Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thank you

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say "thank you" to everyone who left words of encouragement or offered advice on my extremely depressing birthday post the other day. I've been increasingly down in the dumps as this year has progressed; the current economic situation has not helped one bit, let me tell you! I've been racking my brains, trying to figure out how to squeeze in another source of income into my already hectic schedule; so far, no luck. That is, unless I want to forgo sleep all together. If I don't sleep, I can squeeze a second job in there at night, but then I would be too exhausted for work or school.

I was talking to an acquaintance about the general economic outlook for the whole country and casually mentioned that it's hitting my family, as well. She looked at me and said, "Well, just cancel Jamie's violin lessons. That'll save you some money. It's not like he needs music for anything." WHAT?!?!!???! Please tell me I misheard her! How can anyone say no one needs music?!?! I wanted to grab the nearest textbook and whack her upside the head with it. For my high school portfolio, I wrote a paper on how music and math are linked, and how study of music helps in one's verbal development, reading skills, and math skills. Oh, how I wish I had had a copy of that paper to stuff in that poor, misguided woman's mouth until she choked on it! Doesn't need music, my a$$!

My roommate also suggested that I take Jamie's violin lessons away because that would save me $30 a month in instrument rental fees. Again, NO! First of all, Jamie loves to play his violin. He's no virtuoso, my ears can attest to that! But - he is a lot better than I expected someone to be after only four lessons (they meet for an hour once a week after school). I can tell what he's playing about 3/4 of the time, and there is a very definite rhythm when he's playing. His whole face lights up when he plays, and it's beautiful to see. No matter how the bills get, I'm not taking away the violin, nor will I take away soccer. These are the two extracurricular activities he loves the most, so I'm not taking them away from him. Also, not only does he love them, but according to his psychologist, they are good therapy for his ADHD. They help him learn that paying attention is important, that if he doesn't do what he's supposed to do, he isn't just letting himself down, but he's letting down the whole team/ensemble. They also help him to learn how to work with people, instead of always trying to get his own way. And again, there is the benefit that music brings to the rest of your life (the aforementioned reading, math and verbal benefits, etc.)

Speaking of reading, I may have discovered part of Jamie's school problem, and why he speaks like an adult but reads like a first-grader with no comprehension skills whatsoever. Yesterday, I took a vacation day so I could take a computer equivalency exam and then take Jamie to the opthalmologist. He had failed his eye exam at the pediatrician's, so the doctor wanted Jamie's eyes checked. Because Jamie has migraines so often, and his other concentration problems, Dr. Jardan wanted Jamie seen by an opthalmologist instead of an optometrist. So, at his appointment yesterday, Dr. Zwaan said Jamie has something called "convergence insufficiency." Basically, this means he can't focus both eyes up close like one needs to do when reading and working on the computer, doing homework, etc. It takes so much effort for him to keep both eyes trained on the book/computer/paper, that he cannot comprehend and retain what he's reading. It also causes eye strain because he's seeing multiple images out of one eye due to the strain. Basically, both eyes are supposed to focus down into a "V" shape, with the smalled part of the "V" being trained on the paper/book/computer. Jamie's left eye wants to make more of a "U" and wander off to the left somewhere. This causes him to see multiple images of the object out of his left eye, and normal vision out of the right, which then confuses the hell out of his brain. So then, his brain is so busy trying to unscramble what he's reading, and focusing so hard on trying to make that left eye take information that he can't really process what he's reading. This also leads to eye strain, which then triggers his horrendous migraines.

Great!, you say. You know what's wrong! Now how do you fix it? Jamie has to start what's called "vision therapy" to retrain his left eye. Only problem is, they only do it on Mondays, and they're closed during my normal lunch break. I'm going to try to take him on a later lunch hour than normal, and just hope that traffic isn't too bad on the way there and that they don't take forever to get him in to start the therapy. If it takes up too much time, I fear my boss will decide to go ahead and can me and not wait until January. Until then, keep your fingers crossed!


Anonymous said...

Here's another happy birthday. I am so sorry I missed it!!! I even missed it on the blog because I hadn't checked it this week. HEY< i hope you have a great rest of the week and enjoy yourself and your son. What a blessing he is! To you and to my family as well. He is, afterall, kind of like my parents first grandchild. So, happy birthday!
Lov eyou


Steph said...

You are absolutely doing the right thing keeping his violin. I just started teaching my first flute student in years and I'm struck anew by how much joy a motivated kid takes in discovering an instrument and learning to make music. It is worth hours of therapy.

Thanks for your words of encouragement, too. :)

(Oh, and if it's any encouragement, I outgrew a focusing problem when I was near Jaime's age after about a year of eye exercises. I doubt mine was as severe as his, but I remember those headaches, and he has my deepest sympathy.)