You might be thinking to yourself, what in the world do these three things have in common? In a normal setting, these three things have absolutely nothing to do with each other. They seem to be random utterances to most people, but I have found everything in my life is unplanned and unmistakenly random.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks in our quest to achieve literacy. Our tale begins with an average ordinary visual checkup to update Os prescription in hopes this will help with her performance in reading and writing. We decided to change offices specifically for O so she can be followed more closely by her developmental optometrist to ensure there isn't a regression after we have reached our vision training goals. At the end of our appointment, the doctor mentioned something I never thought I would hear. Bifocals. For. A. Kid.
I was stunned. My personal experience with bifocals began when I was 21 years old. I remember telling my own mother what the eye doctor prescribed. I hesitated, "before I tell you please promise you won't laugh." She promised so I confided that the optometrist thought I needed bifocals. Her response? "That's not funny." I can still feel her shock and disbelief through the telephone. That is the EXACT same feeling I had at that moment. Sure, bifocals for a 21 year old is not unheard of. But for a seven year old?
I'm sure the doctor must have seen the tear slide down my cheek becuse she quickly reassured me. The thoughts that are running through my mind consist of worrying that O will fit in with kids her age and whether or not she would tolerate two lenses with a noticeable line. Those are the same things I worried about when I first started to wear them at 21. I can't even imagine at age 7.
Pure and simple. It's vanity. It is the very reason I refused to wear my glasses over the years. I was advised the lined bifocals were better for the brain to learn how to use the lenses correctly. In children, the polycarbonate version only come as lined lenses. Later in life she can choose the no line variety or even try contact lenses. Years ago I was told they could not manufacture contact lenses with a bifocal prescription but now technology has changed to accomodate those with accomodation insufficiencies.
Accomodation insufficiency is one of the multiple eye disorders O lives with on a daily basis. Accommodative insufficiency affects a child's ability to change their focus from near to far. This eye disorder can cause difficulties in physical activities, development, and school work. Similar to O's circumstance, these children can be misdiagnosed as learning disabled or other problems. Bifocals, or what I like to call Kidfocals, can help master simple tasks such as reading, writing, and copying from the board. Children are not prescribed bifocals to improve vision, but to keep their eyes working together (eye teaming) and develop properly.
This rationale makes it an easier pill to swallow. My husband and I are willing to try anything to improve O's reading ability. One of the hardest things for me to personally reconcile about her diagnosis, is that we keep looking for more. More solutions. We have tried almost everything (and spent a lot of money) to help O succeed at literacy. It has been a very long road with some pretty awesome accomplishments, but no earth shattering changes in her confidence which is the root of her success. She still thinks she can't do it. Everyday is a constant battle with manipulation, avoidance, and surrender.
Due to the pandemic and to my dismay, Walmart is not fitting new prescriptions, and that is a huge disappointment. With two growing children requiring glasses to include a backup pair, who wants to pay an arm and a leg for glasses? Bifocals, I mean, kidfocals are expensive and what child ever takes care of their things? Both of O's current frames are held together by duct tape and glue with multipe scratches all over the lenses. It's time to bite the bullet and its imperative to sell the concept to the girl child. While she was in her training session, I picked out a few frames for her to try on. I had been eyeballing these pretty "My Little Pony" frames whenever I would wait for O to finish her training sessions. I expected them to be "over the top" expensive but was pleasantly surprised to find they were relatively affordable with insurance.
I presented the frames to O when she finished eye training. She squealed with delight when she saw the little "cutie mark" on the arms of the frame. If you ever wondered what the little picture on the MLPs backside is, it's called a cutie mark, the mark of friendship. She instantly recognized the apple cutie mark as "Apple Jack" and the balloon cutie mark as " Pinkie Pie." She was ecstatic as she exclaimed,"I get to be a different pony everyday!" The lady who helped me with ordering the frames was very helpful in explaining to O about the "kidfocal." She revealed the kidfocal was going to look like a little smiley face on her glasses and drew her a picture on the lens so O could visualize it. O was absolutely mesmerized. SOLD.
So, where do the giraffes come in? Well.... a colleague of mine referred me to a reading tutor who has done wonders for her child. She currently works as an elementary school teacher who tutors in reading for extra cash. She came highly recommended so it's worth a shot to prevent the "summer slide," especially since we have been out of school for three months already. We recently had our first session so she could assess O's ability to sound out words phonetically and spelling. She still has an extremely difficult time with these simple tasks and resorts to her usual manipulating and avoidance behaviors.
Our first book was a read aloud book from youtube, "Giraffes Can't Dance" by Giles Andreae. The premise of this children's story is about a giraffe named Gerald who is very tall and very clumsy. During the annual jungle dance all of the other animals danced various dances ranging from the waltz, tango, cha cha, etc... However, Gerald was very bad at dancing because he was so clumsy, so the other animals laughed in his face and made fun of him. He felt useless and foolish and ran away into the moonlight. A cricket came upon him and told him that sometimes "when you're different, you just need a different song."
The cricket played Gerald a violinist tune and Gerald began to dance gracefully in time with the song he heard playing from the moon, leaves, and breeze. The other animals witnessed this sight in amazement and begged to learn his secret. Gerald simply replied, we can all find music when we find music that we love."
Moral of this story as adapted from our new friend and reading tutor: "We can all read when we find out what we love to read about." Now is the time to go and get it.