As irrational as it sounds, many parents blame themselves for their child’s functional vision problems. Did they miss a symptom? Should they have asked the doctor more questions? You could drive yourself crazy asking these questions, which is why parents have to focus on the present if they want to help their child.Parents always think about the “should haves” when it comes to vision problems. They lose sight of the fact that they eventually discovered the child’s vision problem, and instead beat themselves up. Here are the typical “should haves” we hear:
- I should have noticed the symptoms earlier. Symptoms of a functional vision problem - headaches, watery eyes, lack of focus – could be linked to a wide range of problems. Unless you’re familiar with functional vision problems, these could easily be confused with allergies, attention deficit disorder, or a number of other issues.
- I should have kept looking for someone who knew what the problem is. If your child's physician and/or educators didn’t consider a functional vision problem, don’t blame yourself. In fairness, teachers and doctors have many issues they have to consider; hopefully from this point forward, they’ll improve their knowledge of functional vision problems so they can help the next struggling student.
- I should have paid closer attention to my child’s complaints. This is a tough one, because children of all ages come to mom and dad with their complaints. Don’t all kids complain about homework? And if they do, should you immediately rush the kid to a developmental optometrist? It’s not until those complaints become a sustained pattern that a parent should sense a problem. Until it does, it’s hard to tell if the child is just being typical, or if there’s something else at work.
- I should have known about functional vision problems. Really? How could you? It’s not a subject typically discussed among parents, educators and physicians, although we really wish it were. The important thing is that you found the problem, and now you’re taking action.
- I couldn’t afford vision therapy. It’s tough to make ends meet in today’s economy, and when vision therapy isn’t covered by medical insurance, you’ve got a tremendous uphill battle. However, we are seeing more financing options for parents. We hope insurance companies will begin to take note of the efficacy of vision therapy.
- I wish I would have been more diligent about scheduling eye exams. This is a fairly typical reaction, although many parents don’t give eye exams the same gravitas they do a visit to the dentist. Plus, it’s easy to think your child’s vision is fine when they pass a typical school screening with flying colors. Note that even some optometrists and ophthalmologists are not entirely familiar with functional vision problems. Even if you had scheduled that exam, there’s a chance the problem might have been missed anyway.
Ironically enough, hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to functional vision problems. Instead of dwelling on the past, you need to put all your effort toward ensuring your child’s vision therapy. Look to the future and focus on the following:
- Keep your child on schedule with their at-home vision therapy. It’s easy to let this slip during our day-to-day lives, so use some of these scheduling tips we mentioned in a previous post.
- Work with your child’s teacher to create classroom accommodations. Communication is key, so be in touch with teachers, principals, coaches and trainers about your child’s needs. Pass along our Vision and Learning Guide to ensure they’re aware of important classroom accommodations.
- Help us spread the word. If you are still harboring feelings of guilt after reading this, then help us spread the word about functional vision problems. Forward our Vision and Learning Guide link to your friends, and make sure you "Like" our Facebook posts and retweet our Twitter posts. Social media is a tremendous tool for helping us spread the word about functional vision problems.
No one is perfect, and no one expected you to detect a functional vision problem any earlier than you did. But now that you know, use your newfound knowledge to improve your child’s vision and help others who may be suffering from a similar issue.