Today, we have a special treat.... a guest blogger. I think you are really going to enjoy reading her perspective of Vision Therapy. Take a look:
Hello all! I’m a Vision Therapist in training here at Nashville Vision Therapy at Optometric Physicians of Middle Tennessee, and I’m excited to be entering such an interesting profession.
In addition to studying vision therapy (VT) and training to be a VT assistant, I have recently enrolled as a vision therapy patient! So for my first post to our VT blog, I’d like to briefly outline what the experience of vision therapy is like from a patient’s perspective, which may help facilitate conversation with a loved VT patient in your own life.
Vision Therapy can be a sensitive subject
Remember that while it’s absolutely true that visual-system insufficiencies in no way reflect a person’s intelligence or intellect, a VT patient might have a difficult time keeping that in mind. Often there is a negative connotation with the word “therapy,” and patients feel that they are not measuring up to “normal standards,” which may cause embarrassment. As this blog has outlined, candidates for vision therapy often have visual difficulties that have impacted scholastic and/or physical achievements, and patients may feel sensitive about their inability to perform at the level that their peers can. It’s important to recognize that visual difficulties are a legitimate medical issue, and are in no way the fault of the patient. Keep a positive attitude about a patient’s progress, and openly address any negativity or embarrassment with compassion. Understanding and support, in addition to reinforcing the fact that visual difficulties are not a failing of the patient’s mental faculties, will help bolster confidence and make vision therapy even more effective.
Vision therapy can be HARD
Carving out half an hour a day to do anything in our busy lives is difficult. It can be especially hard to set aside time to do something uncomfortable or unpleasant. VT can be a bit like hitting the gym after a long break from your regular work-out routine, or beginning a new form of exercise, like dance, to which your body is not yet accustomed. Vision therapy asks the eyes to perform in ways that they are not used to doing, and there is physical effort exerted to complete the exercises. While the benefits of vision therapy certainly outweigh any discomfort, recognizing the effort that completing vision therapy requires can be very validating for the patient, and can be great encouragement to continue. Just a simple “I know that this can be hard or uncomfortable for you, and I’m so proud that you keep doing your best,” can influence a patient to, well, keep doing their best!
Vision therapy can be lonely
It might be difficult for a patient to describe how he/she sees the world, or it might be hard for a parent or a loved one to understand their description. In any case, knowing that they see differently from most people can make a patient feel a bit isolated. One way to combat that feeling is to be very active in your loved one’s daily therapy. Helping them with tracking, checking their accuracy on activities that ask them to read letters or numbers, or just being present and attentive while they do their therapy every day does WONDERS for the effectiveness of VT. Your involvement can help the patient stay focused, feel supported, and feel encouraged if they are having difficulties. Cheerful, positive involvement every day can turn vision therapy into an excellent time to bond and demonstrate love and support.
Vision therapy can be fun!
There have been (and will continue to be!) many blog posts already that illustrate wonderful ways to have fun with vision therapy. It may even be a great way to set aside time for the whole family to be involved in one activity together (e.g. playing a vision-friendly game). The more involvement and outside support a patient has, the more likely they are to complete daily exercises, and the more effective treatment will be!
So to wrap up, it’s important to keep in mind that any type of therapy can be physically and emotionally taxing, and the best things you can do to help out your loved one in vision therapy are:
- Keep open and honest communication, and offer support and encouragement when necessary
- Be involved!
- Remind yourself (and your loved one) that there is a BIG payoff for everyone’s hard work and dedication!
I’m looking forward to learning and sharing more over the next months, and feel free to get in touch with us with any questions or comments about the blogs we post!