Playing In The Mud…
If you were to call ten of my closest friends and ask them to name one of my finest qualities, my guess is more than half of them would say my sense of humor. Then again, if you were to ask those same people about my most disturbing quality, my guess is their answer wouldn’t change.
I’m proud of that.
My last post was intended to poke a bit of fun at myself after a very long and stressful week. I had “bumped into” something with a young lady who comes to see me every Friday morning, and upon retrospection, it donned on me just how ridiculous it may have looked and sounded to an outsider.
We sat on the floor. There was talk of mud. There was talk of whales. There was talk of big blue balls. It must have sounded ridiculous.
Still, not bad entertainment for 8am on a Friday morning. One doctor even emailed me after reading about my folly to ask for suggestions in teaching her therapists to be “more like me”.
Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes I even scare myself.
Not to be lost, though, is the element of truth that lies in jest. It really was a great session and this young lady showed some real promise in her budding schemes and comparative language.
But why should this matter? Why be so impressed with a 5 year-old girl who compared everything to mud?
If you’ve ever watched the old P.A.V.E. video, you can attest to the featured speakers making some incredible points on the importance and effectiveness of Vision Therapy, and in particular the difficulties with the integrating of the input systems. Sure, our avenue into our patients’ world is visual, and while vision is occurring all of those other systems need to coincide and commingle so that the brain can formulate a plan of action. Oh, and by the way, this has to occur in a millisecond’s time, over and over and over again. A sticky point to consider here – the information needs to align and/or match up in near perfect fashion. When it works well, humans tend to be quite successful. When it works poorly, well, imagine walking thorough life in one of those black and white movies where the audio is two or three seconds behind the picture.
I’ll be honest. I change the channel.
The point I’m trying to make here is there is more than one route to success; or in visual terms, vision is a two-way street. Would it have been better for my little 5 year-old friend to work her visual discrimination, visualization, and visual-verbal integration in some more direct and visually stimulating manner?
But a key to successful therapy always includes presenting opportunities and observing the outcome; or to be a bit metaphorical, keeping all doors open to see which one a patient may walk through. Were we working on her visualization skills by discussing mud and comparing it to the random objects she found in my room?
Visual-verbal skills do not just involve discussing the images you see; they also involve seeing the images you’re discussing. Remember, a two-way street. Because challenge is key to achieving growth, and growth is key overcoming challenge. So when we started discussing mud, it was clear to me that my little friend had some first-hand knowledge and was able to apply that knowledge quite correctly within the conversation. Was it planned? I wish I could say yes! As I said earlier, I just bumped into it.
The experience was a good reminder to start where they are. Find something real; anything your patients know or understand and use that as a starting point for conversations like this. We think in language, and that language has to be in some way representative of the world we live in and the visual input we’re processing while trying to align in those milliseconds of time. The more real we can make the experience in Vision Therapy, the higher chances we’ll have of offering our patients something wonderful when they graduate.
Sometimes, that starting point will involve fixation disparity. Sometimes, inverse logic. And sometimes, it will just involve mud.
That’s how it works.