A Mile of Trouble – Part 2
Many of you who read Part 1 were able to appreciate the quandary. Child needs services, mom bends over backwards to find help, dad insists it’s a motivational issue or the child’s lack of application. It’s unfortunate, but a reality it seems we all have faced.
So, now what?
A longstanding patient with a myriad of challenges has his Vision Therapy program extended from 48 visits to 72. Mom, a neo-natal respiratory physician, is completely on board with our updated plans and is encouraged by the slivers of progress made. Dad, who incidentally is independently wealthy and does not work, thanks to the investments in oil made by his family lineage seems to understand the concepts of a malfunctioning visual system but will not able to wrap his head around the idea his son suffering from these conditions.
There were several attempts to make dad “feel it”; to “see” for himself the challenges his son was facing. Lenses, vectograms, brock strings, simulated swimming letters; we even split his field with vertically opposed 10 diopter prisms so he could experience diplopia. As written in Part One, dad has discussions with us and understands the visual system as well as most therapists, but there continued to be a disconnect between what we’re saying and his son’s struggles.
In a moment of weakness and pure frustration after listening to my patient speak for the entire session on how dad and mom disagree on why Vision Therapy is important, I pulled mom aside after a visit and asked a pretty direct question about dad: What part doesn’t he understand? His negativity towards our services just deflates his son’s motivation. Mom explained that dad understands fully, and in fact, it was I who was confused as to what the challenges really were. Huh? Mom went on to explain that the battle in there house is rooted in cultural differences, a battle that has spilled into our office. Dad is Middle Eastern, and in his native culture it is taboo to admit faults in, or seek treatment for, the first born son. There simply cannot be anything wrong with him as a matter of principle. No amount of convincing, discussion, visual aides or demonstration could impact dad’s lifelong belief that his first son would be flawless. The “prince”, as they refer to him, must always be viewed as perfect.
After hearing this, my next thought probably would have resulted in my firing, had it come out of my mouth. I had to bite my tongue.
Suddenly I realized that we were fighting the wrong battle. Convincing dad to become a willing participant was a losing proposition. Instead, we needed to dampen the effect of his influence.
Stay tuned for the conclusion…