Building Awareness – Part 1
Asking The Question
Have you ever worked with someone who just rubs you the wrong way? No matter what they do, or say, or even try, you just can’t help but be annoyed? Have you been so continually frustrated with someone on a daily basis that after a while it seems that they can’t even breathe correctly? Surely, most of us can relate. With that thought in mind, picture one of these two scenarios:
- You find out, basically by accident, that the person you find troubling has recently suffered a traumatic event in life, such as the death of a child, spouse, or parent. For this loss, they are being treated psychologically, and still working to put the pieces back together. Things have been tough, yet they still feel compelled to be a productive member of society by showing up to work everyday. Suddenly, you realize that you mistook their show of strength as a show of weakness.
- You decide to bite the proverbial bullet and invite the person out to lunch. The conversation quickly turns to stress in the office and your new friend shares with you that they feel completely lost because they were not adequately trained in the areas which they are being asked to perform; unbeknownst to you. Once you help them facilitate better learning, you realize that your assumptions about their attitude and work ethic were completely backwards. They actually do great work and have a great attitude, and just needed some further explanation.
My point here is that so much of what we do in life, and by extension in Vision Therapy, is about perspective. Yours, mine, and the people around us. A lot of us do pretty well appreciating someone else’s perspective when we have the needed awareness, but admittedly, there’s times where that appreciation can be tough to come by. Like the two scenarios above, our perspective was in one place when the story began, and most likely in a far different place when it ended – because our awareness increased.
In Vision Therapy, we often ask lots of “awareness” questions. Things like – how do your eyes feel? where does the picture seem to be? can you tell me if anything has changed? – and so on. Be you a Vision Therapist, parent, patient, or janitor, anyone in a VT room for more than three minutes will hear the question asked. Guaranteed.
But what are we really asking? Are we asking if they really see the virtual image appearing out the window? Are we asking if their eye muscles are over worked? Are we asking why some things in out VT room defy logic?
My best answer is yes. And no.
All this to say that I had a “light bulb” moment today. Or as my dear friend, Dr. Bob Sanet, calls it, an “a ha” moment. My dots are connected, and the plane has landed.
Every question we ask in VT revolves around one very basic concept, and that is awareness. Think about it, vectograms, Marsden Ball, lenses, parquetry, attribute blocks, and every saccadic activity I can think of come back toa patient’s current level of awareness:
Here are a few questions that I ask almost everyday which are completely and totally rooted in awareness:
- Are your eyes on the ball?
- Is the picture single and clear?
- Can you show me (or tell me) where the picture appears to be?
- Can you use your periphery to locate the target before moving your eyes?
- Did the picture get smaller first, or closer first?
- What are your eyes doing?
- Can you be aware of where your body is in space?
All these, any many more like them, are basically different angles to the same question:
What is your current level of awareness?