Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vision Therapy Week 3

Week three was a HARD week for Liam and I. We both had several ups and downs. Therapy at home was taking up to 2 hours a day. That is a lot considering Liam is in Kindergarten from 8:00-12:10. I try to feed him lunch and then straight to work hoping to finish by the time we get his sister at 2:10. Week three was hard on so many levels. His therapy was harder this week then the two previous weeks. Because is was much harder it took us a lot longer. Lots of tears and lots of breaks had to be taken. We got the new exercises assigned to us on Thursday. While in the office the power went out due to huge winds we were having. The office was dark except in the area next to the waiting room, where people pick out frames. We pulled up some blinds and Dr. G said "do you want to try the therapy here?" I said "sure why not give it a try." Liam did extremely well considering the circumstances. He had an audience of at least three staff members, as well as patients showing up for their appointments not aware of the loss of power. Liam completed all his therapy and I walked out feeling confident in our week ahead. 

We started the exercises as usual on Friday. It went alright. It was long, but he was still willing to do them. Saturday it took us two hours, because he was struggling. We had plans to go to a friends house for dinner so he kept going, because he did not want to miss out on the fun. Sunday is when everything went downhill. He threw a two hour tantrum refusing to do therapy. It was so hard on me and him. I felt like the worse mom in the world, because I had to be the "bad" guy. I told him he could not get out of the chair until he agreed to do his exercises. He screamed and cried in the chair telling me he was never going to open his eyes again. He also said he was going to rip everything off the walls when I went to bed and never do them again. After a while I could not sit there with him, so I got up and started to make dinner. I told him "when you show me you are ready by standing up and putting your red/green glasses on I will stop what I am doing." It was so hard standing my ground, but I kept thinking if I give in at this moment he will have my number and do this every day to me. Finally he gave in and we did the three hardest exercises. We had lots of tears for those three exercises, but when he was done he gave me a BIG hug and ran off to play. We ate dinner and after dinner he said "mama I would like to finish my exercises". I was so relieved and when dinner was done he sat down and finished. I was so proud of him. 

Monday morning after I took the kids to school I drove to see if Dr. G was available to chat. Fortunately she had 15 minutes between patients. She is amazing with so many encouraging words and great ideas. One that we came up with was that Liam could pick a day to have off. Instead of doing therapy 7 days a week he could do it 6 days a week. Then next thing she said was to tell him that if he completed the rest of his exercises for the week she would give him a break on the red/green glasses and Brock String. I knew this would be a key one, because he hates the red/green glasses and brock string.  I felt pretty good leaving her office and went home and got on Facebook.  There is a closed group that gives support to parents who are doing VT with their kids. All of them had amazing advice for me. The most frequent was BRIBE!!! It was so nice to hear from other parents that is was okay to bribe. I am not a fan of bribing, but in this case it is needed. You are asking your kids to do exercises that are hard and can make them dizzy, nauseous and give them headaches. They need some kind of reward when its done. Its hard for them to understand that when this is all said and done they will see better. In most cases these kids don't understand that they can't see. Liam tells me all the time "I am all better mama, I can see now." My response to him is always "Liam if you were all better these exercises would be easy." Its not that these kids can't see, its that they can't focus, track with both eyes, or see 3-D etc.. Most have compensated in one way or another and don't know any different. So making them understand they will be better when they don't think anything is wrong is hard. 

After all the advice from strangers, friends and family we came up with a plan. Liam was super excited to take a day off. He chose Sundays because its hard to do exercises when daddy is home from work. I don't blame him, it is hard to not being able to play with daddy the whole day. He did improve and get his exercises done on Tuesday and Wednesday because he wanted a break from the red/green glasses and brock string. In fact when we saw Dr. G on Thursday last week he said "I did all my exercises so no more glasses or string right?" Dr. G said "yes Liam that is right you get a week off." 

The next bribe or incentive that we are doing which was Liam's idea, was to go to Barnes and Noble Book store and play with the train set. So the deal is if he doesn't throw a huge fit all week, then we go play on Fridays after school. He also has come up with the idea that when he finishes his exercises for the day he gets a piece of gum. I can do this one with no problem. The last thing I did was had my husband have a chat with him. My husband works very hard and long days. He isn't present when we do the therapy. In Liam's mind I am the mean mommy that makes him do these awful exercises. My husband told Liam that he needed to do the exercises with no fits. He also said that he expected to get good reports from me when he got home. He asked Liam to make him proud and to do the exercises and make him proud. I wish I had the magic like my husband, but I don't. Liam took him seriously and I feel that this is another reason why its going smoother. I am so grateful to have a partner in this. Even though he isn't present for the therapy, Liam at least knows daddy has mommies back. 

All in all I am so grateful week 3 is over. It was a rough one, but I learned some new tricks. The last two days of the exercises he improved quite a bit. It is hard to really pinpoint how he improved last week because we changed some stuff up mid week. But overall we saw some positive changes. As I type this we are in week 4 and let me tell you it is a 100 times easier this week!


  1. One way to look at "bribes" is to call it rewards like you mentioned. At our office, we have a celebration box which is their "reward". They get to pick out one thing from the celebration box just for showing up and if they put in effort and/or accomplished something, they get a 2nd thing. A lot of VT kids, especially those who have learning problems often feel like they are failures and don't look for areas where they do succeed. I would like to encourage you to always look for something to celebrate about after each session and again at the end of each week and think of the "reward"/"bribe" as a way to celebrate! This way, they still have motivation from a "bribe" but you also teach them to look for the successes and to work towards their goals.

    1. Dr. J Yeung thank you so much! I love this idea. I will be incorporating this into my daily and weekly sessions. Calling it a "reward" is so much better and celebrating his accomplishments is brilliant! Thanks again!