically. Neither one of them would quit. Lynn pushed Shelby, and Shelby pushed right back in order to finish well. That little girl was the definition of persistence.
It’s the characteristic that marks out the parents, and the patients as well, for success. They are all up against diagnoses and school evaluations that make the future look bleak. They have been told repeatedly that they can’t, that they won’t. But they refuse to listen. Little fighters, they are, coming in and out of our offices defying the odds stacked up against them.
The other day, Shelby came up to her mother after doing some reading and said, “You know Mom, I think I like this reading thing.”  She is now at grade level in reading.  That is the payoff for any persistent mother.  Lynn has continue to fight to get Shelby’s story of hard work and persistence out to the public and she is now being featured on COVD for National Children’s Vision and Learning month. http://www.cisionwire.com/college-of-optometrists-in-vision-development/r/mom-of-struggling-reader-finds-help-and-speaks-out-for-college-of-optometrists-in-vision-development,c9283372 Imagine that. A homeshooling mom from Yakima, Washington who believed her child’s struggles with reading were more than a resistant attitude or just that her daughter wasn’t smart enough. Persistence is a powerful thing.