Knowing When To Keep Your Job At Work

Written by Guest Blogger: Jessica Zwilling COVT

I was going to write about something entirely different this week until personal experience over the weekend inspired me otherwise.  Coincidentally, it somewhat ties into my last blog entry.

I was at 6 year old birthday party with my three kids.  It was one of those indoor playground places with things to climb, slide, and bounce.  You get 60-70 minutes to let your kids run around like maniacs and then about 20 minutes to inhale pizza and cake.  So, all of the kids were having a good time with no injuries, thank goodness.  When playtime was over, we got escorted into the party room where the kids could find a seat and stuff their faces.  As I was getting my three situated, I saw a mom with her 6 year old daughter on a nearby bench.  The little girl was leaning on her mom, clearly tired, with her thumb in her mouth.  Keep in mind, that it was about 8pm on a Friday night.  Another mother, just an acquaintance, went right over to the little girl, playfully swatted her thumb out of her mouth, and said in a sing song voice, “No thumb!”  The little girl’s mother gave a polite giggle, but was clearly a little disturbed but the thumb sucking police.  The little girl leaned closer into her mother and put her thumb right back in.  The other mother then explained, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m a dentist” and then continued to swat the little girl’s hand two more times with the same “No thumb!” chant.  The third time was too much.  The little girl broke out into a fit of hysterical crying, and the embarrassed (and likely offended) mother had to pick up and leave the party early.

How could this possibly relate to Developmental Optometry?  It doesn’t, really.  We are not dentists, and as far as I know, no one has done any studies that correlate thumb sucking to poor binocular vision.

The whole scenario, however, did remind me of a dilemma in which I often find myself when I’m not at work.  Most often, it happens when I am in some kind of Mommy social setting – birthday party, library group, playground.  I will be waiting for my kid at the bottom of the slide, and I will notice the child that comes down right before mine has a whopping exotropia.  Of course, I would never even consider being the bully mom, clapping my hands in front of the kid’s face, and shouting, “Pull that eye in!”  Can you imagine?

I do, however, have this weird radar that goes off when I encounter children like this out in Mommy Land – the baby with an eye patch, the toddler with an eye turn, or the preschooler wearing high plus in her glasses, who is terrified to climb up and down the steps on her own.  I have a million questions.  Who is their doctor?  Do they know about Vision Therapy?  I hope they didn’t take him for surgery yet!  Who prescribed those lenses?

Hopefully, I am not alone in these situations, otherwise, I may need to seek help for my VT radar neurosis syndrome.  The big question to ask here is, “When do I need to leave my professional knowledge at the office?”  From a professional and parental viewpoint, I believe the answer is “always.”  Unless someone specifically asks your opinion or seeks your advice about a visual matter, you can’t be that bully dentist mom (or dad).  Even if you have the best of intentions, chances are that you will offend or scare away your fellow playground parent.  This happens all the time to new moms and dads who are approached by complete strangers giving out advice about everything from why the baby isn’t wearing a hat, to how to get your baby to sleep through the night, to discipline advice.  No one likes being criticized or challenged on their parenting methods, especially not from a complete stranger.  Once, I was in the grocery store parking lot firmly explaining to my then 2 year old son why it was not OK to bite his older sister.  A complete stranger came over to me and proceeded to lecture me that my words will do no good and that I needed to bite my son so that he could understand that biting hurts.  Yes, that really happened.

I am a huge advocate for Vision Therapy, and for those that ask for advice or information, I will talk their ear off.  I will even take that leap with people I am friendly with if I know that their child is struggling.  Spreading the word about Vision Therapy takes skill in riding the fine line between being passive and being the VT Evangelist.  Both extremes will produce deaf ears.  Keeping our profession professional is so important to the vitality of our work.  I have been fortunate over the years to work with doctors and therapists who display professionalism, caring, and passion for VT at the highest of levels.  Now, I just need to stop analyzing that exotrope on the monkey bars.


Posted on March 25, 2014, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Robert!

    First, I want to let you know that your last couple of posts on bi-ocular/MFBF/BOP/BIM and amblyopia have really been terrific….I saved them for myself and sent them on to my mentees. Yep, they were that organized and good. Now, I think the little girl sucking the thumb DOES have an application to VT. The thumb sucking behavior is her way to cope with the situation. Could be over-stimulation, exhaustion late on Fri. night, too much sugar….any of all of those, or something else. However, I think that what you related was a cautionary tale for us as therapists – and that is……be careful HOW and WHEN you decide to take away somebody’s coping mechanism. That mechanism might be suppression, it might be the eye turn, it might be chewing on their shirt collar…..That patient has that adaptation or coping skill for a reason. Most of us also know that we have to have the patient’s cooperation and permission as we began to remove those coping/adaptation mechanisms. In this case, the dentist mom had neither. As a parent, I would also jokingly say that you have to choose the mountains you are willing to die on….and thumb sucking wouldn’t be mine. Of course, I’m NOT a dentist.

    I think that noticing things in public that are reflections of what we do in our work is normal. Otherwise, why do I have a veterinarian husband who would probably NOT notice someone with a broken leg, but would instantly point out that their dog had hip dysplasia? Yes, really happens. Thanks again. Jenni


  1. Pingback: dog of the day… | VT Works

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