Shades of Opal…
Monday 5:00pm – Sit in the chair, slide to the floor, roll over and scratch your head, take off one shoe and sock, throw shoe across the room, stick sock in your pocket, climb back on the chair, pull Vectogram slides apart and drop one on the floor, hand second slide to mom, pick your nose, trade your glasses for Polaroid glasses, slide out of the chair again, show mom an improvised push-up, tell the first few details of a lunchtime conversation, pull sock out of your pocket and give it to mom, realize that you have one bare foot and pick at your toes, ask mom why all your toes aren’t the same size and not wait for an answer, sing a few improvised bars of your favorite Hannah Montana song, recite verbatim the opening lines from Finding Nemo, ask for ice cream, adjust your shirt, climb back in the chair on your knees facing the wrong way, bark like a dog, meow like a cat, tell the middle two sentences of a story about your sister’s birthday party, turn around and sit correctly in the chair, realize that you have a booger on your finger and wipe it on the floor, get up to find your sock, sit back down in the chair, put your sock back on, take off other shoe, take off both socks and put them on the opposite feet, decide you don’t need your shoes and toss them to your mom, put your glasses back on, sit in the chair and ask “are we done now?”
You have just spent 60 seconds with Opal.
Monday 5:01pm – Lather, rinse, repeat.
My dearest new patient is Opal. A charming 6 year old girl with an inquisitive personality, a bubbly smile, and a level of hyperactivity paramount to a hummingbird with an intense caffeine addiction. This girl moves fast, talks faster, and is a body in constant motion. And in case you missed it, she is my eighth and final patient of the day on Mondays.
In a previous blog post, “I don’t want to, and you can’t make me”, while discussing patients who have put up barriers, I mentioned briefly that in 13 years of Vision Therapy I have met some kids who have run circles around me. Well I’m not throwing in the towel just yet, but in our first two sessions combined, we have been successful with two activities. “Successful” – meaning that Opal actually laid on the floor to try Marsden Ball, even though she didn’t stay there long enough for me to give instructions, much less swing the ball; and her second success was Marching…right out of the office. Not bad for two 50 minute sessions, huh?
Well this week was session number three, and I was ready. My plan was simple. Do nothing. Not nothing as in continue with VT and try to ignore the behavior; do nothing, as in control the environment and remove as much of the stimulation as I could.
I brought Opal and her mother into the VT room, instructed them to have a seat, turned off the lights, and sat on the floor. Then from across the room, whispered simple instructions. “Opal – today is about learning to use our ears to help our eyes. Since our eyes don’t have an “on” button right now, let’s have our ears do the work”. I had both Opal and her mom lay on the floor in the dark, and listen to what was going on in the office, trying to identify different sounds and visualize what was going on on the other side of the door. With every passing minute, Opal became calmer and calmer. We actually had a funny conversation about what sounded like someone dropping a jar of marbles. She said she could “see” the marbles all over the floor and she could see everyone racing to pick them up. So we’ve got visualization covered. I found a penlight and did some simple pencil pushups in the dark with Opal, not long before it was time to go home. She did great!!!
I don’t know if our time on the floor accomplished any real VT activity, but what I do know, is Opal is ready to come back next Monday, and she has this therapist thinking outside the box. At least I have something to work with – in the dark.
For kicks, I Googled “Opal” this morning. I learned that not only is Opal my birthstone, but it is a green-ish, blue-ish, red-ish, yellow-ish, black-ish, aqua-ish yet mostly clear stone. All over the place. Sounds about right 🙂