The Teacher Becomes The Student
Written by Guest Blogger: Jessica Zwilling COVT
I learned two new activities this week! Technically, it’s not new, but more like an oldie with a creative spin. We therapists love those. I feel that it is important to the scientific integrity of our field to have the same standard activities that get used on a daily basis because they are great activities and they work. Some days, though, you need to add a little spice to your VT room, whether it is for patient motivation or sometimes therapist motivation.
In this particular situation, it was the parent that created this new take on a prescribed activity for her 2 ½ year old with an intermittent left eye esotropia. Yes, I have become the baby whisperer. (Somehow, my patient’s keep getting younger and magically I stay the same age!) I have been working with this little fellow since he was 17 months. Some of the Moms and Dads of these toddlers are just amazing, creative, and highly motivated people. I love that I often become the student with these special cases. Even if they can’t talk yet, these little people (and their parents) always have so much to teach me.
One activity that had been prescribed was a monocular fixation task with motor support that I named “Spider Smash.” This was my own spin off taken from my dear friend and former California co-worker Shirlee Anderson who has been working in Vision Therapy, as she would say, “since the dinosaurs.” She uses this sheet of paper with creepy, crawly ants all over it, and I just changed it to spiders because they were more accessible in MS Word / Excel. So, the page looks like this:
Take a fat tip marker or a self-ink stamper, pick a spider, aim your stamper a few inches above your target, and (carefully, with accuracy) SMASH down on that spider. I have also used colored circle stickers to cover the spiders for those patients who are obsessed with stickers and not very motivated by the stamper. The mother in me also hesitates to give a 2 year old a marker or anything with ink because, well, if you have children, you know what will happen there. Adding in some fine motor work with stickers is always a plus, too.
So, this little guy enjoyed covering the spiders with stickers, and over the course of a few weeks of working on that at home, he started covering other things with the stickers to give everyone “eye patches.” He loves animals, so he took one of his animal board books and put “eye patches” on all the animals. I never saw the final result, but from the parents’ description, it must have looked something like this:
Needless to say, we had a good laugh.
To be a great teacher, we must always be learning. When you stop being the student, there is little room for growth. I am grateful for all my VT babies and toddlers who constantly put me back in the student’s desk.
Stay tuned to Robert’s blog for part 2, if you want to learn about another super fun activity.