Ms. D has always been kind of a mystery. Even when I was pregnant with her and she refused all efforts medical and alternative to budge from her breach position. I knew at that point this child was not going to fit neatly into a category of any type.
By the time she was "supposed" to start to walk she was scooting on her butt. You've all seen Lt. Dan from Forest Gump? How he "scoots" to get around?
That's what we called her. Lt. Dan. She got where she wanted to go and was happy doing so. But by 13 mos she wasn't pulling herself up onto anything. She was terribly content and not frustrated at all so there were no real big warning signs. And, as parents, we aren't the type to really be alarmists. We're more "she'll do it in her own time" kind of people, instead of the "my gosh does she have a label?" people. But by the time she was 15 months we had taken her to a round of Doctors. They were just as baffled, frankly. But in the end they came up with a vague kind of proprioception/sensory integration issues. I would read some of the issues kids with SID had and well, parts of them described Ms. D, but nothing like the difficulties these kids and parents went through. Ms. D's doctors couldn't even quite label Ms D in the "dysfunction" category 'cause she wasn't that bad. So she had therapy for about 8 months and was walking before we knew it. It's interesting because I can still see, as the doctors said "not a red flag, but more pink" in her physical activities, her picky eating, her sense of balance and so on. She's not as active because she truly doesn't seem to know "where" she is in her space. But I digress...
Fast forward to her reading delay. Hey, she's not interested right now I said when she was ages 5-7 and that's okay. That's the luxury of homeschooling/unschooling. No push. She's into other things. I read about delayed reading and academics and it makes me feel like that really describes Ms. D. Totally. She didn't have vision/reading issues. She doesn't squint. She doesn't have headaches, her vision is perfect 20/20 so I can't imagine there is a problem. Her first optometrist appointment when she was seven was fine. In fact, the
obnoxious doctor said not to bring her back for two years. Then I read something by Val on a particular forum that I visit. Val was responding to someone who was concerned about her daughter's reading. Val mentioned trying to find a developmental optometrist. Val has one million kids and a lot of experience, so I tend to listen when she talks. Something about what she said clicked with me and I thought it might be good to look into. I had that bit of homeschooling mom doubt that perhaps because we don't go to public school something was getting missed. Despite the fact we've visited the optometrist. Still, I almost didn't' make the appointment. Except David mentioned how if he reads regularly he can be a fast reader. But by and large he's a slower reader. Has to go over his words a few times. That made me think perhaps there is something hereditary that Ms. D may have picked up when it comes to tracking/teaming.
So I called aforementioned
obnoxious optometrist. Gee, they don't know of a developmental optometrist in the whole state of Maine. That was too bad for my concerns, now wasn't it? What is more they can't find my daughters records. I did what they could've done and googled. Except they would've looked helpful and intelligent in doing so. Instead they didn't. And I won't be going back. Oh, did my irritation at them just get in the way of this post? Sorry. By googling I found a developmental optometrist about an hour away and made the appointment. We went yesterday. And what follows is what we found out.
Ms. D has 20/20 vision. She has none of the signs of any problems. Until a few tests determined that Ms. D's eyes aren't working to well as a team. When it comes to things like reading especially. In fact, the kind Doctor showed me how if you took a pencil and tried to make Ms. D go cross eyed, one eye would wander away, not cooperating in following the pencil with the other eye. Kind of like this:
Yet Ms. D doesn't seem to have a lot of eye strain. She doesn't seem to be fatigued or tired after a particularly intense day of school. So who knew? After a few more tests the doctor said that Ms. D's eyes were not working as they should by HALF. By half. By half?? I couldn't believe it?? Where were the signs of this problem? A pamphlet I was given lists about five hundred million things to watch for like red yes, tearing eyes, crusty eyes, headaches, holds books to close, tilting head when reading, orients drawings on the page differently (what is different?? Isn't that creativity?) I couldn't find much that described her (surprise!) except these few: reverses letters when writing or copying, short attention span when reading, poorly spaced writing, and writes horizontally in middle of page. Out of five hundred million things to watch for, she has "sorta" four things. And that's just "sorta/sometimes" not always. And yet, the diagnosis was Convergence Insufficiency. Which is very common I'm told. Was there any way I was supposed to catch this? Would've public school caught this? I'm not so certain. Because check out what this woman wrote to Dear Abbey, or Dear Pauline or whoever she is now...Click HERE for article. Ms. D is, not in the least, having these extreme problems as this woman who wrote Abbey/Anne/Whoever. Perhaps a school would've caught it. Perhaps not. Maybe she'd just be "slow" or LD.
The great and wonderful news is this: It's really easy to correct. Ms. D will need about 12 weeks of vision therapy. It's like therapy for the eyes. She may need more than 12 weeks but the Doctor didn't think so. The Doctor would like to do a few more tests to round out the findings and make sure there isn't anything else going on in addition to the Convergence Insufficiency. When checking in with Val again on aforementioned forum she also mentioned that we shouldn't necessarily expect major results right away, but that the differences would show a bit later. With Val's kids their writing didn't take off until almost a year after therapy. A few others chimed in to say how vision therapy totally changed there kids learning. There are some other wonderful success stories here.
So I am happy, happy, happy to find that there is actually something that could help Ms. D and her reading/studying skills. I was never that shaken up that she was behind. I've always seen progress. Even slow progress and that is what counted. The biggest flag to me was that I really have to keep with her reading/spelling writing or we'd loose it all. It seems once she learned words she struggled to retain them. But only with reading. If we were learning in other ways, say verbally, her powers of memory and retention are HUGE. Almost abnormally huge. She can remember and regurgitate most anything. Not only regurgitate, but she can come up with conclusions, inferences and discussions based on that learning. And her reading comprehension is stellar too. So something wasn't quite working with the reading, but what? Just a delay or something more? That is the ONLY clue I had that something may not be quite right. And really, how vague is that??
So I'm thrilled to find something that can help her and also feeling a bit like a bad mom. Which is typical for parents, is it not? And what is in the future for our
little growing Lt. Dan? What other vague yet concerning issue will she come up with?
Addendum: Because not everyone chooses to look at comments I am going to add this particular comment to the post, in hopes that it may help someone. I also think Dominick agrees with me, although he didn't exactly come out and say so...you know, in so many words...that my first optometrist was indeed
an idiot not so sharp on the uptake of my daughters eye health when a) not checking for this condition in Ms. D earlier and b) not being able to find a developmental optometrist in Maine. Again, I would hate to put words in Dominicks mouth, and disparage his fellow optometrists, but a man who sings tenor certainly must agree with me.