Wednesday, June 9, 2010

tracking issues, optical nerves and 97 percent

Ok, maybe I'm ready to talk about this. I had briefly mentioned that Ainsleigh's reading hadn't been progressing as it should. Comprehension - check. She comprehends the heck out of stories. She can predict what is going to happen next and has a great memory for what has happened. Her fluency...bleh. She's skipping words. Or swapping them out. Her accuracy isn't where it should be. A couple weeks before the end of school, Ainsleigh's teacher told us that, according to Colorado law, her test scores dictate that she be put on an Individual Literacy Plan (ILP). Her teacher seemed almost apologetic that it had come to this, also saying that 5 years ago, her test scores would have placed her within "normal." And with two weeks left in the school year, there really wasn't much they could do. I mean, she will go to third grade in the fall. The ILP will be reinstated and she'll get immediate attention.

93 percent of me is totally supportive of this idea. I get it. Let's get her help. Absolutely.

About 5 percent of me is totally overwhelmed with the idea that parenting is way more complicated than I even imagined. I'm tired from the whining and the laundry and the yardwork and the worrying about where we're going to get an income and making sure we have balanced healthy meals and do my children know how to swim and what if someone hurts them and did they say their prayers and family members who are suffering, literally physically SUFFERING, and how do I teach 100 children songs and now maybe I've volunteered to teach young adults how to cook and who is Justin Bieber?!


Sorry about that. Anyway, all that condenses to affect that 5 percent of me that just doesn't know if I have the energy to fix the situation. Or at least help.

(You did the math and that doesn't add up to 100, right? I reserve 2 percent for the part of me that refuses to accept my baby is growing up.)

But who am I kidding, even if the 5 was 55, I'd still find the energy. First on our list of possible remedies:

Glasses. Well, that wasn't first. First was taking her to an optometrist under the suspicion that Ainsleigh had a tracking problem. Her eyes jump all over the place when she reads. Granted, some of this could be chalked up to the ADHD. But the issue had been raised, so we decided to pursue it.

As the doctor did a series of tests, she did the "follow my finger" swirls-in-the-air routine I've seen a load of times. At one point, it appeared that Ainsleigh's eyes twitched. The doctor repeated the test, and her eyes twitched again. "See that," she said. "That's a tracking issue." It was the weirdest thing I'd seen all day (and I have Donovan around, so, you know). And cool. But also not cool because, well, it's a PROBLEM.

She did a couple more tests and then turned around and asked if I had a larger-than-average optical nerve. "Um, I don't think so," I replied. At least, not to my knowledge. She went on to explain that usually the optical nerve takes up 5-10 percent of the eye. Rarely do they see it take more than 50. Ainsleigh's takes up 80. Whoa.

She said that it could be Ainsleigh was just born that way. But, and this would really surprise her because it is so rare, it could also be an indication of glaucoma. Cue mild panic.

She then started to tell Ainsleigh about some of the tests they might run to determine if it was glaucoma. As she described a particular test, I nodded and said, "I like that one - it's like you're seeing little shooting stars or something."

Slowly the doctor rotated back around and, with a funny look on her face, asked, "You've done that test?"

Um...yeah. Why? Is that usually reserved for people with...larger-than-average optical nerves?

She chuckled and nodded. She probably wanted to roll her eyes. Now that I think about it, I recall a doctor telling me once that redheads have larger optical nerves (but that is a LOT larger). But I kind of ignore all the redhead lore (ear wax, pain threshold, etc.).

Second on our list is to have Ainsleigh read with her finger under every word, to help focus where she is looking. Hopefully she'll be able to progress beyond that before she starts third grade. We're also wondering if starting piano lessons would help train her eyes since in music you really can't skip notes. Ainsleigh is actually really excited at the prospect and keeps asking when she can start. But right now she and Donovan are in swim lessons for the month of June and I'm limiting them to one activity at a time, for my sanity, their exhaustion, and our precarious financial situation.

Third on our list of possible remedies: Vision Therapy. Look up "vision therapy" in a thesaurus and you'll find words like "expensive" and "really expensive" but also "very effective." As luck/karma/awesome would have it, I've become acquainted with a woman who has job experience as a reading specialist. While not currently working full-time, she is interested in keeping up her skills and has offered to work with Ainsleigh and teach me things I can do at home that can be in place of (costly) vision therapy.

It continually amazes me how wonderful friendships can be. We can discuss a whole slew of issues and then suddenly inspiration and blatant offers to help begin trickling in and suddenly I don't feel alone in what we're facing. I feel very supported and cheered on.

And then I'm about 97 percent determined to work through this. And 2 percent conflicted on the whole growing up thing. But 1 percent is still wondering why this Bieber kid is causing mass hysteria among adolescent girls.


wanda said...

OOOoooo she looks adorable with glasses on! I got mine in 4th grade but I suspect I needed them before that!

laura said...

Awwwwwwwwww Seesee! And I give it 6 months before A has Bieber posters all over her room.

(Sadly, it is not confined to adolescent girls. My 24-year-old friend has confessed to having Bieber Fever.)

Nataluscious said...

Ainsleigh=Awesome, so its no wonder she's got a big optical nerve. (you too, btw)

And I'm with you on the Justin Beiber thing - he sounds like a 14 year old girl. And while Keegan likes the Baby Baby Baby song (you should hear my tone deaf little love sing it - HI-larious!), Kailee - our musical prodigy (and in my family the bar is set really low) - thinks he does in fact sound like a girl. Bryan couldn't be prouder of her for that assessment.

Sarah Burgoyne said...

"redheads have larger optical nerves "... why does that make me laugh?! Must be in a "its late and I have yet to recover from our 9 hours in the car yesterday" mood.