“Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too”

The names Robin Benoit and Jillian Benoit are synonymous with Vision Therapy. Robin and her daughter Jillian are tireless advocates; they Skype with optometry schools world-wide, and give presentations at conferences. Furthermore, both Robin and Jillian reach out to vision therapy patients and their families to lend a listening ear or encouragement.

A little over a year ago, when we first decided to pursue vision therapy for our daughter, one of the first books I read was “Jillian’s Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daughter’s Life” Robin and Jillian’s first book.   After reading about Jillian’s experiences with vision therapy, and how much her life has improved since she completed her program I knew that my husband & I had made the right choice for our daughter.

Now, Robin and Jillian have released a new book entitled, “Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too.” With a Foreword by Larry Fitzgerald, all-pro wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals (and a former vision therapy patient), this latest publication includes twenty-two true stories of both children and adults, whose lives have been changed for the better because of vision therapy.

Dear Jillian Photo

“Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too” features inspirational stories including that of R.J. (chapter 8), a little boy who was so unhappy at school, he once hid in a closet. Initially diagnosed with receptive-expressive disorder and ADD, R.J’s parents took him to see a behavioural optometrist who discovered R.J. had amblyopia, and it was interfering with his ability to learn. (Now 9 years old, R.J. loves school and continues to do well in his vision therapy program.)

“Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too” isn’t limited to the success of young children either. It also includes chapters profiling adults who have experienced success following a vision therapy program.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to purchase your copy of “Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too” now. If you’re an optometrist offering Vision Therapy consider adding this book to your information kits for prospective VT patients.

To order your copy, please visit www.Jilliansstory.com.  Or visit the “Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too” Facebook page.

Help spread the word about the benefits of Vision Therapy!

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Sometimes it isn’t about the ‘WOW’

‘Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty, forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, forty four …’

On a beautiful fall day I found myself counting quietly in my head as I watched my daughter dribbling a basketball.

‘Forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty …’ she was still going.

It occurred to me in that quiet moment that a year ago, she couldn’t even make it to three when she tried to dribble a ball, and her movements were a little less controlled. She also had to concentrate so hard on what she was doing, that she wasn’t aware of what was taking place around her. Her movements on this beautiful day were steady, controlled & confident as she bounced the ball with one hand, then switching hands, and carried on a conversation with her friend.

How long has she been able to do that? I wondered.

As I sat quietly on this unseasonably warm day, watching my children play it occurred to me that maybe it isn’t about the ‘wow’. This time last year I was researching everything I could find about vision therapy. Every testimonial (and there are several) talked about the Wow. “Wow … it was amazing how quickly his reading improved.” or “Vision therapy changed our lives forever. My daughter was reading at a first grade level, and now she’s reading several grades ahead.”  Or “Since completing his vision therapy program, our son no longer requires supports in school.” This was the ‘wow’ I was expecting. I naively thought it would just come out of the blue one day; that all of our hard work would pay off, and suddenly things our daughter had trouble with before would be easier.

Vision Therapy has made things easier, but it has been gradual. And our daughter worked extremely hard to get there.  (Our hard work isn’t over yet!)

Back to the day when our daughter was dribbling her basketball – on the way home I mentioned to her, “You know, you did great dribbling that ball today. Before you started vision therapy, I don’t think you were able to do that.” My daughter – being the young tween that she is – gave me that “duh, Mom, what planet did you just come from?” look and said, “Uh, I could always do that.”

No my darling child, you could not. I thought to myself.

We drove home in silence for a while, and then my daughter volunteered:

“The only thing that has changed since I started Vision Therapy, is that I can print in a straight line now. I just follow the line with my eyes.”

I almost slammed on the brakes, but remembering I was dealing with a tween, I kept it cool and said, “That’s great. You have worked really hard, it’s nice that you’re noticing some of the benefits.” But inside I was doing a happy dance: ’I just follow the line with my eyes’ she said, tracking … feedback … awareness …” I was giddy!  This.Is.Big.

Fast forward to earlier this week when I had a meeting with our daughter’s third grade teacher and I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting the usual, “She misses words when she’s reading. She’s not quite grasping the main idea of the story … etc … etc” But her teacher had something quite different to tell me. Our daughter is reading at grade level. Her comprehension is very good. “She’s getting what she’s reading.” Her teacher said, “And that’s big. Fluency remains an issue, but that comes with practice.” Our daughter can read for longer periods of time, and she’s retaining the information – this is a very, very BIG DEAL!!

Our daughter is still having issues with short term memory and this is especially evident when it comes to math. She doesn’t always retain the concepts. So we’ll be shifting our focus to helping her with numeracy and all it encompasses. And that’s okay. She’s come so far since last October, that I know we’ll be seeing further improvements in time.  We are working with the school to get some grade level accommodations in place to support her learning. She’s catching up, and eventually we hope she’ll no longer need those supports.

Sometimes Vision Therapy is the only piece of the puzzle, and sometimes it’s a piece of a much larger puzzle.  Regardless of the individual situation I say with all confidence that Vision Therapy definitely makes a positive difference.

Our journey isn’t over, but for now I’m going to savour the wins, because I am certain there are more to come.