Keeping the Faith – Home Therapy Updates

Between school activities, homework, extra review and vision therapy, not to mention family obligations and other day-to-day responsibilities, life continues to be busy at our house.   We’re not special, life is busy for everyone. Scheduling and planning seems to be the best approach, and these days we’re making time for some new vision therapy homework activities.

Last week we continued with the Double Circle Jumps (see “Circle, Circle, Jump!” for a description), but added the use of a metronome set at 20. (I gradually raised it to 30 with each session.) My daughter did well, but continues to find it challenging as it involves having to track her place on a chart, determine which side of the line she needs to jump to, and whether she’s calling out right or left.  She forges ahead though, and is getting much better at it.

We continued with See 3 Coins and she is increasing the length of time for which she is able to hold her focus. Even with slow movement of the card in small circles she is able to maintain her focus for almost two minutes (this is progress, believe me). We perform this task three times, with small breaks in between, and while her eyes get tired and she sometimes has a mild headache afterwards, my daughter admits to being able to see a slight difference each time she does this exercise. I take this as a good sign.

BAR (Binocular Accommodative Rock) was introduced and I will be honest and say that my daughter found this activity extremely frustrating.  To quote The Optometric Extension Program Foundation’s (OEP) description, the purpose of BAR “is to give you constant feedback as to whether both eyes are “turned on” while you are reading and to increase the speed of your accommodative response (focusing mechanism) under binocular conditions.”  This activity told us whether or not my daughter’s eyes were working together. As we discovered (not surprisingly) my daughter’s eyes don’t consistently work together.

It wasn’t the level of difficulty per se, but rather all of the steps involved that seemed to be the cause of frustration. My daughter had to wear her reading glasses, then place a pair of glasses with polarized lenses over top, then hold the plus/minus flipper lenses in front of her eyes. We also had to hold polarized strips on top of her reading material. We chose a book she was comfortable with, and while on her slant board, she’d have to read along, keeping everything in place (I helped). Well, at first her glasses pinched her ears, the polarized lenses kept slipping off and then Dr. Tai’s office called to say he’d modified the plan by asking that we encourage her to read faster (to say that went over like a lead balloon would be an understatement) and  at one point (uncharacteristically for her) she tossed it all aside and refused to do it. She was right, it was all pretty exasperating.


Polarized glasses

What did we do?   We switched places. She pretended to be me, and I pretended to be her.

On went my glasses, then the polarized lenses followed by the flipper lenses, and the polarized bar strips on the page. My daughter reminded me – as she had been told – that if words became blurry I was to tap the page, and if I had double vision, I was to bring my index finger in front of my nose, focus on it, and bring it down to the page until the double vision went away. She was an excellent Vision Therapist, and I tried to be as good a patient as she is, even though this exercise gave me a headache. But role-reversal worked. And my daughter had enough of a break and regained some confidence to tackle BAR once more!

She did have occasion where the words became blurry, and other time she had incidents of double vision, but she remembered the little tricks that Helen shared with her, and continued on. Next to Near/Far, this was one of the few activities that seemed to exhaust her.

This week brings another new exercise (and a break from BAR much to my daughter’s relief) with a new activity called Flashlight Pointing. A two-step process, this activity involves my daughter holding a laser light in each hand, and reading random letters from a chart. While doing this, she has to point the laser light – to the beat of the Metronome – to an image on the wall, while calling out the letter. Even though she says this is hard, she does very well with it. We’ll be working at spreading out the series of images, so she’ll need to further her peripheral range of vision.  We’re also continuing with Circle Jumps and See 3 Coins.

Despite how challenging some of the exercises are my daughter continues to be hopeful that some-day Vision Therapy will make things easier for her. She has learned quickly the importance of keeping the faith.

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