Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vision Therapy?!

Okay, I've been slacking. I'll have to talk about IEP's later, but this story needs a bit of a preface. At our IEP meeting a couple weeks ago, Carver's OT suggested we consider having him evaluated for vision therapy. She works with his fine motor skills and one day used kidney beans as part of their therapy. One fell on the floor and he tried to pick it up, but instead of grabbing the bean, he fixated on a red stain on the carpet and repeatedly tried to pick THAT up. So she started wondering about depth perception, etc.... I loved that she was thinking about the whole picture, considering how we might help him. I welcomed the suggestion. She gave me a few places to try and I set up a free screening for today at place in Bellevue with a certain Dr. (OD). I have to admit I was a bit skeptical going in. Vision therapy isn't exactly mainstream and I'm mostly a mainstream kinda girl. I'm going to try to be fair to him as best I can, but when I can't help myself, I'll switch to italics.

It was in a nice enough office in a medical part of town, near the hospital. The staff was friendly, there were toys, the doctor was exceptionally friendly. He asked questions, looked at Carver's eyes with lights, watched how he "tracked" a ball on a stick. Or, in Carver's case, how he did NOT "track" the ball on a stick. The dr. turns to me and says, "this is huge. see how he can't even follow the movement of the ball?"

Hmmm... my skepticism is growing by the minute. The room is fascinating, full of crazy optometry equipment, a video screen, files, books, computers, monitors, chairs, lights, the whole gammet. Everything I've read on SPD tells that in such a stimulating environment, they have a hard time focusing.

He asks him to name things on the screen, which Carver can do. He puts special lenses over Carver's eyes, follows them with a light and determines that his vision is unimpaired. I figured as much. But he also said that Carver has a hard time focusing on things up close (bringing his eyes together) and probably sees double. I think he ascertained that from the two tries he gave him to look at that same little ball on a stick. But the dr was between me and Carver and I'm not exactly sure where that conclusion stems from. The doctor demonstrated for me what it might be like to look at a written page and see double (not that I couldn't imagine this.)

He asked about our insurance, who it's through. I told him Blue Cross and he said, but what company? I told him Derek's employer and he said confidently, "oh, then it'll be fine."

What?! It's a small company. How does he know? Weird.

He kept pressing me to say that Carver doesn't want to look at books, that he prefers to do other things. But Carver loves to be read to. He asks questions, points to things, wiggles around on the couch like crazy - yes. But books haven't been an issue for him in a long time.

So he recommended an addition full evaluation ($290 out of pocket) and then personalized vision therapy. They'd look into insurance costs for us for that. I asked him what vision therapy might look like for Carver. He said that they do a lot of it at home now, downloading therapy homework on the computer and then submitting it back to the office. We don't have to come in all the time.

HELLO! Carver is 4!! He can't use utensils or pencils with consistency. He's supposed to do homework on the computer!?!?

Also, they do pictures that they can only see one part at a time without using both eyes together, using games and whatnot. That made more sense, but it's still pretty nonspecific.

He said a lot of crazy stuff that I won't be able to remember accurately. Here's the gist, without any of my commentary thrown in, I promise. He's been doing this for 40 years and can always figure out what is going on with kids. If he just thinks about it long enough, he can find the reason for their behavior. Sensory motor processing issues (he called it something like that) is really just that the kids are stuck at a lower form of development and they haven't reached vision yet (since it generally comes later in the developmental process). If you do vision therapy, it'll fix all the other stuff because essentially it'll fix his SPD. He gave the example of sitting on his stool. He relies on vision to keep himself there, but if you're wiggling all around to find the edges of the stool and understand gravity, that's just socially unacceptable. It's not wrong, these kids are born obnoxious, they just need to be taught to use vision to understand the world instead of their tactile senses. He recently went to a workshop where someone taught him that speech is related to our thought process because it's like talking in your head! (He said this was great enthusiasm, certain that he was enlightening me on this point, as well.) Vision is integral to this process. I'm still unclear how he connected that. Oh - maybe it was because if we could see what was really going on around us, we'd be able to communicate about it. I think that was it. On our way out, he asked about Carver's eating and said that we crave what we're allergic to and we should really consider switching to soy or eliminated wheat if that's what he likes. Talk about random, although food issues aren't to be ruled out. I just didn't think OD's were nutrionists or gastroenterologists. I asked how attention span played into it and I think he said that vision therapy would help him focus on things longer, that his behavior would drastically improve.

WHOA. I don't know what to say to all that!! Seriously?! He downplayed the importance of language, assured me that vision therapy fixes SPD because we just need to give Carver a new way of gaining information. It was absolutely crazy. I've NEVER met a doctor so completely uneducated in SPD - EVER. It was mind boggling.

Even with all my inward rantings and my outward struggles not to look at him like he's crazy while he's talking to me, I think there could be a grain of truth mixed in all of that mumbo-jumbo. I get the idea that helping Carver focus and track things with his eyes would help his ability to do fine motor skills. It might even help him learn to take in his environment in a more organized, controlled way. But we are not going back there. I'll look into another place or two and see what comes of it. Sheesh! What a waste of time. At least it was free.


Dominick M Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A said...
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Dominick M Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dominick M Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A said...
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Chris Howell said...

Good for you for exploring the possibilities with Carver's challenges and better for you for being open the spirit and taking in what was prescribed and diagnosed and then running it through your own screens of truth and knowledge. We live far below our means in the church, but I think you are taking full advantage of the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost.

Steve and Hailey said...

Okay who had the comments that you deleted? Was it the doctor, weird!

I thought this entry was SUPER interesting. I am always impressed by your resourcefulness. It seems like the most important thing you found is to continue considering the whole body with all of its functions as part of Carver's development. I'm reading a speech therapy book right now and that is a major component. I loved learning that! I wonder what other options you have for helping Carver with his vision...do you think he has double vision or perhaps just poor vision...? He is really super amazing (because of his amazing momma!). I'm so glad that you keep this blog. I read it often and I should comment more. Love you!

Ange said...

My 12-year old daughter has described similar scenarios. For example, she said that she tried to pick up her pencil from her desk, but kept grabbing and not getting it. She said her classmate was looking funny at her wondering what she was doing.

I know this post is a few years old, but I'm wondering if you ever come to any understanding as to what was going on with your son?

I'm not sure what to do with this new information from my daughter.