Saturday, September 8, 2007

Realizing you're different

Well, it's finally happened. Yesterday, Sofie told Debra she was the "worstest 2nd grader." Yesterday was Free Choice Friday, which means when you finish all your work for the week, you get free choice...which for most kids means playing outside. Apparently Sofie didn't get free choice because she hadn't finished all of her work. She told me she was the only kid not to get it. I don't know if that was Sofie embellishing or the truth. My heart tells me it's the truth. She was pretty down on herself about it all. Ironically, I had just done all the research on ONH and I'm realizing her vision is probably causing her more problems than we've realized.

Last night, after picking her up from Kids Night Out at KIN, I broached the subject with her. I wanted to get a read on it myself, since Debra had the original conversation. Wow, she's really upset by it all. I explained to her that I'd done some research and found out that there are a lot of kids like her with a "not so good seeing eye"...that's what she calls her bad eye. The older she gets, the better she can articulate how well she does or doesn't see out of that eye. Sometimes, when she's cuddling on my lap with Yang Yang(her blankie), she puts the tag over her good eye as if she's testing the bad eye. She's very aware of the limits of that particular eye. Last night she told me she really couldn't see much out of it. I told her that without my glasses, I couldn't see very well at all. I allowed her to test it by having her stand a few feet away from me and hold up fingers while I took my glasses off. I had no idea how many and I said so. She said "Guess!!" So I said 5. She walked towards me holding up just 2 fingers. See, I said. I can't see either! That made her smile and feel a little better.

We talked about making changes this year. How it was going to be trial and error but we(the mommies and the teachers) want her to succeed and like school. I told her that we'd just keep trying different things until we found something that worked. I also explained that since she had trouble seeing, naturally it would take longer for her to finish her work. That frustrated her..."I hate this eye! It doesn't see!" I explained to her that she was actually lucky because some kids are born with both eyes that don't see so well. "You mean they're blind?" she asked. "Well, kind of...they see with both eyes like you see with your bad one." She had a look of understanding, as if she was getting it. I also told her that as she got older her vision might wouldn't actually improve, but the compensation gets better.

What does all this mean? Who knows. What's apparent is that Sofie is really articulating her differences and how it bothers her. That's all good. Unfortunately, it's affecting her self image. That's what we have to work on strengthening. We tell her we know she's a smart girl. It's just going to take a little more effort to get that work done. We're here to help her and I know her IEP team is, too. As Debra said to me last night...we'll just have to manage this like we do other things. We'll be her advocate and come up with creative solutions. I'm already compiling information for her teachers. At least it's a start.

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