In February, life was ordinary. Well, as ordinary as it can be for a mom of 2 kids - one with autism and one diva. They were conducting vision screening at my daughter's preschool and I signed a permission consent form for testing. We went off on a Disney vacation, and had a blast. Upon returning back to school my daughter came home with a pink slip in her backpack stating she had failed the vision screening from 2 weeks prior. I felt sad about the idea of my pretty little girl needing glasses, but I also knew it was just a matter of time. I wear glasses, my husband wears contacts and her big brother started wearing glasses about a year ago - it was only a matter of time. What was more alarming was the test results for my daughter which indicated she was legally blind in one eye and noted muscle weakness. I made a call and immediately got her into the ophthalmologist.
The eye doctor confirmed the results of the school vision screen, which was done by the Commission on Blindness - and gave my daughter the diagnosis of Anisometropic Amblyopia, better known as Lazy Eye coupled with Farsightedness. My daughter not only needed glasses as I feared, she was not using one of her eyes resulting in poor vision. If Amblyopia is left untreated it will result in lost vision, ultimately blindness. I freaked out. We were to begin a strict schedule of almost full-time patching plus eyeglasses.
My daughter is a diva. Wearing glasses is tough enough for a child who is a princess and extremely vain - how was I going to get her to wear a patch on her eye. For some kids, the idea of being like a pirate might be appealing - but my daughter hates pirates.
I found the book, The Patch, by Justina Chen Headley and immediately ordered it. The photo boasts a drawing of a little blonde haired girl in pigtails wearing a tutu with eyeglasses and a patch - perfect!
The Patch tells the story of Becca, a little girl like mine who has Amblyopia. Becca doesn't want to wear a patch because ballerinas and princesses don't wear patches. In the book, she borrows her brothers pirate costume and rocks it at school - sort of like a Fancy Nancy character would. Becca finds every reason and excuse to try to explain why she is wearing the patch to her friends. She pretends to be a private eye, a pirate, and a one eyed monster. All the kids want to wear an eye patch too! In the end, she explains to her friends that she has to wear it because she has a Lazy Eye.
My daughter took to The Patch right away, even though she didn't (and still doesn't) like to wear her eye patch. This is a book that has a relatable and likable character for her, and it helps make Patching fun and just a bit easier. The illustrations are whimsical and vibrant and bring Becca to life. While I wasn't sure about how my little girl would feel about Becca pretending to be a pirate, it turned out to be OK. She enjoys this book, requests to read it with Daddy, and has asked to bring it to school (a high compliment). I've even found a website (Patchpals.com) where they sell embroidered felt patches with The Patch characters (Becca and her dog Figaro) on them.
I cannot recommend The Patch enough for young kids (Pre-K and early elementary age), particularly girls with Amblyopia as well as classrooms. The book ends with some very basic info about Amblyopia (Lazy Eye).
5 great big hot pink stars!
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