Seeing beyond a turned eye

Since my strabismus has been intermittent most of my life, I didn’t see it when I focused on myself in the mirror. I could consciously bring it about. I knew what it looked like. But the mirror didn’t give me everyday reminders of my abnormality.

Many are not so fortunate. Their eye turn is beyond their control. They are painfully aware that they look different. As if the mirror weren’t reinforcement enough, they are often teased unmercifully at school.

How do we help them? I’ve talked with some of them, and even they don’t have answers of what they really need. One said she felt very uncomfortable if someone even mentioned the turned eye. Another said he felt better to just get it out in the open and go on.

I did some research and came up with this interesting item from the University of Colorado:
Social perception: Perceiving and judging other people

Unfortunately I can’t focus well enough for long enough to read it as thoroughly as I would like. But I did pick up this quote from above article:

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The process by which one?s expectations about a person eventually lead that person to behave in ways that confirm those expectations.

People really do tend to see themselves as, and become, what others judge them to be. So how do we break this cycle?

If parents, educators, therapists, counselors, and yes, even other children and adults can be helped to see a person’s differences as part of the wonderful person inside, that can go a long way. As I was trying to figure out how to say this, and more importantly how to do it, I came across an item from a father who instinctively was able to do this very thing for his little daughter. I linked it to our new “Tropes” section, but I want to share it with you here also:

Bifocals
The second paragraph of this father’s story says what I couldn’t quite put into words:

When you have a child with a difference, that difference becomes part of your love for her.

This father wrote to tell me that he has written a followup item also, and I’ll share that link too:
Bifocals II

But what about those who haven’t had this? We have to do for ourselves what this father did for his daughter. We must see our defects as part of what makes us who we are. Every defect or disability can be turned into a positive in our lives if we allow it.

For children this is especially hard. But if you are old enough to read this item, you are old enough to start thinking about the positive side of your “difference.” One of the things I’ve done with my “difference” is to create a website to try to help others with this same difference. You may not be able to do that. But let your difference, whatever it is, help you deveolp a more compassionate attitude toward others who also have differences. Reach out to them, be a friend.

That’s not easy. Many have been so rejected through the years that they have a hard time with any type of social relationship. It may be uncomfortable or scary for us as well. I wrote an item several years ago that expresses more of what I mean by that:
A Thing of Beauty

I want to hear your thoughts also. How can we help?

Let’s determine that we are going to use our own differences to make a difference for someone else!

2 thoughts on “Seeing beyond a turned eye”

  1. I think there are a few things that everyone needs to do:
    1. Set an example. If you see some one “strange” or “different” don’t stare. Act like they’re just like anyone else. Because they are! Some one with a big or crooked nose is fine in our society. But some one with an eye turn is seen as a freak. Same problem. Different body part.

    2. Teach our kids to NEVER tease anyone. I was teased mercilessly when I was younger. Where were these kids’ parents? If my parents ever found out I was picking on some one I would have been VERY sorry! Some parents think it’s cute or innocent. It’s neither!
    My minister mentioned in a sermon recently a memory from his childhood. There was a girl in his grade that was overweight and not at all pretty (in his eyes). He and his brothers picked on her and embarassed her every day. When she was in 7th grade she killed herself. Now he’ll have to live with that his whole life and so will her family.

    3. Confront others who are bullies. I see it all the time. One loud mouth picking a shy person out of a crowd and making fun of them. All the people around, obviously don’t agree with him, but just smile and nod. If some one is trying to make some one out to be a jerk, they should be confronted.

    There is so much ignorance in this world it baffles me. When I was a teenager, even my friends’ PARENTS would tease me. A guy who had a crush on me called me one night and said his dad didn’t want him dating me because I was crosseyed. WOW.

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