Tuesday, September 28, 2010


#1 started highschool this year.  He seems to like it.  He keeps getting up in the morning.  Keeps going back.  Very few complaints.  It's amazing what a difference it makes to have teachers who understand his vision needs, and equipment and programs designed to assist him.  And shop class certainly helps, too.

This semester he has Geography, English, Guidance & Shop.  When we met with the guidance counsellor last spring, he told me of the course selections we made, Geography would be the one to worry about.  And worry is what mom does best.

I worried about him making friends.  Or not making friends.  I worried about him getting along with the older kids, about getting bullied.  But it seems to be a pretty good school, with plenty of adult supervision.  I was worried about him getting lost in the school.  It's an older building, with lots of additions over the years, new wings stuck on here & there, not exactly on the straight & narrow.  No problem.  He had it all figured out within a couple of days.  I worried about the days being too long for him, being exhausted when he got home, not having a life outside of school.  He's on the bus at 7am, home at 5pm.  He naps on the way home.  I really worried the day the bus flew by our house without stopping.  Did he miss the bus?  Did he fall asleep?  Where is my kid?  I called the bus office.  (That was the day the french kids went back to school.  Different bus.  #1's bus had a break down & they were running late).  And of course I worry about his eyes.  His reading isn't good.  His eyes are strained ALL THE TIME.  I worry.

For the first time EVER, he has a teacher, his Special Education Resources Teacher, who gets that.  Who looks at my kid and sees that he's in actual PHYSICAL pain as the day progresses, because his eyes are strained.  She decided that he wasn't going to read at all.  She has been working her but off, getting his homework on audio files, teaching him to use Dragon (a program that will type what he says), teaching him to use Kurzweil (a program that will read to him), getting all of his text books and assignments onto the computer, getting him an MP3 player, with the textbook reading on it, copying his homework on large files, and so much more.  She makes this all possible for him, so that he can focus on actually learning the material, instead of struggling through the days being hopelessly behind just trying to see well enough to READ.

The first few weeks were still a struggle.  Not a lot of homework, thankfully, since his eyes were too stressed to see after school.  But he was getting behind.  And I worried.  Week 3 he was supposed to have a geography test.  The weekend before, they sent home his first batch of computer files.  Written by a program that we don't have.  That Windows didn't recognize.  That I couldn't open.  Studying didn't go too well, to say the least.

They gave him an extra week to study.  They figured out the problem with the program.  They sent the files home again.  They finished training Dragon.  He was getting behind on the next topic while he was studying for the last one.  He finally wrote the test.  Having not taken many tests before- just his Cadets training tests & his first aid certification- he really wasn't sure how he thought he'd done.

Yesterday he got his test back.  I really don't care about grades.  Honestly, I don't.  As long as he's progressing, and he's happy, I'm ok.  Even if he fails.  No big deal.

He got his test back.  83.5%


  1. Wendy, I really don't know what his problem is with his eyes. BUT, I do know that using colored overlays relieves most kinds of eyestrain. And, it cannot be just any color. There is a program where the tester tries different colors to see which one works. THEN, the student can get the colored lens in glasses. This may not help him. There are LOTS of unbelievers, even among and probably especially among educators. But, I have talked to students of mine who say it was like a miracle. They did not get sleepy, bored, eyestrain, and could actually read without pain. It certainly won't hurt to try. Some teachers and psychologists who knew the children could not afford the special tests with a certified person just took the translucent plastic file folders or pocket folders in different colors, cut along the fold and did their own experimentation. The advantage in having these is that if his IEP (Individual Education Program) says he must have them and a PhD or MD has signed off on it, then any standardized test he takes out of or beyond hs will be taken with the color that helps him. If you have any questions, you can write me offblog. Of course,you may have something different from and IEP that is essentially the same thing, just differently named. Oh, I am so happy things are working out well for him and you.

  2. IEP is Individual Education Plan...got it wrong in the other post. Helen Irlen wrote Reading by the Colors. You can read about the program online. I am sure the teacher has heard of it.

  3. #1 has congenital nystagmus.
    The muscles controlling the movement of his eyes did not form properly in utero. As a result, he sees the world like looking through a pendulum. Everything is constantly swaying back and forth. Focusing on details, like print, requires extreme concentration. The harder he strains his eyes, the faster they move. So while he is able to read large print in the morning while he is fresh, continued strain, reading smaller print, constant focus as generally required in school, all stress his eyes to the point that he has trouble seeing large objects, like identifying people, animals, sometimes walls...
    The overlay idea has been tried, along with numerous other options. He was tested extensively by the University of Waterloo School of Optometry. Because it darkens the text below, he didn't find it helpful. Thanks for the suggestion though!