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Vision therapy alleviates childhood behavioural issues

Since a very young age Jared has struggled with anxiety. Vision therapy unlocked his confidence.

Since a very young age Jared has struggled with anxiety, behavioural issues and a lack of physical coordination. He comes across to others as very shy or rude as he would not speak to adults or other classmates and avoids eye contact. He hardly engaged with other kids and would only play with a select few. He was considered the ‘shy’ kid in class who never caused any problems but was completely different for us when he got home. He would have meltdowns; screaming, crying, aggressive behaviour towards us and was uncontrollable at times. Homework resulted in screaming, head banging on the wall, yelling out “I’m stupid’ over and over again. We hired a tutor for reading but he would get so mad he would try and tear the book up and eventually we just cancelled her because he refused for weeks on end to engage. His reports cards to date had reflected that he was not meeting grade level expectations and was in learning assistance for both reading and math.

He had many sensory issues to go along with his anxiety: he would twirl his hair, had sensitivity to light, sensory issues with clothing, food and even the cutlery he was using had to be specific.   We had him assessed through our doctor and the mental health team as his behaviours have caused us concern for many years. We were told he had symptoms of Asperger’s but his anxiety was so high they could not properly diagnose at that time and to bring him back in 8 months after we deal with the anxiety. At that time we put him on anxiety meds to try and deal with some of his issues. It has been so difficult to diagnose his issues when there is such a spectrum of different needs: is he anxious? Is he shy? sensory issues? Depressed? ADHD? Asperger’s? During this time we never thought to relate this to his eyes.

Jared’s first eye concerns were noticed when he was 6 months old when the eyes did not align correctly. He went to a specialist and it was decided it was not severe enough lazy eye to need surgery and he also did not seem to need glasses at this time. When Jared was 5 his general optometrist put Jared in glasses and we did daily patching on his lazy eye for a year and a half.

He was still having trouble with coordination and constantly had bruises on his legs from walking into things. He fell off a cement wall in Grade 1 that landed him in the hospital with his first concussion, facial injuries and stitches. In Grade 2 he ran straight into a cement pole and ended up with another head concussion. He told us that the pole was not in front of him but to the side and he didn’t see it. At this point we went back to his optometrist. She noted that he might be having more vision problems than just glasses could fix and referred us to Dr. Cameron McCrodan.

When we first went to Dr. McCrodan we thought that he would be asking us about Jared’s falls and his concussions only and that’s what he would be working on fixing for Jared. When we started going through the intake process with Dr. McCrodan he questioned us about all aspects of Jared’s life. He asked questions about his behaviour, anxiety and his time at school. He seemed to “get” Jared’s behaviour and did not at all seem shocked by all of the issues we were having. He noted he has helped many kids with lots of the same issues Jared has.  He then got Jared to do some eye testing and it almost broke my heart when I saw Jared struggle with the tests so much that his eyes watered so bad he could not continue. Dr. McCrodan listed off a list of medical eye issues that Jared had that I still don’t understand but the medical names were not important to us, because all we heard is that Dr. McCrodan and his team could help Jared in many aspects of his life and not just the head concussions we had initially thought we were going to see him for.

We started vision therapy and of course it was a major struggle to get Jared on board with all the homework and weekly therapy he had to do. We put all school work on the back burner as we followed Doctor McCrodan’s advice and focused on fixing his eyes first and then the school work would fix itself in time. Weekly we would attend vision therapy with his therapist Sue. She had a great understanding of how Jared operated and has made the experience awesome for Jared. In time Jared was able to see the benefit that eye therapy was having on him and the homework became less of a struggle. We have noticed so many changes in Jared over the last year and half it’s hard to even describe them all.

His eyes no longer as much water and he is way less sensitive to lightHe is off his anxiety medicationsHe no longer twirls his hair and has less sensory issuesHe engages with adults a bit more and will ask for help in the classroomHe talks to his friends at school and is becoming more outgoingHe no longer has bruises all over his legs and has not had any serious fallsHe does all his homework at night without banging his head, calling himself stupid and ripping up booksHe is reading at almost grade levelHis writing skills improved so much that his Grade 2 teacher gave us an example of his journal from the start of the year to after 7 months into vision therapy. The difference was amazing. From half a page of lopsided, hard to read, messy sentences in the first journal to two whole pages filled perfectly in the second journalHe is more confident and has higher self esteem

It is so amazing how eyesight can affect so many aspects of one’s life. We are so glad we caught this early in Jared’s life and we feel that only more improvements will happen as time goes on!