Sometimes it all gets a bit much…
How did patching come about?
During one of our hospital appointments, when KW2 was just 2, they suggested we try patching the weaker eye 2-3 hours a day. This would help to improve the muscles in the weaker eye by making it work harder. Although his glasses correct the turn in his left eye, without them it still turns quite frequently. My biggest concern at this point was very much, how would the poor boy cope? Would patching be a time of day we dreaded? But I have to admit, I was also worried about other, more superficial things. How would he look? Would he still look cute? What would others say? Would he get laughed ? Picked on?
How does he cope with it?
On the whole he copes amazingly; no scrap that… He has been an absolute superstar. We had no idea he was so resilient and such a truely amazing boy. My heart goes out to him every morning when the patch goes on.
The first 6 months of patching went brilliantly with little resistance, we explained to him what it was for and why he had to wear it, and let him choose the patch he wanted to wear. Although he cried a bit when it was put on, once on he just accepted it! How? I honestly have no idea, I wore one for an hour at work, as part of my Children in Need costume and had to take it off as it made me feel whoozy. I hated it!
At about 6 months in to patching (2.5 years old) we had a bit more resistance with him running away shouting ‘I am not having my patch’, he would hide, or bury is face into the bed/sofa/arm, anything to stop us getting to his face. He even took it off once or twice, he removed it and hid it behind the sofa. He then came to say “Mummy I have taken my patch off and put it behind the sofa” then a big grin. You have to admire his honesty, it really made me smile. I simply told him that was fine he could wear one a bit later instead. He put it on reasonably well later that day, which really helped stop me wavering. This trauma and upset was a new patching experience for us. It was then my heart reallly went out to all the children and families who go through this on a daily basis. It is absolutely heartbreaking when they are upset about having it on, because you completely understand why. We decided to take the hard line, although I know from the hospital that many families find it too upsetting and traumatic and move to drops. We took him to the naughty step if he wouldn’t put it on, and once on, he got to play on my ipad. It brought me to tears once or twice, insisting he wore it when I knew the thought of it going on was upsetting him so much, but after a few days it worked and he began to accept it being put on in a much calmer manner. Others say that special patch time toys, electronic goods, reward charts towards a larger reward work well. He actually got a fish patch chart from the hospital and last week got given a wizard one, they are brilliant but we have found he doesn’t really need rewards anymore. Although we do still let him have the ipad if he is sad about putting it on…
Occasionally he asks is it time to take his patch off, usually we tell him. This is great because it means the occasional day missed is semi made up, because he wears it longer the next day. He just rips it off like a trooper when his time is up. When my mum used to take him to tumbletots near a supermarket, he used to stick them on a lamppost on the walk through the passageway. Mum noticed a few weeks later when she spotted several…
So in conclusion..
Every now and again we have blips where he gets very sad at the thought of having it on, then it is trial and error to what works but we will not be beaten by a patch!
Things we tried
- A cloth patch- when it seemed it could be the plaster element getting to him- he decided he preferred the ‘sticky’ ones.
- Family wearing it too, his sister often instigates this…
- Sticking patch to our clothing first, this removes a bit of the stick, meaning it’s less uncomfortable to remove.
- A snack of fruit (he is fruit obsessed)
- A trip to the cafe… chocolate cake, ice cream. ( Believe me desperate times, call for desperate measures, these treats are easily reduced once they become more accepting
- Give him a choice. ” I know you don’t want it on, but you have to have it on to help your eye. You can choose where you sit to have it put on” or we give him the option of now or after Jake and the Neverland pirates… You get the idea. CHOICE is awesome, it gives them the power but the choices you give them often lead to your desired outcome.
How we coped with it?
Not as well as him! It is an emotional rollercoaster and when they are so understandably upset, it is heartbreaking. We have been lucky in that, KW2 is such a strong character he has let the patch essentially become part of him, a part of his life; a pretty pants part of his life, but a part nontheless. His attitude towards patching has helped us immensly. A major challenge of patching has been finding a time when KW2 can do some close work.He usually has patch time at pre-school or with tv, mobigo, books, ipad at home; patching is most effective if doing close work. But invariably, sometimes patching had to happen when we were out and about, although we got him to take it off at play barns and playgrounds. If out and about we kept it on him longer as it wasn’t being effective. We ranged from 2 hours, to 4 hours, to 8 hours, back down to 2-3 hours.
How others cope with it?
Children stare and that is fine. What child wouldn’t? The poor lad is walking down the street with a whooping great big patterned plaster over his eye. Some children ask what he has done to his eye, as do some adults. Lots of people assume he has hurt his eye. We then explain why he is wearing it. By we, it is often KW1 that confidently explains the reasons he wears it (well when talking to other children anyway). His big sister is brilliant and really helps if he is unhappy about putting it on, she will put one on at the same time, bless her little cottonsocks.
Experiences of others.
One family we know were finding it such a battle, everyday had become a day of dread. The boy now has drops, which stop him using that eye properly for a lot more than a few hours, but he prefers it, so it works for them. Not having the daily battle makes family life much happier, When talking to me about patches, he said he hated patches and wants drops.
What have I learnt?
- how resilient KW2 is and how he adapted so much easier than me
- Not to be put off in the face of adversity; each day is a learning curve and there will always be difficult times. But the more you can empower the child, the more resilient and in control they become.
- we are lucky because not all authorities offer the decorated and colourful patches- these really aided our transition to patching
What has KW2 learnt?
- Mummy doesn’t back down!
- Patching can be ok because it helps his eye and he does like some of the designs
What difficulties/successes did other children have?
What resources might have helped your child with patching?
A couple of clips of kiddiewink2 and his patch