Thursday, March 3, 2011

I just read Jillian's Story and you should too! [ Vision Therapy Book Review]

A while ago I read an interview on Jillian's Story: How Vision Therapy Changed my Daughter's Life done by Dr. Nate of Bright Eyes. I contacted the author, Robin Benoit and told her about my daughter. I asked if she would like to post something about the book here on Amblyopia Kids to tell readers about it. I expressed that I was interested in reading it and she was kind enough to send me a copy of it.

Yesterday I decided to read it since my NOOKcolor was charging. I made myself a cup of my favorite blueberry coffee and sat down with Jillian's Story. And then I did something that I hadn't done in a while. I read a book cover to cover leaving my coffee to go cold. Ok, so it helps that the book is under 100 pages.. but it is very easy to read and a real page turner. So much of it I could relate to, and yes - I did cry.

Jillian's Story is the true story of a girl with Amblyopia, Jillian Benoit. The book is mother/daughter collaborative effort which chronicles her path from Amblyopia diagnosis to 'recovery'. Jillian was about my daughter's age when her amblyopia was discovered and the book was published after their six year 'journey' through patching and ultimately vision therapy.

As I opened up Jillian's Story and began to read it, I saw so much of my daughter in Jillian. Jillian, like my daughter, started out with patching her eye on the advice of her ophthalmologist and she had to wear it for a long time - even to school. Been there, done that. I give these kids who have to patch so much credit! Patching is hard work.

As I read about Jillian's struggles in Kindergarten the timing happens to be particularly on point - my daughter is "the slow cutter", the kid who never finishes her work during centers and has to bring it all home on top of "homework" - which can take hours... The "latest" was her teacher telling me that "she needs to budget her time better". I am dealing with a school that doesn't understand her vision issue and it is so very frustrating - especially considering the prevelance of amblyopia and other vision issues in children. My daughter's struggles are not unlike Jillian's... and it was largely due to Jillian's issues at school that led to her beginning Vision Therapy and changing her life... Yes, a lot of food for thought for me!

The topic of Vision Therapy raises some controversy because many ophthalmologists do not support it, nor do insurance companies pay for it. It reminds me a lot of the autism/biomedical treatment issues - having been there first hand. I also know that taking a risk and treating 'outside the box' with my son's autism has made a huge impact in the quality of his life. So, I am not adverse to Vision Therapy. In fact, I'm a huge fan of one of its pioneers Dr. Susan Barry, the author of Fixing My Gaze. You can learn more about vision therapy here (COVD website). I appreciated the honest take on Vision Therapy that Robin Benoit tells, even down to the nitty gritty on how some of the exercises made her daughter feel physically sick. The eyes are so linked with everything and Amblyopia, after all - is a neurological issue moreso that of the eyes.

I'll wrap up my post today with a heartfelt Thank You to Robin Benoit for being the one to share her daughter's story and promote understanding about Vision Therapy and how it can help. And, to Jillian for being a brave girl who went through a heck of a lot and came out on top.. you are an inspiration to many - including to me and my daughter. I can only hope that my daughter has a similar success and take comfort in reading how others have triumphed. I also find myself inspired to keep on the fight and get a handle on the many 'school issues' we have had all year and continue to have - because most of all what I hate is to see my child struggling.

Those who are impacted by amblyopia or vision related learning issues should consider picking up a copy of Jillian's Story. You can purchase the book at . There is a special promotion in March in honor of Jillian's 12th birthday. All month long, single copies of the book are $12 instead of $14.95.

Related Links:
Jillian's Story website
Become a fan of Jillian's story on facebook
Len Press on: Jillian’s Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daugther’s Life
Dr. Nate of Bright Eyes: Interview with Robin & Jillian about “Jillian’s Story” and Vision Therapy


  1. Awesome! I'm so glad that Robin's story of Jillian's success is getting out. More people need to know about vision therapy.

    Thanks for writing up your review of the book spreading the word. Robin is wonderful and I'm sure she is moved by your post. :)

  2. I read the book and sobbed at every page turn. It hit so close to home, as my daughter suffers from many of the things that Jillian went through. We are on week 7 of VT, and my 7 yo can now catch a ball, jump with a jumprope, and read a book without frustration--it is a lot of hard work, but such a miracle for my little gal!

  3. I'm going to have to get a copy of this for myself.

  4. Daisy - I can lend you mine if you want!