If I had a time machine…

We visited the opticians with Henry this morning as I’d noticed that every time he sat down to practise his letters, look at key words or even start a little reading he, within a few minutes, started to rub his eyes. As I’d had this with his elder brother I had a feeling that his eyes weren’t working together just as his brothers didn’t. He was shutting one eye, fidgeting and just generally looking very uncomfortable whilst looking at his words and so today I took him along to not only get his eye sight tested but he also have a behavioural eye assessment; the test that sees just how his eyes work.

Henry thought all the machines were pretty cool. They were very large, had flashing lights and looked a little robotic so this, In Henry’s world, is very cool. There were no issues when he was asked to look into the machine, screens or put on eye patches (Mummy! I’m a pirate!!’) and he even didn’t mind the large framed glasses that the optician used to swap various different lenses to see what his eyes would do. He loved the pictures of clowns, hippos and ducks and thought it was cool when he got to use the 3D specs to pinch circles that floated in front of him.

The outcome of the various tests was that Henry is long sighted and also his left eye turns in which means his vision is blurred as his eyes don’t work together when looking at things roughly 30cms away from him. He needs to wear glasses for reading and also he is to have 5 sessions of vision therapy (a bit like physio therapy but for eyes) in which he will do various exercises and then he will do more every day at home. This will change the way his eyes work together and, hopefully, mean he can manage school a bit better. He picked out some Star Wars glasses which he cannot wait to get next Wednesday. I am for once not unhappy about the shameless marketing and gimmicky advertising to small children if it means that he wants to wear his glasses as they just have the words ‘Star Was’ on. If it makes him smile then this time I’m all for it…

So. At the age of 4 we are starting the eye journey with Henry. Something we didn’t start with Oliver until he was 8. Henry is getting the benefit of us having been through all this with Ollie and now we recognise the symptoms in him we can do something about it. Henry won’t have to feel that he’s stupid as people haven’t realised he can’t see his page properly. He will hopefully learn to write more easily as the dotted lines that he will follow on the page to learn the letter formation won’t move as he tries to look at it. He won’t suffer from excessive tiredness due to just trying to keep up with the class and he won’t, which is best of all, think that he is stupid because the person sitting next to him writes way more than he ever could. Henry may have other problems (calming down is one of them!) but at least seeing won’t be one of them.

I don’t have many regrets in my life. I’m quite a philosophical kind of person in that I do believe what will be, will be. I make the decisions I do at the time because of the information available to me at the time and although this may change in the future I don’t really ever regret major decisions. I think about things a lot and I ask lots of people’s opinions so I can get a more rounded view of different situations from all points of view but, if I had a time machine I would go back and get Oliver’s eyes sorted at 4 instead of 8. Yes he had an eye test at 6 and wore glasses from then but his eyes still weren’t working together and this meant that any close up work was incredibly difficult. The time machine would change everyone’s opinions of him. They wouldn’t say he had poor concentration, was just being a boy or a 5/6/7 year old in fact teacher’s may not have had to invent strange reasons as to why he wasn’t thriving when he was so clearly verbally able. (The first reason I was given with Henry’s difficulties in the first 2 weeks of this current Reception Year was that he may need to have his hair cut to ‘make him fit in with the rest of the class’. Yes. Apparently having your hair cut can make you behave…) He would have learned to write at the time he was expected too and he would thrive as he is now. He would love school and find it the fab place it should have always been for him. Oliver is very happy now and concentrates and is desperately trying very hard to get his marks up for his next report. He has pride in his work in a way he never did and as for his writing. To see my son sit down and complete his homework and produce a page of writing so easily when it was all so difficult still makes me quite emotional. I’m so proud of him and also much relived. My son isn’t a genius but he is quite able and all Hubbie and I ever want for our boys is that they fulfil their potential whatever that potential is and I can say that Oliver, for the 1st time ever in his 5 years of being at school, is finally doing that.

If I had a time machine it would be a pretty cool one. There would be patchwork throws, muted colour schemes and perhaps a sewing machine in the corner so I could still make things on those particularly long journeys back in time but in my time machine I wouldn’t want to go and meet any famous people. I wouldn’t want to go and visit a certain period in time to see some amazing event. I would simply go back and take my 1st son to a behavioural optometrist to get his eyes sorted. This would save all the shouting from me of ‘Why won’t you just write please???’ as I was getting more and more exasperated with him and the situation. He wouldn’t shout back at me ‘…because I can’t‘ and we would save each other 4 years of stress and worry. I don’t know how many times I’ve apologised to him since we have found out the reason for his problems. He looks at me and rolls his eyes and says ‘oh mum’ as only a slightly embarrassed 8 year old can do. He’s forgiven me and for that I love him even more. He’s also saved his brother by being born first, having the troubles first and the solution having been found for him (if a little late) and for that I love him more still. He forgives me but I think it’s going to take a while before I forgive myself…


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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2 Responses to If I had a time machine…

  1. Ruth says:

    Great blog, I’m a SEN teacher and you’d be amazed how many times I’ve heard variations of this story, but I was fascinated to hear about the behavioural optometrist- sounds great! I sometimes have to do Irlen screening as part of my job, where we ask lots of questions about reading comfort and visual perception, resulting in identifying a coloured overlay to be used when reading. The effect this can have on behaviour is amazing as some of the distortions can be very distressing and obviously make reading even more difficult. Sounds like you’ve got it sussed now, may the force be with them, and also with you! 😉

  2. cara says:

    Oh. As is often the case after reading your lovely blog, I’m sitting here all teary. If only any of us had a time machine, eh?
    There are a million things I’d do differently too ( I also have a dilemma that I am facing, without the aid of a time machine) but all we can do is to remember that we do the best with what knowledge we are armed with at the time and to continue to love our children, to the best of our ability, always.
    Let’s hope we can learn to forgive ourselves for the occasional mistakes that we made along the way.

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