Why VT? – Part 6 – A Special Addition
In response to my recent series entitled ‘Why VT?”, I received the following email this evening. It’s author allowed me to share under the condition of anonymity:
First, I need to thank you both for your blog and for having the courage yourself to tackle this difficult topic. You see, my daughter, who is now 16, went through nine months of Vision Therapy about four years ago. I knew she learned differently than her peers back in second grade but was never able to put my finger on what was troubling her. I am a divorced mom with three children (she is my oldest) and finding time to solve each of my kids’ daily challenges can become overwhelming. Her dad has not been in her life since her 5th birthday, and among the anger and resentment she has, she was struggling to read, write, and spell. In 4th grade I was told that she was a lazy kid who didn’t know how to apply herself and that she needed medication to manage her anger. When she was 11 I was told that she needed to go to a home where they could coach her on how to function in society. The day after her 12th birthday, she told me that the world would be better off without her. The next morning I rushed to the pediatrician’s office and he did prescribe some anti anxiety medication, but that seemed to only be a bandaid. To be honest, it just made her feel too sleepy to care. I spent many sleepless nights hoping and praying that this would pass, that she would wake up one morning and feel good. I lost count of how many times I cried myself to sleep. During her normal checkups, her pediatrician used to tell me her eyes and ears worked great and that this was just a phase. They didn’t know that this phase was here to stay.
One night I was on the computer looking for an special education person to help my daughter’s schooling, I stumbled across vision therapy. I didn’t know what it was or how it worked. I spent the next hour in front of my computer reading, and rereading, trying to understand if this could help my daughter. Convinced it was worth a shot (we had already been to a million other doctors), I called the next day to make an appointment. When we met [the doctor], my daughter was less than happy to be there. She went along with the eye exam though and when it was done, the doctor pulled out a checklist and asked my daughter to complete it. Within 30 seconds, she was in tears. She told the doctor that when she’s in class, everything on this sheet happens to her. Then we all started crying.
Like I said, I am a single mother and work two jobs, I am blessed to have family around to help me as much as I need. Vision therapy was expensive, but my parents were able to help with some of it and [the doctor] allowed me to work out a payment plan for the rest. Nine months later, my daughter graduated vision therapy with an entirely new perspective. She is now a happy and beautiful young woman who is looking forward to college after her senior year of high school. I found out later on that most of her sadness and anger was actually disappointment in herself, because all she wanted to do was make me proud of her by getting A’s. Obviously, we had a lot of healing to do, and vision therapy really helped my child function better in school and in life, which was step one.
Along the way, I told her pediatrician during a visit for one of my other children, that she had started Vision Therapy. I was surprised to hear that not only did he not support that choice, but he went so far as to call me a bad parent for pretending that was the answer. He even threatened to report me to CPS for not following his orders to medicate her heavily. When I refused to follow his orders, he mailed me a dismissal letter which basically said I was not welcome to bring my kids back to his office because of the “unfortunate choices made in managing their health and welfare.” It was pretty upsetting at the time, but ended up being a blessing.
I know vision therapy doesn’t impact everyone the way it has impacted my family and I know that some people don’t need it, but it changed my daughter’s life. She was on a path of frustrated destruction and no one could tell me why. It really changed everything for us.
I want you to know that people like you make a difference. You seem like an incredible person and I’m sure you’re an amazing vision therapist. People like you who spend their days fighting hard for the people like my daughter need to know that there are parents and families out there who owe you so much gratitude. I read your blog as much as I can and your passion for your patients and your love of what you do is very clear to me, as I’m sure it is to many others. So thank you!
I’m sorry this has been so long. I get choked up and long winded when I relive those days my child was struggling and it helps to explain it to someone who understands. I hope all your readers see how important it is to have their kid’s eyes checked by a doctor who understands vision therapy. I hope they don’t let other doctors discourage them. I hope they all find a way to make the money work, even if it means a second job and asking the doctor to work with them with payment arrangements. I hope that someday, somehow there is a way for everyone in the medical field to understand how beneficial vision therapy can be and how amazing its benefits are to those people who are really struggling with their vision.
My child was on a terrible path and who knows what she would have done had we not found vision therapy. It still makes me cry to even think about the possibilities. She was coming into her teenage years and you have heard the horror stories just like me. Vision therapy saved my daughter’s life. In the right situation, it can be THAT powerful. I want the world to know it!
And thank you. 🙂