Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys
It doesn’t take very long, and one certainly does not have to look very far, before coming across someone who has something negative to say about Vision Therapy. If you ever need proof, simply Google the words “Vision Therapy and (insert your favorite negative descriptor here)” and you’ll see for yourself. Or, if that doesn’t get you there, peruse one of the Facebook pages which exist in full support of VT and read time and time again of parents who are frustrated, overwhelmed, and even angry after being told Vision Therapy would not help their child; only to discover after many other dead-ends VT was exactly what their child needed. We have a share of detractors, no doubt. If you should happen to be one of those parents who just want to yell and scream at another profession, or if you might happen to be one of the folks who are circling the wagons in preparation for a protest, allow me to illustrate the futility involved in such an endeavor.
The anti-VTers have been singing their song for as long as I’ve been around, and most probably, as long as the many who have been around even longer. The lyrics of their song change from time to time, but the message behind them is the same – they have the best answers, we are clueless, and somehow our charging for services is criminal while theirs is justified. Perhaps on a more personal level, someone, somewhere told a parent Developmental Optometry was a hoax which couldn’t and wouldn’t help. Then, seemingly in an act of desperation, mom and dad decided to give VT a shot and voila, problem solved.
There was a time when my most hated words were “I took my child to see Dr. So and So, and…”, because I already knew what was coming. I could finish their sentence for them. The message was going to be that we had been discredited by another profession, and now my job was to spend the next 90 seconds explaining the reasons Vision Therapy works, and why someone who graduated medical school disagreed. I would try to appear calm on the outside, but guaranteed, my blood was boiling.
I’d like to pause momentarily to ask a question: Have you ever felt so passionately about an issue, and then, seemingly at just the right time, a different perspective is floated and it leaves you questioning yourself to the point of rethinking your position?
It happened to me.
In August of 2013, COVD teamed with Dr. Bob Sornson in the release of an article entitled “It’s Time To Stop Arguing And Help Our Children!!” in celebration of the International Children’s Vision and Learning Month. I could paraphrase the article, but you can glean a lot from the title. Plus, it’s much more powerful if you experience the real thing. The article is pretty powerful, and for someone in my position, it forces us to ask ourselves a simple question about the naysayers:
Whose problem is this?
No matter which way I twisted, turned, or tweaked my response, the answer repeatedly was the same:
Allow me to explain. No matter what I do, whether it’s yell and scream at the top of my lungs, beat my head on the wall, run through the streets with a huge banner in support of VT, or find some anti-VT doc and suggest places they could stick their opinion, it’s wasted energy. It’s wasted time. It’s true evidence of diverting my focus from what really matters, the kids who need us, and placing it in the proverbial black hole unwinnable contests. The naysayers will always be there. Instead, as Dr. Sornson suggests, that same level of energy not spent on fighting back could be put to such better use in helping people understand what we can do, in educating all who are interested of the power of judicious Vision Therapy, and in spending my one hour per week with the many, many children who seek help in our office. That’s where my power exists.
How do we argue with that opinion?
I know, for those who are angry and revenge driven this seems soft and unsatisfying. I get it. So, imagine your anger and frustration in terms of gas tank which is full of gas. You can expend that fuel fighting against a force that will be just as strong and just as determined long after your gauge reads empty, or you can expend that fuel educating parents and seeking out children whose lives can be helped, improved, and forever changed in a Vision Therapy room. The choice is yours.
I choose the latter, not because I’m soft, but because that’s how we win.