Blog Post by Mitzi Fagan
I love Vision Therapy! You’re probably thinking, “Of course you do, you’re a vision therapist.” But, my love for vision therapy started long before I was a vision therapist. Many years ago, when I was the mom to three young girls with three unique personalities, gifts, and difficulties, I had never heard of Vision Therapy. My middle child, Ainsley, had what is commonly referred to as a “lazy eye.” Our family optometrist was watching it closely and soon started her on a regimen of eye patching and glasses with pop bottle lenses resulting in little to no change. He mentioned, once or twice, vision therapy, but as he was retiring, he valued a second opinion from the new optometrist. She was in agreement. My husband and I were still hesitant until we realized how much it was affecting her schoolwork. You see, she knew her math facts and her spelling words, however she was unable to pass the tests. She could read slowly, with some struggles, but not pass comprehension tests. And so, at both the doctors’ urging and our need to help her succeed, we were off on a new journey.
The testing left this momma overwhelmed, and, honestly, a bit worried. What if this didn’t work? What if she gets worse? What if… then the thoughts of time commitment, financial commitment…after all, she was only in first grade. The therapists and optometrist were great at putting us at ease. Our girl worked hard. She cried, got angry, was frustrated, experienced highs and lows, and she SUCCEEDED! We, as parents, worked hard. We cried, got angry and frustrated, experienced highs and lows and worries, and REJOICED when she succeeded! The therapists were great through it all! They went through every emotion, every low and every victory with us. When she graduated the first time, only if you knew her very well, could you ever tell she had that “lazy eye.” Her eye alignment was almost perfect. And her vision improved in her left eye from 20/200 single letter to 20/40 single letter (just means she stills struggles a bit with crowding in a row). It was AWESOME!
My husband and I were both quick to advocate for vision therapy! We told parents to do the work…home exercises make all the difference…show your kiddo that YOU are as committed as they are…it is all worth it. We STILL tell people all those things. But if you were reading carefully, you noticed the words “first time” in the last paragraph. When she started struggling in school again, we were a little shocked that she needed more vision therapy. We even asked for a second opinion, but found out we were on the right track. You see, growth and hormones can affect your vision…and sometimes, you simply need more therapy. This is why I frequently say it is similar to physical therapy. I am so proud to say she graduated a second time fairly quickly. And we still try to do exercises to help her at different times.
She is my why. I have witnessed the life changing aspect of vision therapy through her. I have advocated and encouraged parents when discussing vision therapy. I have listened to the highs and lows. I have celebrated graduations. And now, I am privileged to be a part of journey with other kids, teens, and adults.