So I wrote a little while ago about how my son’s teacher wanted to get him assessed for visual difficulties and dyslexia because his vocabulary is quite divorced from his reading ability.
Cue me hitting the roof and panicking about what was wrong. My friends nobly endured me, and if they quietly slunk into doorways/ dropped down drains etc when they saw me coming, they were generous enough not to let me see them doing it.
And then we got a cancellation appointment with the optometrist.She wasn’t a people person. Nor was she — slightly ironically since she’s a pediatric optometrist — someone who liked children (“Sit still! You’ll decalibrate the equipment.” “What does decalibrate mean?” [silence]) but she was very efficient.
Turns out poor S has a binocular convergence problem, which essentially means that although both his eyes are fine, he has problems getting them to work together, especially when he’s looking at things closely. Like reading.
He thought it was normal that when he brought something close to his face, it disappeared.
So all those times he was fidgeting and staring out the window or looking at the ceiling and I was telling him to concentrate… Turns out his eyes were uncomfortable and he couldn’t really see the letters anyway. Gah. Parental guilt.
Explains, too, why he stumbles over small words but not big ones (he isn’t seeing the small words).
So much for all that. We got a set of exercises which are supposed to solve the problem in “97% of cases” — so effectively, indeed, that the Scottish Government doesn’t think it’s worth having a follow-up optometrist appointment to check whether they have worked.
I desperately hope that by exercising his eyes appropriately for 2 months, S will be able to sort the visual difficulty and see like “normal” kids do. What makes me slightly unhappy, however, is that I can find no research to support this, and the figure of 97% doesn’t appear anywhere (how could it, I suppose, since there are no follow-ups?). Indeed the research I have found suggests that the exercises we have are not actually that effective.