Mike called me last night to ask if I could send him the information I have on the vision therapy we did together when he was seven years old. He has crossed paths with a concerned aunt whose nephew is having difficulty in school in spite of being an intelligent young boy. Mike and I were fortunate to find Dr. Levine and his wife, Suzanne. With their help and with dedication to the program that was far beyond what most people could or would commit to, Mike, Suzanne and I accomplished the task of reprogramming Michael’s brain. He had 20/20 vision.

The problem was that his eyes did not work together as a team. After 6 months of intense research I discovered that the option of surgically correcting the eyes is only a temporary fix. The brain will sabotage the surgery. After multiple surgeries to correct the situation, most parents give up and the children live out their lives challenged by anything and everything that is communicated by the written word as well as written numbers. Thanks to The Child Development Program designed by Suzanne Sosna Levine, and Mike’s hard work, he is now an aerospace engineer. Quite honestly, had it not been for Suzanne’s methods, Mike would have taken a very different and possibly dark path.

Some handicaps, like Mike’s are not physically obvious. He did not know how other people saw the written word. He could not know that the way he saw the words on the blackboard was quite different from the way most of the rest of the class saw the written words. When letters appear totally scrambled and tossed about, it is difficult to sound out a word. It is difficult to know which letters belong with which words.

I am feeling equally handicapped at this moment. I have been a painter for almost forty years. I am trying to reprogram my brain in order to move to a higher level of painting. It is frustrating. It is difficult. It feels almost impossible to change my habits, to learn a new way of understanding, interpreting and using color to express my vision of the world I live in and the world inside of my head.

I don’t know how Mike did it. He never complained. We spent at least an hour every day doing eye exercises of all sorts. He had a ball hanging from his ceiling that he used for eye tracking on his own in addition to all of the other exercises we did together. The only one that I think was fun at all was “spell toss”. While tossing a beanbag back and forth he had to spell his spelling words both forwards and backwards. Each week he could choose three words of his own. He chose the names of dinosaurs. He could spell every one of them, forwards and backwards. How do I reprogram my brain?

How do I develop new habits to replace my old habits, the ones that create lifeless, boring paintings that have nothing to do with my visions? I can’t believe how difficult it is. Intellectually I understand what I need to do. When it comes time to do it, I watch my brush dipping into arbitrary colors and ignoring all sense of value relationships. I feel as if the left side of my brain and the right side of my brain are staunch enemies rather than partners working as a team.

I remember the afternoon I heard a small plane flying over the house. I was painting. I dropped my brush and ran outside. It was Mike flying over the house. He was living the dream he had given up in the first grade when his desk was separated from everyone else’s because of his inappropriate behavior and his inability to get his written work done in a timely manner. It was a long road back, but he made it. My road might be a long one, too, but I’m going to stay on track and reach that next level of painting. Thanks, Mike, for the inspiration.