Category Archives: therapy

A Special Education

Dr. V. wore a pinstripe collar shirt and a light gray tie with small brown dogs printed all over it. It matched his personality. During my son’s assessment, he laughed at his jokes and answered every one of his questions, even the silly ones.

Dr. V. spent the last 45 minutes explaining to me in depth the results of my son’s vision evaluation. Not be confused with his eyesight examination. His eyesight was fine. He didn’t need glasses. If only.

The vision evaluation unearthed some concerns. While Dr. V. described oculomotor dysfunction, loss of fixation, accommodative level and facility, exophoria, convergence insufficiency, and visual perception, my mind raced into the future.

I knew where we were headed, because we’d been there before. Vision therapy. We would spend the next six months (or more) – including the summer vacation – doing twice weekly vision therapy, and it would break my son’s heart.

“Do you have any questions?” Dr. V. asked.

How is it fair that one kid has to deal with all this crap? Do you know how many doctors, therapists, and tutors he has? He’s 10! There aren’t enough hours in the day! Will it even help? Should I just let him be? Am I ruining his childhood? Will he like reading when it’s all done? Will his handwriting be neater and his homework be less unbearable? How do I know when I’m pushing him too hard or not hard enough? Does he know how smart, kind, intuitive, brave, and imaginative he is? Will he live a happy life? Does he resent me for insisting on these interventions? Does he begrudge me for not doing more? Will it get worse or better as he ages? Is it affecting his self-esteem? Is it my fault? Why do I have to be an OT, ST, VT, SPD, ADD, IEP expert? Why can’t I just be his mom?

“Why is this so hard?” I blurted out.

Dr. V. chuckled. “No one teaches us about this stuff before we have kids,” he said. “Being a parent is a special education, isn’t it?”


Dr. V. looked about my dad’s age. His kids must’ve been grown. He’d been through the hard bits. He was incredibly patient and had a comforting vibe that gave me hope that, in the long run, everything would be okay.

Still, I wanted to climb across his desk and inhabit his body. I was desperate to see my journey from his vantage point. I ached for my future self to tell my present self  that everything would be okay.

But, just as I knew I had to persevere and do the hard work to get to the other side of vision therapy, I also understood I had to persist and do the heart-filling (and heartbreaking) work of raising my boy.

Someday, I would be on the other side. Someday, I would understand the meaning of everything’s going to be okay, but it wasn’t my turn yet. I thanked Dr. V. for his time, put my son’s name on the vision therapy waiting list, and headed home.


Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!




Filed under education, therapy

The Root Of It All

I dreamed that my tooth fell out again. I know what the dream means: loss of control, helplessness and anxiety.  It made sense literally and figuratively. 

Here’s the literal stuff.  Last Friday morning, we paid another visit to Riley’s dentist because he said the boo-boo on his tooth hurt.  Since his fall, we’ve been to his dentist more often than I’ve been to Nordstrom.  Thankfully there was no infection, but it’s starting to settle in that there’s no end in sight to this dental ordeal. 

And now I have one of my own.  On Friday afternoon, my tooth literally fell out.  I put a mint in my mouth and half of a crown on one of my molars crumbled into pieces.  I just came home from the dentist this morning where I was informed that I don’t need a crown restoration; rather, I need a root canal.

When the dentist said the words “root canal,” I cried.  He was very sweet and handed me a tissue.  I told him to ignore my tears.  I said it was just that I felt overwhelmed (…and helpless, anxious, and nauseas because my world was spinning out of control). Don’t worry, I didn’t say the stuff in parentheses out loud.  On the bright side, the root canal comes with a goody bag filled with narcotics to help with the pain, financial and otherwise.

Here’s the figurative stuff.  This Thursday, Dylan begins OT sessions twice a week to tackle his sensory issues.  I’m relieved to get started, but I’m also anxious about the hard work ahead and how long it will take to make progress.  Also, without getting into too much detail (some things truly aren’t meant to be blogged about), I’m experiencing some tension with a friend that I don’t know how to relieve.

Yes, the teeth falling out of my mouth dream made a lot of sense.

