Thursday, July 9, 2015

Convergence Insufficiency and the Need for Vision Therapy

This has been a busy summer. I'm filling in the daily drives by sewing quilt rows (will I win a prize?) then I need to do some sewing for my daughter. She is outgrowing everything and is definitely wearing a young lady's size now!!! I'm gardening quite a bit and then in June I did quite a bit of dealing with medical interventions. I got my first two crowns, which is a total of 4 tortuous procedures because temporaries are worn first. My food list was knocked down quite a bit because I couldn't have anything hard or chewy.  Then my mouth was sore for days. They wanted to take out the temporary and put in the permament without novacaine but when they tried I about hit the roof.  I got 4 bouts of novacaine that month.  On top of all that I had an endoscopy thinking that heartburn was at the root of my  mystery illness last winter where I coughed for weeks (and then slept for weeks because of the heavy meds). I couldn't talk or anything. I have tiny veins so of course they had trouble finding a vein so more torture for the month of June. And of course for the procedure itself and the virtue of having heartburn limited my food list even  more. I have lost 15 pounds and still losing weight.  The results of the test though are thankfully quite good and I am to continue to monitor my diet so we can hopefully wean myself off the med.  Also the doctor and I talked and we agree that a lot of my problem is likely STRESS so I am to work on stress management which has been a challenge for me,
My son came home from college a few months ago and said he thought he had ADD (which I translated to ADHD symptom wise since I'm a teacher by trade and worked a lot with these kids in public school once upon a time). He has had an enormously difficult time keeping up with the aggressive reading and writing load.  This school he attends is all about an aggressive load and it's something he desperately wants. Over the course of his first year my husband and I have been blown away by his verbal discourse of all he has learned and all that he will be doing in his proposed major. Totally blown away in a mighty positive way.
I was too sick over Christmas to make too many connections for him because he was sleep deprived when he came home then and even more so when he came home this summer. In fact he was sleep deprived to the point my husband and I were quite worried about him. I talked to my son that he's got to sleep better at school because this could impair his health down the road. However my brain was a bit quicker this summer and I soon picked up the phone to call the vision therapist office.
My daughter had needed vision therapy when she was in college although her symptoms presented differently than my son's. My daughter has always struggled but once she got the concept, she owned it. If she got it...because in the course of treatment we learned that she is also weak in spatial reasoning skills so we continue to work on that.
My son has always been sharp as a tack, quick to collect information, and never really needed me to teach him. He is mostly self taught. He beats us in spatial reasoning skills with half his brain tied behind his back. However as he advanced in school years, he did start to drag, mainly in the high school years. I could never figure this out. I quickly dismissed a need for vision therapy because he had so many strengths.  I thought he was merely bored with homeschool, with me, and being alone when his sister went off to college.  He scored enormously high on his PSAT (was 98%ile and a candidate for National Merit Scholar) and on his SAT.
However now I was desperate. Although it costs a huge chunk of change to get an evaluation, and even more to get treatment, I told my husband we had to do this for our son. My husband was quite resistant because of the costs involved, but my husband has always struggled too, so I reminded my husband of how he struggled in taking tests for promotion and therefore got passed over even though his job performance was top notch.  My husband does not read books and the more I learned about vision therapy when my daughter was getting treatment, the more I understood what my husband has gone through and why he resists books.
That's one reason why I taught differently, with history presentations and art and science projects and field trips galore. I took them to Colonial Williamsburg all I could so we could auditorially get and experience what was difficult to glean from a  book.
My son scored very high in many areas and had the doctor laughing because when she pulled out a lens my son told her what those lenses would do with his eyes. She said she never had a patient like this before. However he did score low in convergence and binocular fusion. Now he can converge his eyes, and well enough to see fun puzzles he likes to bring up on the internet. However he cannot sustain the converge his eyes in the length of time required for reading a book (especially college books with tiny font, the tinier the font the harder the work) and for writing.
First he got some reading glasses which helps ease the work the eyes have to do. Then we started cramming in therapy sessions during the summer. We faithfully  do the home exercises daily. Now its a matter of time to see when the eyes and brain and the nervous system connect.
Because he is being pushed a tad (that is how we work out our muscles in the gym too) twice a week instead of one, the therapist told me that I shouldn't be surprised to see him sleeping a lot! His eyes were tired out before under all the strain of all the work and that would make him sleepy all the time. He slept all the time. My husband does the same thing! Give my husband a book and he's asleep before he finishes a page. It's too much work for eyes that do not have good convergence skills to sustain the work load. Now my son's eyes are tired from being pushed to be strengthened.
Hence, my stress. I have had to pray a lot to God which I do all the time but my prayers for my kids when they were little and he was a preemie in the NICU and my baby girl wasn't crawling or walking until the age of 2 then didn't talk until 3 hasn't changed much now that I do vision therapy with them.  I have to keep giving them back to God. He is the Creator and designed our bodies to work in a certain way. This is one reason why the education pedagogy fascinates me (I rececently discovered in my daughter's teacher prep orientation at college that Virginia no longer does pedagogy which quite upsets me. I taught to my many student's various needs because of my pedagogy background, but that's another story.) In this day and age of constant media diets our kids' bodies are not getting the proper sensory diet they need. My kids were diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder when they were toddlers so training in that has built my pedagogy and now Vision Therapy further enhances that.
There is such a rise in Sensory Integration Disorder and Vision Therapy needs in the younger generation due to heredity and media diets. In short, playgrounds outdoors are good! Hikes are good! Forests and beaches are great! They are the playgrounds that build the foundation for higher learning! That is partly what my blog is all about! I didn't have this blog (or ability to do so) back in the day when my kids were beginning their struggles with life.  My kids have such a great outlook on life despite all their struggles, but they are not complainers either. One of these days I'm going to start scanning old photos of my kids when they were little and share the stories of the early years! Meanwhile here is an article from our vision therapy doctor on Convergence Insufficiency and ADHD.  I have written this very long article for those in the same situation. I hope this helps!

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