Coping day-to-day

Our daughter has a level of determination of someone far older than her seven years. She wants Vision Therapy to work. My husband and I have been very open with her regarding her visual issues. We have reassured her that her struggles in school are not her fault, and certainly not because she isn’t working hard. Even so, her confidence isn’t where it once was, and while we believe that vision therapy will be a success, and she will regain her confidence, it’s the day-to-day that can sometimes be a struggle.

For example, this past weekend we were doing homework together (my daughter still has trouble completing some in-class assignments) and while I can see where she has shown improvement, especially with her reading, she doesn’t. As she put it, “I’m not really good at anything. It’s so hard, and I’m tired.” As a mother, this is very difficult for me to hear, and it breaks my heart to see my beautiful, bright, intelligent child think so poorly of her abilities.  But I don’t allow her to see my sadness. I am her cheerleader, and I reassure her that what she finds difficult now will eventually become easier.  I also remind her of the many things she is good at!

“Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~

Recently her teacher pulled me aside during school dismissal and said, “We need to find a way to get her ready faster, as we’re always waiting on her.”  Her teacher is understandably busy, and she sometimes forgets about my daughter’s visual issues and the behaviours it [sometimes] brings out.  (To her credit, the teacher has made some in-class modifications to help my daughter, and I am very grateful for that.)

Again I explain her diagnosis, and again I reassure those concerned that we’re working to correct it, and once again I explain that her behaviours can be similar to dyslexia or ADD, but it isn’t the same. Admittedly, some days I feel as though I’m talking to myself, but I will tell the story as many times as I have to for my daughter’s sake.

Do we have days where we wish we didn’t have to go through this? Of course we do! But it’s part of our reality for now, and here are some of the things we do to cope:

Open communication. School is where our children spend the majority of their time Monday through Friday. I have been an open book with my daughter’s teachers about what’s going on with her vision, the ways in which it impacts her learning, and why my daughter does some of the things she does. Communication is through face-to-face discussion, notes to her teacher, and articles that I have come across that explain CI and how it affects learning.  I am also looking into donating books on the subject to the Teacher Resource Centre at the school.

Plan ahead. The world will not stop and wait, just because my daughter is in Vision Therapy. Organization is important; we plan each day and incorporate our VT homework into the schedule.  Of course the unexpected can arise, and not much can be done about that, but with a general plan in place, it’s a lot easier to deal with surprises.

Acknowledge accomplishments.  We don’t have a big-band parade every time one of our children succeeds, but we do take the time to acknowledge when our children have done something well. Whether it’s during vision therapy homework, school homework, or just ‘regular stuff’ we stop to say “Thank you for …” or “I am so proud of you for …” or “I like how you…” (fill in the blanks with what’s appropriate).

Be inclusive. My daughter has vision issues, but we are committed to Vision Therapy as a family. It’s not all on her.  It’s not, “YOU have to do vision therapy homework” it’s, “WE have to do vision therapy homework.” It’s not, “YOU have a vision therapy appointment.” It’s “WE have a vision therapy appointment.”

Have fun. Vision Therapy is extra work, but it is fun. Our Vision Therapist, Helen, is awesome. She’s so positive, and really knows how to put a fun twist on some of the exercises that helps to keep my daughter interested. I try to do the same with our VT homework.

Three children play in a lagoon formed from hi...

Photo by Mike Baird

Take a break. Sometimes we just need to not think about school, the visual challenges, Vision Therapy, progress reports, research etc. So when the time allows, we take a break. Not from VT homework (as that’s still very important), but just from everything else. We find the time to live in the moment, and recharge.

My daughter has had some tough life lessons considering her youth, but we’re doing our best to assure her that we’ll get through this – TOGETHER.