The last new book that really got me excited was Susan Barry's, "Fixing My Gaze." It is a unique book about how and why vision therapy works. I was fortunate enough to interview Dr. Barry about her book.
Well, now there is another book out that I am equally excited about. It is called, "See It. Say It. Do It!" and is written by my friend and colleague, Dr. Lynn F. Hellerstein. I know that the subject, developing visualization ability to improve overall performance and quality of life, was a long-time interest of Dr. Hellerstein, and I was interested to see how this would be treated in a book format.
Like "Fixing My Gaze," this new book is very easy to read and is accessible to anyone with interest. I have given away several copies to patients and friends, and they have agreed that this is useful to anyone who wants to improve their life and abilities. You can read what Edna, our Vision Therapist, had to say about it here.
So, I am thankful that Dr. Hellerstein took some time from her busy schedule to answer some questions about " See It. Say It. Do It!"
Dr. B: "See It. Say It. Do It!" is very well done. Did it take a long time to write and publish?
Dr. Hellerstein: I presented a one day course at COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development) to the vision therapists in October 2008. Numerous attendees commented on how much they learned and enjoyed the course. They wanted more written visualization materials and references so that they could share them with their patients, parents, and teachers. I remember saying to myself, "There needs to be a book for parents & teachers on the power of visualization. But I'm not going to write it!"
I never really liked to write. I'd much rather present a workshop. I’ve published in optometry and medical journals. A book on visualization, though, was really different. It needed to be creative, interactive, full of pictures, and easily readable.
In December 2008, while sitting in one of Harv Eker's self-improvement courses, the presenter made a statement that "most people have a book within them. It's now time to write it." At that very moment, I decided that I would write my book. I immediately visualized the finished book, and what needed to be included in it. The writing process itself was the obstacle. I called a friend and mentor to ask if she would assist me, and she immediately agreed. That reassurance was all I needed to start. The funny part is that my friend never ended up writing the book with me!
I started the writing process in December 2008 and finished it nine months later. It was like giving birth to a child! I went through the ups and downs, excitement and frustrations, and the obstacles and breakthroughs. In talking with other authors, nine months from start to finish is an extremely short time for writing and publishing. What did I know about authoring and publishing a book? Not much. But as I kept my dream alive, wonderful supportive coaches and mentors just appeared in my life to assist me throughout the entire process.
The real answer to your question, however, is that this book took over 30 years to write and publish. It’s a culmination of my 30+ years of optometric experience.
So has the "See it. Say It. Do It!" model been intact for those 30 years or has it evolved?
The " See It. Say It. Do It!" model has evolved over the years. As my model of vision changed throughout practice, my concept and implementation of visualization strategies expanded as well. Patients continue to teach me what is most effective for them to become more confident, overcome obstacles, be more successful in school and sports, and develop a joy for learning. Writing "See it. Say It. Do It!" helped me clarify my thoughts into an understandable, usable, efficient method.
If you have a reader of "See it. Say It. Do It!” who may be skeptical about the importance of vision in life and learning, what would you say to them?
I don't get near as many skeptical questions as I used to early on in my optometric career. Developmental/behavioral optometry now has more research and improved exposure in the media.
Occasionally, I still encounter a reading teacher who tries to convince me that reading problems don’t involve vision. She strongly believes that reading difficulties are the sole result of language processing problems. I ask the teacher to close her eyes and read. “No, that’s silly to do that. I can’t see the print,” she’ll state. She doesn’t seem to see the humor of my example nor the importance of vision in learning. If you can’t properly see, you can’t even start the language processing aspect of reading. This is a very simple demonstration of a complex reading process, but the goal is to educate and to allow the skeptic to experience how vision leads to performance.
The most effective way of teaching the importance of vision is through demonstration. It’s easy to create double or blurred vision through the use of lenses and prisms, and then let the skeptic function in life and learning.
If you have noticed, I’ve left the words “vision,” “vision therapy,” “optometry,” “20/20,” etc., off the front cover of the book. After great consideration and consultation with my colleagues, I did that purposely. The public still has difficulty understanding the concept that vision is more than 20/20. The COVD Public Relations (PR) committee has worked for years to “Make Vision Therapy Visible.” Many parents still don’t relate to information about “vision” when they think their kids see just fine.
