Does This Look Right To You?

Some of Shane’s friends are at camp, so he wrote them letters. He likes to write; they like to get letters. It’s a win-win situation.

But then there’s the envelope.

Shane is 11 and has never addressed an envelope. Since Dylan is my first child, I taught him when he was 3 how to address an envelope and where to put the stamp and return address. But I figured Shane would just pick it up along the way.

He did not.

So I showed Shane a You Tube video, to peak his interest. Then I told him where to find the blank envelopes, return address labels and stamps, and left him alone with the instructions that if he did the stickers and stamps, I would write in the camp addresses.

When I came back, I found two envelopes on the table. They’d been flipped over, so that everything was stuck to the back of the envelope, with the open flap. The return address labels were in the upper right corner of the back of the envelope. And there were some flag stickers (not stamps) in the upper left corner of the back of the envelope.

While this was frustrating, I figured he just needed a little help, so I took his envelope to him and said, “Does this look right to you?”

He started to say yes – but then he looked, and realized he’d done the stickers backwards. Shane still didn’t notice that they were on the back of the envelope.

And that’s when I knew there was more to Shane’s vision processing disorder than just what he fixed through therapy.

When Shane was little, he couldn’t distinguish a lower-case ‘b’ from a ‘d.’ He wrote most of his numbers and letters backwards – but not always, and not always the same letters. He had tremendous difficulty reading because he wasn’t able to focus on the words. He’d rub his eyes, and strain, and try – but he just couldn’t do it.

Vision processing disorder meant that he could see fine – but he couldn’t properly translate what he saw to what he knew. But after his diagnosis and evaluation, and two years of twice-a-week therapy, he could read as well as anyone in his class.

Now his reading level is off the charts. He can’t spell – which is probably only partially attributed to vision processing disorder – but his writing and reading skills are exceptional.

But he can’t tell right from left, or back from front, on an envelope.

There have been other things, too – odd things, that just didn’t seem right. Shane is far from stupid, but I often find myself saying, “You need to actually use your brain.” And I am realizing, right here and now, that something is still going on in there, something that is making simple things difficult.

I just don’t know what it is.

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