Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tips On Transitioning Your Child To Wear Glasses

Today's post is a bit different from my normal, but this is a topic I have wanted to post about for a long time.

One of the things that I get asked most about is Addison's glasses.

People ask what kind they are? (Miraflex)

And if they work well for her? (They do- as long as we get the back strap tightened enough and keep the lenses clean and free of scratches. Note: Get scratch protection. ALWAYS get scratch protection.)

But no doubt the question I get asked the most is - HOW DID YOU GET HER TO KEEP THEM ON? I exaggerated the all caps, but knowing the desperation that I felt the first time around with Addison, I think this is definitely an all caps situation.

So here's the deal. I am going to share our story with this. But to be perfectly honest, this is something that we have struggled with along the way (learning the hard way), so I have a few other parents stories to share as well. So if you are wanting advice and several different possibilities to try in this situation? You have come to the right place.

This is the type of advice I wished I could read when I was in the Ready To Pull My Hair Out I Can't Do This stage of glasses transition with Addison.

First, our story:

Addison initially got glasses at 18 months. And it went something like this: put glasses on her. Oh she's so cute! She took glasses off. Put glasses on her. Oh so cute! She took glasses off. Put glasses on her. Oh! She took glasses off. Put glasses on her. She took glasses off. etc etc etc (for ever on end)

After about six months of this and MANY different methods tried (including a behavioral therapist's help), I gave up. One year later, we discovered that her prescription was completely wrong.

Second go around of glasses for Addison: we started with a brand new eye doctor, a sedated eye exam (you can have this done while your child is being sedated for another procedure…we did her ears at the same time), and an uber cute pair of Miraflex black frames. She still wanted to take them off, but she would take them off after longer periods of time and we taught her to always put them in the same spot so they wouldn't get lost. To break her in, I would have her do an activity where she saw the benefit in them- such as watching a Signing Time show on the TV up on the wall soooo far away from her. But then to be honest what really helped us was going to school and her having someone else tell her to keep them on. Her aide and teacher are both truly fabulous. This was something that Addison learned MUCH better from constant backup from someone else (who also wears glasses) rather than just mean ol' mom who tried to force her to wear glasses that were completely wrong the first time around.

So my advice summed up:
1. Make sure the prescription is right
2. Make sure the glasses fit well and are scratch free
3. Give her incentive to want to wear them (AKA put them on to watch a show she loves)
4. Have backup and a one-on-one aide who plays bad cop with you on this.
5. Just keep putting them back on. Consistency is key.

Okay, I admit. That's not the most brilliant advice (thus why it has taken me so long to answer this question the hundreds of times it has been emailed to me.) Let's hear from some parents who figured this out so much faster than I did…

(by the way, you will read about varied experiences and thoughts about different brands. I love that glasses brand isn't a one size fits all situation- even when it comes to kids with Down syndrome.)

Here is Tara's story from Stoll Life:

Down syndrome or no, Olivia ran a pretty good chance of needing glasses because her dad and I are both cursed. So when Liv was a little more than a year old, we embarked on a journey for wee stylish specs. Difficult task. But we tried a couple different styles from Specs 4 Us (no doubt you’ve heard of this line designed specifically for our kids’ unique needs), and we picked an adorable pink pair. Choosing cutie glasses is one thing; keeping them on is quite another task. But we quickly discovered Invisiroos. Invisiroos is a glasses retainer that the farm girl in me can only describe as fishing line hooked to magnets. It loops and connects to each temple, then hooks in the back with the magnets. Simple? Yes. Invisible? Nearly. Durable? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. Invisiroos, for a reasonable price of about $10, has more than likely saved us from replacing Olivia’s glasses on several occasions. And I love that it’s not sporty, bulky, or obnoxious. Because nothing should distract from Liv’s cute frames!
(Deanna here again: I have since ordered Addison a set of these. Tara says she thinks they will work well on Miraflex, and Addison's back strap tends to get stretched out. A good fit is key. Can't wait for this to come in the mail!)