I decided not to deal with the vision controversy on the front cover. Rather, I wanted to find a way to use familiar language for parents so that they could more easily relate to it. This would hopefully make it more inviting and accessible to their needs. Then the information about the critical link between vision and learning could be shared in the chapters. That is why the sub-title became, “The Parent’s & Teacher’s Action Guide to Creating Successful Students & Confident Kids.” Parents want that for their kids. Now maybe they’ll look in the book and see how to do that.
How did you get started in vision therapy?
From day one in optometry school, I knew that there was more to vision beyond 20/20 due to my own struggles with reading. As an 8 year old, I remembered seeing my sister snuggled on the couch reading her favorite book. She’d read for hours and hours and hours. She loved to read. I'd pick up my book, sit on the couch, and after a few minutes, I'd be sound asleep. I knew how to read, had plenty of books to read, wanted to read, and saw well. Yet after ten minutes of reading, the print would blur, the letters would dance around, my eyelids became heavy, and then it was lights out.
I never understood why my sister took books on a vacation. Books on a vacation? What a waste. I go on vacation for fun! Reading was work.
I quickly learned to avoid reading even through college and optometry school. Nothing I’m proud of. It’s just the way it was. Luckily, I was able to compensate. I was organized, motivated to excel, knew how to take tests and made good grades.
After experiencing vision therapy at the age of forty, I now love to read. I look forward to vacations. Not just for the fun and relaxation, but it’s the only time I have to read for pleasure now!
Many of the patients I treat in my practice are not as lucky as I was. They don't have the skills to compensate. They struggle in school. They can’t finish a book, flunk spelling, dread writing, forget their math facts, feel “stupid”, avoid tasks, lose confidence and eventually give up. Parents are frustrated watching their kids struggle.
When vision problems are diagnosed, vision therapy can often lead the way to creating successful, confident students and athletes. What a gift—to be a developmental optometrist and be part of this beautiful learning process.
I think a lot of us have gotten interested in vision therapy based on our own visual problems. But not all of us have written books! Have you been pleased by the reception your book has gotten?
I've been ecstatic with the response. COVD had scheduled me to speak on “visualization” at the 2009 Annual Meeting. This was prior to my plan of writing a book. The timing was magical. The book just happened to be delivered one week before the COVD meeting.
The COVD attendees at the conference were gracious and generous. Many purchased 1 or 2 books to initially read. Then we started getting orders from ODs for 50-100 books at a time…for their patients, parents, teachers and other referral sources. This has resulted in more media coverage for the local ODs, increased patient referrals and new opportunities for ODs to meet with the education world.
As "Making Vision Therapy More Visible" happens with the increased book exposure as well as with other books and articles related to vision therapy, everyone benefits: the local OD, parent/educator and most importantly...kids. Here are examples of what some of the optometrists and medical doctors around the country have told me:
“I just had an article in our local paper, and it has generated great interest. It has been fantastic. I’ve had articles before, but I think that with books like Sue Barry’s and now yours, we have so much more “support” in our local communities than before.”
“We have created a bulletin board in our reception area to help educate our patients about this exciting new book and how it can help parents and teachers to create successful students and confident kids!”
“Order me 8 more – one for each exam room.”
Bottom line: More kids get the help they so dearly need!
That is truly fantastic! What other projects do you currently have going on?
"See It. Say It. Do It!" has a 2010 publishing date, so I’m in the pre-launch phase. March 2010 is the official book launch. PR and media experts will be utilized for written, radio and TV press coverage. In March, which coincides with the American Optometric Association Save Your Vision week, I will be presenting a series of free webinars for parents and educators. In addition, there will be a webinar for optometrists and vision therapists.
Another exciting project has evolved from "See It. Say It. Do It!". My vision therapists have collaborated to create a workbook that accompanies "See It. Say It. Do It!". This workbook focuses on the "Do It." aspects. It’s all about organization skills ... how to take action and be successful. My vision therapy staff utilizes these organizational charts with our VT patients. Increased compliance, not only with home VT activities but also with chores and school homework, are noted. The workbook should be published in the next couple of months.
Thank you so much, Lynn. This has been wonderful. Anything else you'd like to say?
Thank you, Nate, for the opportunity to share one of the most exciting journeys of my life. I am grateful for my mentors, colleagues, staff, friends and family who supported me throughout this process. And a special thank you to my patients, for their teachings, courage and trust. Without them, I would have never visualized this book. It was truly a transformational experience. My "Ta-Dah"!
For additional information: www.SeeItSayItDoIt.com (ph) 303-850-9499
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.