Very early on in Camryn’s elementary school years, I noticed she was struggling with learning and academically not keeping up with her classmates. When Camryn started to notice she learned at a different level than her classmates it started to affect her confidence. She became less social, pulled away from sports and thought of herself as “stupid”. Homework in the evenings became a constant struggle with little motivation to try. During this entire time, from Kindergarten to fourth grade, I continued to try to figure out what was going on. I had Camryn’s eyes tested, IQ evaluated, enrolled in summer school, employed tutors, tried Sylvan Learning Center, and insisted the school district evaluate her which eventually developed into an Individualized Learning Program (IEP).
Somewhere in the midst of those years, I received the book “Never Give Up” from my Aunt Beanie. The story resonated with both Camryn and I because it sounded so familiar. I continued to ask questions and soon learned that vision is different than sight and often overlooked by many healthcare professionals. Beanie directed me to a website and recommended another book. I called around to several different eye centers before I finally located an optometrist that could test vision and sight. Again Camryn tested to have perfect sight of 20/20 but this time we learned that her vision was impaired.
Camryn was diagnosed with Brown syndrome which is just one version of a vision problem. In my simplest explanation, her eyes and brain were not working together the way they should. It may sound crazy but I think we were both glad to hear the news because it provided us with an answer and gave us the will to fix it. Fortunately a Vision Therapy Center wasn’t too far from home. One day a week for 56 weeks she received vision therapy with instructions to perform eye activities at home for the rest of the week. The change didn’t happen overnight but over time the impact of vision therapy became apparent. Camryn is now 13 years old. Last year in 7th grade the IEP program was lifted because she did not require the additional support. She achieved Honor Role shortly after beginning vision therapy and has maintained Honor Role status to date. She now loves to read and even impresses herself with how well she can do it.
Brown Syndrome isn’t something that magically disappears because of vision therapy but for Camryn it’s now manageable. Just like the title of Beanie’s book, “Never Give Up”, I’m so glad we never gave up either. Camryn and I have deep gratitude to my Aunt Beanie for giving us the piece of the puzzle that was missing. It certainly made a huge impact on our lives.