Saturday, May 25, 2013

A colour poem written by my son

Last week, his school teacher had tasked the children to come up with their own colour poem.

The teacher started off by brainstorming with the kids on what items represent the various colours chosen. For example, purple: Barney, grapes etc; red: fire engine, apples etc. She wrote them down in lists on the white board.

The kids were told to select 2 colours and based on those two colours, select four items that represent them from the lists written on the board.

Then they were to come up with their own poem, writing in their exercise book. After the review by the teacher, they were to rewrite it, this time on the slips of paper like in the photo. The assistant teacher then pasted them on coloured backing and hung them up for display in the class.

My son came up with his own selection of colours and items. He wrote his own poem in the exercise book. Teacher edited the 2nd & 3rd line only, by truncating them. His original 2nd & 3rd line were much longer, continuing with the connective "because". It was explained to him that in poems, you keep it short and it doesn't require connectives.

I was blown away by his 1st and 4th line. It was very much written in the manner of a poem, "poem language" in a way. Teacher was impressed by his 1st line.

The image isn't all that clear, so I'm reproducing it below:

Orange is the sunset when the day is done
Orange is the tigers that are very firce
(correcting it for grammar & spelling: Orange is the tiger that is very fierce)
Orange is the carot that is healthy for your eyes
Orange is the fire that burns very bright.

Late last year, I tried to get him to write a poem. It was about Ferraris (he's crazy about cars). It took a lot of effort and guidance on my part as he had never written one before, and it's so hard for me to get him to write his own sentences at home anyway.

A few weeks after that, we tried to come up with a limerick about his best friend, which also proved tough going.

So, I was really surprised that he came up with that poem & thought it worth a mention in my blog.

He only has 3 books written in poem language and are about vehicles (but of course!) He was assigned a reader book that contained poems about sports a few months ago. That's about the only exposure he has had to poems. So I am really pleased to see his brain working creatively :D

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Progress in his vision therapy

My son started vision therapy slightly over a year ago. Prior to the first vision therapy assessment session, I was skeptical as I had not heard about vision therapy. Furthermore, the ophthalmologist said there were nothing wrong with his eyes.

I went because of 2 reasons. His CST therapist had noted through her CST sessions that something was not quite right with his vision. Secondly, he was putting up a big fuss whenever he had to read his school reading books. In the past, he would read his school readers without fuss, but by Term 2 of Year 1, the size of the text got a lot smaller, and there were a lot more words on a page.

I'm really happy that things turned out well. There have been so many areas that have improved as a result. Here are just some of them:

He currently enjoys the Mr. Men/Little Miss series, Horrid Henry stories and Geronimo Stilton.

  • He enjoys reading and his ability to answer comprehension question has improved tremendously.

  • He doesn't fight when it comes to doing his homework.

  • His handwriting has improved. He is able to write on the line (previously, the letters float) and the size of the letters are pretty much the same (previously, some were large and some small). However, when he's tired, his handwriting goes awry.

  • He is far more focused in school and gets his work done pretty much by himself. 

  • He's significantly better at recalling events. For most of Year 1, his standard answer was "I cannot remember" or "I don't know" when asked about things that has happened (e.g. what he ate for lunch, whether he had a BM lesson)

  • He's more confident.

  • His gross motor, fine motor, proprioception have improved. Note that these were also because he continued with the various therapies at Fezia's.

Vision therapy did bring good progress but it isn't a magic pill that gives instantaneous results. It requires commitment and discipline.

After the initial assessment by the vision therapist (also known as developmental/behavioural optometrist) he went for weekly therapy sessions where he was also assigned homework (vision related exercises) to be done on a daily basis.

One reason for the speed of his progress is that there's a high level of compliance, ie. he does his VT homework (bar illness or holidays) as required. This is one key factor that I've seen in all his therapies that bore good results, and it is linked to what I had learnt from Fezia - you need the right amount of frequency, intensity and duration to see progress.

Some of the exercises are seemingly simple & not immediately obvious that it is a vision exercise, but it works by reorganizing the brain in ways that benefit him overall because the body is linked in far more ways than I have understood in the past.

Some exercises are clearly vision related like getting his eye balls to repeatedly track a moving object, or that focus on hand-eye co-ordination.

The number of exercises and reps vary depending on how difficult it would be for my son to do. But it usually is completed in 20mins (provided he co-operates). I am required to note down my observations of him performing those exercises, for feedback to the therapist at the next session.

During the VT sessions at the therapist's office, he will also perform exercises (but different from those assigned as homework) and it usually involves gadgets that I do not have at home e.g. prism glasses, computer related activities, and electronic gadgets.

He is very blessed to have a great VT who works well with kids. He is able to challenge my son at the right level - not too difficult (so as not to discourage him) and not too easy (so that there's progress). He's also very creative in coming up with exercises that are usually fun, incredibly patient, and understands the psychological and emotional side of kids.

Oh, and he's also been very patient in explaining things to me & trying to incorporate exercises that will address my areas of concern. One of the earliest things that I learnt from him is that you may have 20/20 eyesight but you'll need your brain to do a whole lot more to process the image at the back of your retina. That's when I learnt terms like eye teaming, convergence etc. That made sense to me because with CP, it's part of the brain that is compromised rather than the physical limb/muscle.

I've been meaning to write this post for some time now because I wish to share therapies that have worked well for my son and also because vision therapy is very new in Malaysia, but have been just so busy and tired (I've been without a live in helper for about the same time as when he started VT). It is also in response to a question asked by a fellow blogger, to share my experiences on VT.

This is a link to a YouTube video by Dr John Abbondanza, that I viewed that gives a very good insight to vision therapy. Other videos by Dr John Abbondanza are also very informative.

Here's the website of my son's vision therapist which provides detailed information on what vision therapy entails and how it is of help.

His contact details are on this link, which is also on his website under the "Contact Us" tab: