a runaway train…
Back in April of this year, I wrote a post entitled the little battlefields, which detailed the visual and emotional struggles of my little friend, T. She was then 7 years old, was ‘beaten down’ (her mom’s words) about school, learning, and life. I remember the first day I met T and asked her how school was going, and she just started crying. She had essentially been told by her first grade teacher that she was stupid, and never recovered. When she came to us, she was halfway through second grade, and as you may notice in the original post, we had our work cut out for us.
T has worked hard, and we have worked hard with her. Finding a balance between pushing the envelope of her visual skills and softening the blow when she came upon something she realized was too hard was not always easy. She shed many tears, but slowly, at times microscopically, she was noticing progress. We made every effort to remind her of how smart she was both with words, and by setting her up for success. We knew she was smart, and in working her visual skills made every effort to convince her that she was successful yet again. Every activity was calculated, and every interaction discussed both before and after her sessions. Our failing her was not an option.
Of late, T has been smiling more and more. Her little sense of humor is starting to show itself and her confidence level grows, seemingly by the day. And yes, by no small coincidence, her eyes and visual processing have improved significantly too. She walks in with a smile, brags about her day in a third grade classroom, and her smile and affect brighten more and more with every successful move in the VT room.
Last week I bumped into T and her mom in the hallway while transitioning patients. They both were smiling ear to ear. Before I could ask what was going on, T extended her arms as if to offer a hug and I noticed that she was beginning to tear up. I returned the hug, made eye contact with her mom who said “the doctor just told her she’s graduating…and she doesn’t want to leave”.
I knew this was coming. I caught a glimpse of T’s perceptual re-testing the day before (we retest all our kids at the end of a full VT unit) and her scores were off the charts. I also heard from her mom recently that her school tested T’s reading level and she scored above the 99th percentile for her grade, and estimated her fluency, comprehension and decoding levels to be 7th grade level.
I pulled T and her mom into my VT room, let them sit for a minute and I asked…
“T, remember when you first started here, and I told you that my job was to prove to you that you are smart and that you can do anything you set your mind to?”
She nods yes.
“Do you believe me now?”
Again, she nodded yes through her tears. T’s mom went on to explain that her mind is amazing, and she’s learning and growing like a runaway train that no one can catch or slow down. Quite a different kid from the beaten down little girl we met 8 months ago.
This coming Thursday, T will be graduating from our VT program. I’m sure there will be more tears, probably from most of us this time, because saying goodbye to this little girl will be tough. Her life truly changed thanks to Vision Therapy and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.
I’m proud to say that we were able to have an impact on T’s life. I hope somewhere, somehow she understands that she had an impact on ours too.