A few Fridays back Mother Nature gifted us with a half foot of snow and an instant three-day weekend. This meant Clay had no chance to stretch his legs outside, so I was happy we had an occupational therapy appointment scheduled in the afternoon with Marjorie Cases.
Marjorie and her staff allowed us into the therapy room early to use the swing, which has a calming effect on Clay. When Marjorie came in, he was ready at the gate for his hour-long session.
Marjorie—who told us a few weeks prior that she is having a baby—was looking more like a mom-to-be, with a striped t-shirt hugging the little one growing in her belly.
But Clay, we quickly found out, was not so thrilled with her wardrobe choice.
“you look like my lollypop,” he typed a few minutes into the session.
At first we thought he was joking and laughed, but then I wondered if there was more to this remark and asked him to elaborate.
Knowing he has convergence issues with his eyes, Marjorie asked him if the stripes moved. Clay told her they did.
“That comes from your eyes,” she said. “They probably make me look distorted. I can see that your left eye is turned in, so it’s probably not a good vision day.”
Clay replied: “yes you fool my eyes.”
I lent Marjorie my black cardigan sweater to cover the stripes, and Marjorie worked to release the tension she felt in the back of his neck. She explained to Clay that this, along with different ways of spinning on the swing, actually help the eyes communicate with his brain better. His brain, she told him, has to work twice as hard to process visual information.
Marjorie brought in a pair of non-prescription lenses and covered the left eye so Clay only had to use his dominant right eye. Knowing how sensitive he is around his face and head, she introduced the lenses for short periods of time and in various methods.
“they made me feel better,” he typed.
“Your eyes feel the same way people feel when they enter a carnival funhouse. Can you believe people pay to feel like you do all the time?”
While it was only a baby step, it was clear that Marjorie was onto something. Clay began to slow down and reduce the self-talk—what he calls “festive noise”—that he desperately wants to control. The goal is to get Clay in a place where he can then work with a developmental optometrist, but we need to take it slowly. He left, as usual, with a smile on his face.
As we drove home, I thought about how confusing the world must look through Clay’s eyes. I am amazed at how well he compensates for his vision problems by orienting with his body through movement, finding his spacial awareness in corners of rooms and small spaces, and often favoring his peripheral vision.
No wonder ball sports are so overwhelming. And no wonder he moves around so much.
Now, every time I see a swirl lollipop, I’ll remember this day and how Clay helped us better understand how he sees the world.