A Sit Down – with Rob Truscott COVT
This post appears as part of a series called Sit Down – candid conversations with real people detailing their journeys and experiences with Vision Therapy.
A Sit Down – with Rob Truscott COVT
Interviewed by: Melody Lay COVT
For the benefit of our readers, can you explain how you are involved in Developmental Optometry?
I am the Therapy Manager for the Vision Development Team located in North Royalton, Ohio. On a weekly basis my group sees approximately 50 therapy patients. In addition to providing vision therapy services, I conduct weekly training for the staff and am involved in clinical support roles including administration of visual perceptual evaluations and report writing. Dr. Alexandar Andrich, our FCOVD, has been practicing developmental optometry for over ten years. His wife, Patti Andrich, an OTR/L and COVT is my immediate supervisor. Patti is also a INPP certified provider and provides primitive reflex integration – a growing segment of the practice.
How did you first hear of Developmental Optometry?
When we adopted our first child Madelyn from China, my wife and I noticed an eye misalignment but attributed it to life in the orphanage. Our pediatrician evaluated ‘Maddy’ and felt that she was fine and the eye misalignment was a result of a lower nose bridge. Oh how wrong she was. We knew that something was wrong and finally a friend from church told us to have her evaluated by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. During that same time period Maddy’s OT suggested we have her evaluated by a developmental optometrist. As chance would have it, my wife stumbled upon COVD while searching for a developmental optometrist. They directed my wife to Dr. Andrich and Maddy was diagnosis with ocular motor dysfunction.
Coming from a business background, can you describe the impact Developmental Optometry had on you to influence a career change to the therapy room?
Soon after college I discovered that I only enjoyed the “business world” in the abstract. My management positions were high stress, offered limited growth and the long hours provided limited to no personal satisfaction. In short – an excellent income but life draining. My first job out of college was for Shenango Steel Co. working primarily with union steel workers. That was quite a culture shock. I then worked for various restaurants in purchasing, store management and satellite store management. My wife and I had been discussing my future and overall career dissatisfaction and she suggested I contact Patti Andrich. Patti is an amazing woman and a personal friend of my wife Courtney. Patti was not hiring at the time but did accept my application. A month or so later, Dr. Andrich called me and wanted to talk about the possibility of becoming a vision therapist. He offered me a position and within the year I was promoted to Therapy Manager. My journey at the Vision Development Team has been nothing but positive! Working as a Vision Therapist gives me unsurpassed personal satisfaction. I enjoy helping children and adults achieve their functional vision goals. There is nothing in the business world that compares to a patient’s excitement when they see in 3-D for the first time, are finally able to catch a ball or read without words dancing across the page.
As a former vision therapy parent, what advice do you offer for parents to help make vision therapy successful for their child?
Having viewed therapy from both sides of the table, I would say that motivation is of paramount importance. All parties involved must be committed to ensure the optimal therapeutic outcome. No matter how dedicated a vision therapist is to their patient – the family needs ensure therapy appointments are kept and home activities are done on a daily basis. We are in this together! Vision is just too big a piece of the sensory pie to be neglected.
Often times, parents looking for answers get conflicting advice on how to help their child. What would you say to parents who are considering Vision Therapy for their child?
Because I have firsthand experience as a parent of a child that needed – and benefited – from vision therapy I tell them that I really do understand their wanting to find the best possible treatment modality for their child. Many parents rely on their pediatrician, family optometrist or ophthalmologist for guidance and unfortunately, in most cases, these professionals are either unaware of or do not fully understand developmental optometry. I reassure parents that our practice is dedicated to every patient that comes through our door and suggest that vision therapy is really an investment in their child’s academic, visual and life success.
You completed your COVT last year in Orlando, FL. What advice can you share with other therapist who are considering this road to certification or who are in the process for the future?
The certification process is very tasking. I found the COVT course work equal in difficulty to my college course work. Be prepared to feel overwhelmed at times. Just remember, the reward far outweighs the cost. Your new skill level will benefit all parties involved. My mentor Jenni Roeber was my Guardian Angel throughout the program. She guided me through every phase of the process. My experience was about as close to perfect as it gets and culminated at the conference in Orlando with Jenni and I finally meeting and having a great time together. I would advise all candidates to formulate a plan and complete the process in one year to ensure the needed continuity.
You are also a mentor for candidates going through the certification process. What led to the decision to mentor others and what has that experience been like?
I decided to become a mentor while I was going through the certification process. A goal of the COVD is to have more therapists certified and I want to help attain that goal. The reality of assuming the mentor position hit me as soon as I received my candidates’ first round of questions. I found out how much responsibility and accountability the position requires. In order to give my candidate the best possible guidance, I spent a tremendous amount of time researching answers and talking to my OD. I am happy to say that my candidate was certified in San Diego this past October. I am so proud of her. She is an awesome person and will be a grand representative for the COVT’s.
How would you describe yourself in the therapy room?
I would describe myself as being creative, patient and prepared. I love to have fun and enjoy working with all ages and ability levels. A large percentage of our patient load is special needs children and to quote Forest Gump, “you never know what you’re gonna get”. Some patients shut down and others act out. As their therapist I need to keep the session on track but also know when it is time to take a break or to try an activity in a different way.
Since discovering Developmental Optometry, you have been involved in RealEyes, Connecting 4 Kids, and the local autism community. Can you describe your involvement and passion for these organizations?
I have been involved in the RealEyes program for two years. The program is directed by the Ohio Optometric Association.
The program’s objective is to teach children from K-8 how to take care of their eyes. The presentations are fun and well-received by the children. All programs emphasize the need to see an optometrist annually. Vision therapy is a fantastic compliment to other therapies that special needs kids may receive so I participate in Connecting for Kids events, the Walk Now for Autism and the Cleveland Clinic’s epilepsy annual reunion to support to promote vision therapy.
I learned from your biography that you are a cancer fighter and survivor. Can you tell us about your fight and triumph in beating cancer?
I was diagnosed with stage four cancer when I was twenty-eight years old. My wife was in nursing school at the time and noticed a lump that she thought was suspicious. Sure enough I had a fast-growing type of cancer roaming through my lymph nodes and I was given a 70% chance of survival. The treatment for cancer is as awful as advertised, but the alternative is worse. I definitely gained a new perspective on life. Now I realize that every day is a blessing.
You have also achieved a title that few others in life attain…one of IRONMAN (and not the Tony Stark kind). For those who do not know what this entails, can you explain? Where did you complete your Ironman?
The Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 miles marathon. There are cutoffs established for each section and an overall cutoff time of 17 hours. I completed the Pineman Triathlon directed by HFP racing in September of 2000 and finished in a little over 12 hours. I still compete in sprint and Olympic distance races and train regularly, but time is scarce and walks in the woods with my wife, my girls and my dog Bella is much more fun!
Some Closing Thoughts – A great thanks to Rob for taking the time out for this interview. Rob’s passion for his work is surpassed only by his dedication to his patients and family. As anyone can tell, he truly is a class act!…and he’s an IRONMAN!! Please join us in wishing Rob, his patients, and his beautiful family the absolute best! 🙂