I have anxiety.  Most of the time it’s manageable, but when things start to feel uncertain,or they don’t have a definitive beginning, middle and end, or they feel unfixable, or they catch me off guard, or cost an unexpected fortune, I get frazzled.  Amazingly, I just described motherhood.

So what do I do about it?  The Lorazepam I took on Sunday afternoon definitely helped take the edge off, but I have to try harder than that.  I must admit, though, it made me much more patient with the boys at bedtime.

I decided to look back at some of my blog entries on shopaholism, because anxiety is definitely at the root of that problem, too.  “Reading.  Writing.  Running.  Yoga.  Repeat.” was a good read and a reminder to focus on activities that I can control (and that will keep me away from the mall), like sorting the three feet high stack of junk mail sitting on my dining room table or watching a show on the DVR.  Yeah, “The GoodWife” sounds really good right now.  Besides that, it’s back to the basics for me, or actually, the new basics: Reading. Writing. Walking (still too hot to run). Dentist. Repeat.

Leave a comment

Filed under anxiety, dentist, sensory processing disorder, shopaholism, therapy


I have a friend with an amazing memory. She can remember first and last names of practical strangers or tell mewhat I was wearing at a specific event as far back as 1993.  That’s when we met. We were roommates our freshman year in college and have been the best of friends ever since.  Me?  I know what I ate for breakfast this morning, but don’t ask me to time travel because my long-term memory is bleak. 

The best way to describe it is to imagine a series of photographs pinned to a wall.  Some of the snapshots are of big life events – like graduating high school or giving birth to my boys – and some of them are random but etched in my brain – like when I got caught hiding medicine in the couch when I was a little girl and my mom cried, or when I dressed up like my Dad for Halloween, or when my Nana who suffered from Alzheimer’s told a waitress at a restaurant that my name was Amy (my cousin’s name).

I don’t know why my brain works this way, but it does.  As I get older, periods of time for which I once had movie-like recollections have become individual frames.  High school.  College. Graduate school.  My roaring twenties in New York.  I have a general feeling about these different times and a handful of snapshots that will stay with me forever, but the rest is a wash.   It’s kind of like my appreciation for music.  I can love a song without knowing a single lyric.  

Today, I’m filling out medical forms for Dylan that ask questions like “when did yourchild first sit up?” and “when did your child first babble?”  These kinds of questions are like punches to the gut for mama like me who found it too daunting to keep a baby book where such monumental events would have been recorded.  It never occurred to me that I would need to create a timeline of these developmental accomplishments five years later.  I also forgot (ha!) that my memory would eventually turn it all into mush.

Last weekend, Dylan went to a birthday party at an ice skating rink.  Fun, right?  For Dylan, it wasn’t. First, it was a big, loud place. Second, there was pizza. Forget about it.  Third, it was cold.  He wouldn’t go anywhere near the ice, and even though he should have worn long-sleeves and long pants, he wouldn’t.  He couldn’t.

None of these issues are new, and I’ve written about them before, but something clicked for me when this birthday party became such a struggle.  My memory might be fuzzy, but what I see happening with my child right in front of me is suddenly crystal clear.  Dylan is a stubborn kid, but something is happening in his brain and in his body that is preventing him from accomplishing some basic tasks. 

I’ve always said that Dylan processes the world differently.  It’s part what makes him so gifted and unique.  But, his inability to wear certain clothes and eat certain foods, and interestingly, his fears, anxieties, weak fine motor skills, listening problems and absent-minded professor-like qualities, might all be a result of a sensory processing disorder.

From the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation:

Sensory processing…is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receivesmessages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioralresponses.
SensoryProcessing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses.
Click here to learn more.  
So, here I am filling out these forms, realizing that my memories of just five years ago are already turning into mush. When did your child first sit up?  I have no idea, but I have a photograph of Dylan sitting on the beach in Naples, FL without assistance. He was about six months old and adorable.  It was his first time on a beach, and I remember (yes, I actually remember) as soon as we snapped the picture he started eating fistfuls of sand.    

When did your child first babble?  I’m going to have to call my friend with the amazing memory.  She stayed with us when Dylan was a baby.  If he babbled during her visit, she’ll remember. 

Leave a comment

Filed under food issues, sensory processing disorder, therapy