Marisa writes at The Speech Language Momologist. She has a great post about learning that her son needed glasses at age 3. It’s absolutely worth a read, especially as she talks about how hard it can be as a parent to take in difficult news about your child. She also mentioned a book that she made for her son to help him get accustomed to the idea of wearing glasses. I loved that idea and wanted to hear more. Luckily, Marisa was happy to share a bit more about that. Many thanks to Marisa! – Ann Z
When I first found out my 3 year old son, who I never suspected of having vision problems, had to wear glasses, I was hysterical. I cried my eyes out every time I thought about it, experienced guilt, shame, worry, anxiety, and fear, and basically just wallowed for days. Once I moved passed this roller coaster of emotions and got myself together, I knew that I had to do something productive. I called upon my professional knowledge and expertise and thought of a way I could help my son as he became a “little four eyes.”
As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve worked for many years with children on the autism spectrum. One of the things I had to always be aware of was that children with autism often have difficulty experiencing something for the very first time. They benefit greatly from what we call “priming,” which is preparing them for this new experience by letting them know what to expect. I think, and of course to a lesser extent than the children I worked with, we all have a fear of the unknown. I’ll use myself as an example. Never having had experience with a diagnosis of astigmatism and anisometrophia nor ever having a young child wearing glasses, I feared what was to come. So what did I do? I googled. I wanted to know what the diagnosis actually meant and what to expect being the parent of a young child with glasses. That’s exactly how I came to the Little Four Eyes website and Facebook support group.
Now, the children I worked with weren’t about to search the web to make themselves feel better, so along with my colleagues, we would present them with as much relevant information as we could. We had to find ways to make it child friendly. Sometimes just talking can be overwhelming, so a book that provides pictures, short chunks of information and a little fun can do just the trick.
This was what I decided to do for my son, who was about to get his very first pair of eyeglasses. The title of his book was simply, “Anthony Is Getting Glasses.” I started off by telling him what his glasses were going to do for him – make his eyes super strong and allow him to see clearly. Then, I put in some rules for wearing glasses. I made sure to include a picture that reflected the meaning of each rule to provide more of a visual for him. I figured these rules would come in handy later on and that it would be nice to be able to refer to it. (“Anthony, remember what the book said about putting your glasses on the floor?”) I went through the list of his favorite shows and printed pictures of all the characters that wore glasses and included them in the book. For fun, I printed out pictures of our family and drew silly eyeglasses on each of them.
I presented the book to my son about a week before we were going to pick up his glasses along with a few other children’s books about getting glasses. He enjoyed it and of course laughed at all the silly pictures. He was excited to become strong like a superhero and be more like some of his favorite characters. I was glad that I did it for him. It was a step in the right direction of making the experience of wearing eyeglasses a positive one.
You can use this book idea for any new situation your child is about to experience – it would be great for a child who is just starting to patch or even has an upcoming eye surgery. You can buy blank books at a local teacher’s store or even just staple together a few pages. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy just be sure to make it something your child will enjoy!
Marisa Tarantino is a speech-language pathologist, wife, and mother of three energetic little boys. She currently writes a blog, The Speech-Language MOMologist, which focuses on sharing fun activities that parents can experience with their child to enhance language development, as well as, providing useful information and resources concerning child development. Pop on over at: www.thespeechlanguagemomologist.com