There is a recently retired optometrist who is still widely revered in his community for his opinion about all things visual. He has always commanded my respect in making decisions for his patients by following the golden rule of “Do Unto Others … “ Appreciative of his many referrals through the years of patients who had vision-based learning difficulties, I admired how he would give families more than one option for specialists to consult with regarding their children’s visual function. It was never just “take two tablets and call me in the morning”, and he would always take the time to explain why he was referring the patient. In the beginning of our relationship he would personally call and give me background on the patient. Over time he called less frequently, unless there was something unusual about the patient’s background or circumstances. Ultimately he would say: “I don’t have to tell you what to do or what to look for”. When patients were referred by Dr. X, they would always call. His word on matters was definitive. Sometimes patients had concerns about the logistics of getting to us, or perhaps other considerations, and would ask Dr. X about other doctors who render vision therapy services. “You can certainly to elsewhere”, he’d say, “but Dr. Press is the Moses of Vision Therapy”. That’s a tough billing to live up to, but I always appreciated the confidence and welcomed the challenge. Just yesterday our front desk told me about a patient who called last week, with an urgency to be seen, relating the Moses appellation. But alas, the patient phoned back to cancel. Turns out that Moses isn’t in his insurance plan!
I’ve blogged before about why I feel it’s important in rendering specialty services to remain outside the dictates of third party plans. This struck a chord for me yesterday while I was reviewing Alisha’s progress in vision therapy with her mother, Amy. Amy mentioned that after just two months of vision therapy she was already seeing significant changes in her daughter’s performance. She was reading with more confidence, and her reading tutor who had been working with her before we began commented that the changes during the past two months have been remarkable. This isn’t always the case, but when positive factors are in place, it no longer surprises me when improvement and transfer occur rapidly.
As Amy and I spoke, I smiled as she hit all the high notes. It was as if I could distill all the comments I’ve heard over the past 35 years into one conversation. “I had never heard of vision therapy before”. “I saw alot of good things about VT on the internet, but wondered why some considered it controversial”. “I come from a middle class family and some family members wondered why I would spend the summer investing in the cost and travel of coming here every week”. “I was referred here by a learning specialist whose opinion I highly respect, and then when I took her for an OT evaluation and they asked if I had Alisha’s vision evaluated I decided to come”. “Even though I made the decision to come, I was still skeptical until I actually saw the changes”. Amy’s comments were so heartfelt, she graciously agreed when I asked her if I could share her thoughts with other parents who may be facing the same self-doubt. It isn’t always about the insurance.