When a Child Struggles, the Whole Family Struggles

by Dr. Leonard Press

Collectively, the doctors that form this vision help network have had the pleasure of meeting with hundreds if not thousands of parents during case conferences. Getting to know parents better, and having a more complete of understanding of their child and family situation, is an important ingredient in the vision therapy process. There are children for whom we have not recommended vision therapy either because our clinical findings did not support the need for vision therapy, or because we did not feel that the child would benefit at the time.

In some instances we’ll find that the child needs other interventions to complement vision therapy such as OT, PT, auditory, or psychological counseling. Frankly, though, in most cases the parent comes to us after already having been “through the mill”, so that many of these other issues have already been explored. There is a special type of child, however, who sometimes falls between the cracks, and deserves mention.

We’re referring to the child who isn’t a behavior problem, and who the school thinks isn’t “bad enough” to have evaluated by the Child Study Team. After all, he or she seems to complete assignments, do okay on tests, and isn’t a behavioral problem in school. What teachers or administrators don’t see, however, is all the work that goes on behind the scenes implemented by one or both parents.

When homework takes hours and hours each night, the family dynamic inevitably suffers. A child may have problems with self-esteem or even guilt, seeing all the effort that’s required by a parent or older sibling to help her get by. And not all children in this situation will act out, or become the class clown, because they feel frustrated with all the effort involved. Those who do are often flagged by the Child Study Team, pegged for years of resource room help, and increasingly put on medication.

The bottom line is that when vision or visual processing issues are left untreated, families are left to struggle needlessly.