Olivia modeling her specs:

Here is Bronwyn's story from Needful Nybbles (super cute necklace line):

I first noticed Ryder’s eyes crossing while sitting across the dinner table. Mostly it happened when he was tired and it seemed to be just his right eye. We were a few months away from his annual eye exam so I decided to keep an eye on it. When we went in, sure enough, he needed glasses to correct the crossing. He got them on his fourth birthday. 

I had visions of this new, expensive, accessory being smashed into tiny pieces or thrown out the car window. But his doctor assured me that most kids wear the glasses as they can suddenly see better. Fortunately, this was the case with Ryder. As we left the office, Ryder was noticeably more alert and investigative of his surroundings. The big cheesy grin on his face spoke a thousand words. He had no problem wearing them.

Initially, we got him a Miraflex and a 'nice' backup pair by Converse. We ended up returning the Miraflex; with his shallow nose bridge and they with no bridge support, they were a poor fit. They sat so close to his eyes that they constantly smooshed his eyelashes and the strap in the back twisted the glasses off his face every time he turned his head. The replacement pair were also by Converse. 

Ryder does very well with priming and he takes great pride in being independent. Being a ham and the center of attention were qualities we took full advantage of. We constantly complimented him on his glasses. We heaped observations of how much he could see better with them. We taught him that they were HIS glasses and HE was in charge of them. We practiced putting them on and how to take them off and how to fold them up. We talked constantly on where the best places to put them down were: in plain sight on top of something. Tables, book shelves and counters were ideal spots.

He’s really good at it. He is very possessive about his glasses and doesn’t like people putting them on or taking them off. We take them to get tuned up every month or so as the joints get stretched out and screws loosen. The frames are replaced yearly as his prescription changes and that's about the life expectancy for frames for a 5 year old.

On his fifth birthday and next annual exam, he was able to follow the doctor's directions and give feedback so his prescription became much more accurate. And his world got even more clear. All in all, our journey with glasses has been quite successful and I am so proud of him.

Watch. Now I've jinxed myself.

Here is Belarmino and Mary Ann's story from t21Daddy2011 on IG:

Luke has only been wearing his glasses a few months now. I would say it's been about 4 months. Luke will be 3 on12/9/2014

Starting use of glasses for Luke at 2.5 years old was a little scary at first. Luke was already very much aware of his senses and was not very fond of wearing hats or masks.  He also didn't like for us to brush his hair, so we were worried that he would immediately remove the glasses.  Once we found out that he was near-sighted and with an astigmatism on his left eye while far-sighted on his right eye, we were hoping that he would welcome the glasses--being that he would see much better.  We found this to be true. We also got flexible MiraFlex glasses with a headband to hold the glasses snug around his head. That also helped. Cleaning of his glasses has also been important. We place his glasses back on while he drinks from his bottle so he doesn't pull them off at the onset. Once they are on, he tends to not grimace. We also remove them right before bed and place back on him the minute we change his diaper. Not waiting helps let him know that he HAS to wear them. There are days when he has allergies, and he rubs his eyes. Those days, we know we may find the glasses tossed on the floor. We simply place back on him without a fuss, realizing he has an excuse. 

And last but certainly not least, here is some advice from an unnamed source:

 Arm immobilizers. If your child is too young to understand that these glasses things can help them see better? (As Addison's eye doctor told me more than once- her world is only an arm's length away. She doesn't realize the benefit to seeing far away yet- this was at 18 months.) You can have them wear these for a couple days so that your child cannot physically remove their glasses while they get used to the new sensation on their face. Parents who have used this method say that all it takes is a couple of days and then the child never touches their glasses again. When you are talking about learning being negatively impacted because they aren't properly equipped with their glasses? This is a very practical option. I wish I had started with these! (after I got the right prescription…of course)

So there you have it. Some advice on how to help your child with Down syndrome learn to keep their glasses on. I am very thankful for these other parents sharing their stories. I have found that just with glasses brand, there is no one size fits all way to deal with kiddos with Down syndrome learning to wear glasses. I thought that by showing varied stories, one of them might be the one that helps you. (-; 

If you have advice on this subject- PLEASE leave it in the comment section. You never know who is out there right now in the Ready To Pull My Hair Out I Can't Do This glasses transition stage. For some kids this might be an easy transition. For others? (cough cough Addison) Goooood luck. (-; No seriously. Good luck.

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