When a book comes out that helps people understand vision and vision therapy I write about it so my patients can find out about it. When an amazing book comes out, I try to interview the authors to not only spread the word, but because I am genuinely interested in their background and the process of writing. Like Fixing My Gaze, Jillian’s Story is one of those books that does a better job of explaining vision therapy than I can. So I am thrilled to be able to present an interview with its authors Robin Benoit and Jillian Benoit. -Dr. Nate
Dr. Nate: Robin, what made you decide that you wanted to take the time and effort to write the “Jillian’s Story”? Was there one moment, or a gradual realization?
I don’t think a week went by after Jillian started vision therapy that I didn’t say, “Somebody needs to do something to raise awareness about vision therapy.” My husband would always reply, “You should write a book.” But, I didn’t really consider it and sort of laughed at the idea. Then, one day after school as we were driving home in the car, Jillian told me that she suspected a girl in her class needed vision therapy because she had noticed her friend covering one eye with her hand as she read a book. I mentioned it the next day to Jillian’s teacher. She said, “You know, Robin, you and Jillian really need to write a book. I think Jillian’s story could help so many people.” That night, I started writing “Jillian’s Story.” I had searched for books to read about vision therapy and couldn’t find very much. I really wanted to read personal accounts from other parents about how vision therapy had worked for their child. When faced with the fact that our pediatrician didn’t refer us to vision therapy, our ophthalmologist discredited it and insurance wouldn’t cover it, we went on faith and hope that vision therapy would prove to be helpful to Jillian. We are so grateful that vision therapy exceeded all of our hopes and expectations. We hope “Jillian’s Story” will inspire, encourage and lend confidence to others considering vision therapy for themselves or their child.
Jillian, how does it feel to be famous? To have a book about you that people all over the country are talking about?
(Laughing) Am I famous? I haven’t noticed! At first I was kind of nervous, but then I realized how many people, especially kids, I could help just because I have vision problems like they do. Vision Therapy has made such a huge difference for me. I love 3D movies now because I can see stuff come out of the screen instead of a bunch of blurry junk. 3D movies used to make me feel sick. Now they are really fun! I used to get so frustrated at school. Now I love it. It’s so much easier to learn when you can see. I don’t get frustrated with homework anymore. Homework that would have taken me an hour to do before vision therapy now takes me just 5 or 10 minutes. I even love math now and I never thought I’d say that. I can read any book I want, even a thick one like “Harry Potter.” Vision therapy really changed my world and I’m so happy to share my story. I hope our book will help anyone with vision problems to have a happier life.
Robin, how long it it take to write and get printed?
I wrote the first draft about Jillian’s younger years very quickly, probably in just a few days. I started the chapters on her vision therapy experience about half way through her 15-month program and wrapped it up a little at a time as she completed vision therapy. Jillian read what I wrote throughout the writing process and added her suggestions and quotes for each chapter. It all came together quickly and easily. I had no idea how to get a book published. I did a little research on the Internet and bought a very thick book called the Writer’s Market. I went through it page by page and highlighted publishers I thought might be interested in her story. But, I just didn’t think that mailing in manuscripts and waiting months for a reply (not to mention rejection letters) was the right way to go. So, before I mailed a single manuscript, I decided to call an old friend for advice. He had written a book several years ago and I hoped he could give me some tips to follow. He did more than that! He suggested I contact a friend of his who owns a publishing company in Dallas and gave me her phone number. That was in July of 2010. I signed with Brown Books Publishing Group on August 11th and the book was released on November 12th. It was a whirlwind and I loved the entire experience!
Jillian: Vision therapy involves a lot different activities. I asked Dr. Barry which was her favorite and she said “Brock String.” Which was your favorite VT activity?
There is more than one. When I worked with Lindsey in her office, I loved the balance beam and wearing the “googly glasses.” I looked so silly in those glasses, like a mad scientist from one of those movies. It made me laugh. I also liked the big rotator and putting the golf tees in the holes. At home I liked the ball on the string and, like Dr. Barry, the “Brock String.”
Are you pleased with the how the book came out and the response so far?
(Robin): We are really pleased with it. The cover had to be redesigned rather late in the process. Our publisher ran across a book published in 1985 that looked too similar in font and coloring. We actually like the second design and colors even better, so it was a blessing in disguise. The eye chart is so iconic and the response has been that the second you see the book, you know it is about vision. We wanted our book to be like sitting down with a friend to talk about a problem. It’s wonderful to know that anyone looking for an answer or solution to their concerns can read our book in one evening, go to bed and wake up the next morning feeling much better about their situation. And, that is the response we’re getting. We’ve received emails from all across the country from people who feel we’ve been living the same life.
(Jillian): I love the book! One of the things I like best about it is that it’s quick and easy to read. Lindsey told us about a family that read it — grandmother, mom and daughter — and they raved about how it answered questions and helped all of them understand vision problems better. Friends at school have read it and come up to hug me! That’s awesome!
Have you had any interesting people contact you because of “Jillian’s Story”?
(Jillian): I had the chance to write a note to a girl in Iowa that just started vision therapy. I really hope vision therapy helps her like it did me.
(Robin): Dr. Horning suggested that I contact an optometrist that he admires named Dr. Paul Harris. Dr. Harris so graciously agreed to read the manuscript early in the process. He not only endorsed “Jillian’s Story”, but introduced me to many wonderful people including Dr. Sue Barry, who so kindly mentioned “Jillian’s Story” while speaking at the COVD Annual Meeting. We are finding so many great people willing to lend their support to Jillian’s goal of spreading the word that vision therapy really works.
Thanks for answering these questions and sharing so much! Do you have anything else you want to say?
(Jillian): Thank you, Dr. Nate, for sharing my story!
(Robin): Yes, thank you so much. We hope “Jillian’s Story” will be a strong advocate for vision therapy. Orders can be made at www.JilliansStory.com. Please email us your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Anyone wishing to receive a volume discount can have information sent to them on the 50 pack (20% discount) and 100 pack (30% discount) specials by emailing us for the special website ordering link. You will receive an email response with the link to a PayPal discount pack ordering page.