big picture, little man…

It is bound to happen. Someone will complain.

Working with families during their child’s crisis can be some of the toughest work out there, and yet offers some of the biggest rewards when successful.  We do our best, try to be understanding and accommodating, work within the given framework of their family dynamic, try everything to keep Vision Therapy sessions interesting and useful, forgive the idiosyncrasies of parents that at times are disruptive,  and work to coach and encourage growth at every turn – we give it all we can, and then we give it more.  Still, their child’s lack of success or unwillingness to comply at home falls in our lap, and if they are not successful, the burden is ours to bear.

Whomever coined the phrase “the customer is always right”, probably wasn’t involved in patient care. I’m reminded of this unfortunate fact occasionally, and today was one of those very occasions.  For a parent, admitting your child is damaged, delayed, uncooperative, non-compliant, destructive or a bit manipulative can be the toughest realization out there. Mourning the devastation behind your child being less than you dreamed has to be tough. I know. I watched my parents go through it. In some ways, they still are healing.  Many choose instead to blame the child’s medical and educational providers for not trying hard enough. Perhaps that helps to rationalize the loss, but today, that provider was me.

Without getting into too many details, my patient is great in the office, but quite resistant to VT at home.  Apparently, he becomes a crying, screaming, ball of terror at the mere mention of VT. Mom has opined to my doctor that it’s my lack of motivational ideas, lack of skill in the VT room, and my unwillingness to rapidly advance her child on an activity, which has caused boredom and resistance at home.  Although she may have failed to take into account that my advancing her child prematurely would be an injustice considering the hierarchy under which we operate, I am not defending myself. It’s her money, her child and her perception – and perception is everything.

During frustrating moments like these, I always remind myself to consider the big picture.  Of the hundreds upon hundreds of patients VT helps everyday throughout the world, the odds are, there is bound to be someone who complains. Considering how much I’ve bent over backwards to meet this family’s needs, it’s hard to not take this one on the chin. Growing up in a family where my younger sibling struggled, I can certainly appreciate the other side, still that doesn’t dampen the sting any.

But the sun will come up tomorrow, and I’ll be ready to go.

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Posted on November 5, 2013, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Robert,
    Today I went through the Starbucks drive up on my way back to the office at noon, and called my staff (we are a small group) to inquire about caffeine needs. My optician said, “No, I’m good on caffeine but I sure could use a hit of Jack Daniels!” Needless to say, Starbucks wasn’t able to help us out with this one. Hope all you will need tomorrow will be your usual Starbucks….here’s to another day. Jenni

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  2. Dear Robert, As I sit and read this I feel complete empathy!
    I have been struggling with a similar situation myself and reading your post I am reminded of a presentation made by Dr. Randy Schulman MS,OD,FCOVD at an autism and vision conference.. Dr. Shulman spoke of screening entire families for VT not just the child in question and that in many cases the entire family is asked to participate in the visual therapy. HOW WONDERFUL!!
    I know that with the family I have in mind this would be the LAST thing I would suggest for fear of being launched from my second story office window (or launching myself, if truth be told lol) however I do, in my soul, feel that so many of these ‘crisis’ families would benefit from doing a little VT to better understand their children and how hard they work, that the therapy they do is not a simple task to complete. I would bet the same struggles, outbursts and negative behaviors would present for the parent as much as they do for the child!
    Know that everyone of us that reads this page understands the amount of energy that goes into what you do each day and we support you!!

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  3. two words in regards to the parents of many of the kids in VT: Apple / Tree

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    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      Thanks, Ann. We are actually considering adding a “life coach” to our staff to address these deeply rooted issues. Thanks for reading 🙂

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  4. Hi Robert
    When a patient is cooperative in VT but not at home I have to wonder why the parents believe it is the “fault” of the therapist, as in this case. Obviously you are doing something right to engage his attention and cooperation, and they are not.
    ANIMO!!!

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    • Thanks, Linda. The sad part is bringing their home book back and forth has been sporadic, and I have tried to be accommodating in only reviewing home activities when they remember their supplies. This inconsistency of review was brought up, and pinned on me as poor patient care, by the parent. Live and learn.

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