A friend recently sent me the following quote via Facebook:
“A worried mother does better research than the FBI.”
It was intended to be funny, but very fitting in my case, as I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about visual challenges and its impact on learning, and vision therapy and how it can correct my daughter’s smorgasbord of visual issues. My research has led me to a recent discovery, Dr. David Cook’s book, “When Your Child Struggles: The Myth of 20/20 Vision (What every Parent Needs to Know)”, Invision Press, Atlanta, Copyright 2004, David L. Cook O.D. ISBN 0-9632657-0-9, 173 pages, www.cookvisiontherapy.com.
Intended for parents, “When Your Child Struggles” is very informative, concise and easy to understand. For those of you with a limited (or no) medical background, you won’t need to Google medical terms or try to decipher complicated diagrams to get through this book. It’s also a fast read, because let’s face it, it’s difficult to carve out time from our busy family schedules to read an encyclopedia-sized tome.I really like the three-section breakdown of the book. Specifically:
Section 1: Understanding 20/20
Section 2: The Visual Abilities
Section 3: Finding Help
Section one outlines the myth of 20/20 vision; “the dangerous assumption” as Dr. Cook calls it. Those of us with children undergoing Vision Therapy are all too aware of the price of assuming 20/20 vision means there isn’t an issue with the visual system – it has cost us time, and for some, self-esteem and overall emotional well-being.
Chapter two discusses the definition of visual acuity, how visual acuity is measured, the Snellen Chart and the “Snellen Fraction”. Specifically, what the Snellen Chart tells us (and what it doesn’t) and the possible reasons for reduced visual acuity.
Chapter three outlines the anatomy of the eyes, and chapter four reviews how corrective lenses work and how they can help with some of the commonly known visual conditions that affect visual acuity such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
Section two addresses specific visual abilities. I particularly like Dr. Cook’s statement on page 62, “20/20 means only that your child can see tiny letters across the room for as long as it takes to read the eye chart.” In his book, Dr. Cook emphasized, ‘for as long as it takes to read the eye chart’ by placing the words in all capital letters.
On page 63, Dr. Cook defines visual abilities and how these abilities are much more than 20/20 vision. I sat with head nodding as I read: “In addition to 20/20 acuity, there are a number of other visual abilities which are necessary for your child to perform at potential in school. These abilities include keeping things clear at different distances (including reading distance), keeping things from going double, judging depth, locating words when reading, guiding a pencil, recognizing what is seen, and remembering what is seen.” All of which are issues my daughter has, albeit less so since starting Vision Therapy.
Each of the remaining chapters in section two outlines issues that can impact ones visual abilities including: accommodation, eye teaming, eye movements, visual perception, eye-hand co-ordination and visual memory.
I like how each chapter begins with a patient story outlining their specific struggles and reasons for them, as well as the drills and checklists and questions to ask yourself (or your child) if you suspect they may have issues with their visual abilities. The summaries at the end of each chapter are helpful as well.
Section three offers suggestions of where to find help. Chapter twelve (page 125) outlines the seven main visual abilities for learning including accommodation and eye teaming, which Dr. Cook suggests “are the two which are the most crucial for good reading.” (page 127)
Chapter thirteen describes how vision therapy works, some of the instruments used such as the stereoscope (pages 134 & 135), the importance of the role a Vision Therapist plays in a successful program and the 3-step vision therapy sequence used at Cook Vision Therapy Centers.
Chapter fourteen offers resources to find additional information and how to find behavioral optometrists in your area. I also like how this chapter outlines the additional education some optometrists pursue when they elect to offer vision therapy in their practice, such as obtaining their fellowship via the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (www.covd.org).
Chapter fifteen (the final chapter) found on pages 145 to 153 features testimonials from patients who have successfully completed a vision therapy program and the benefits they’re now enjoying as a result.
My copy of “When Your Child Struggles” is filled with highlighted passages and flagged pages containing information I feel is specific to my daughter and her visual issues. I only wish I had come across Dr. Cook’s book earlier, when my daughter was in kindergarten and I took her to see a local optometrist who said, “Her vision is 20/20. There’s nothing wrong with her eyes.” I would have been better informed, and could have saved her from a lot of frustration.
To purchase a copy of “When Your Child Struggles: The Myths of 20/20 Vision (What Every Parent Needs to Know)” by Dr. David Cook visit the Optometric Extension Program Foundation’s online store, www.oepf.org or visit Cook Vision Therapy Center’s website at http://www.cookvisiontherapy.com/.