Interview with Michelle Mott, COVT
What drove you to the world of behavioral optometry?
I was introduced to vision therapy when my son couldn’t read. I was impressed and amazed how vision therapy helped him. Vision therapy changed his life and increased his self confidence. Eleven years after my son finished vision therapy, I found out Dr. Torgerson was hiring vision therapists so I applied for the job. I wanted to help others find success in life skills and academics by improving their vision skills.
When did you discover that you wanted to be a vision therapist?
I knew I wanted to be a vision therapist when my son was in vision therapy. Through my son’s experience, I learned that vision can keep a person from showing their true potential. This causes a person to lose their self confidence and they can become depressed and have anxiety. I wanted to be a vision therapist so I could help people improve their vision so they could reach any goal they wanted. Helping people improve their vision skills enables them to be successful in life. I love to see people succeed so I knew being a vision therapist was the best job for me.
You will teach the advanced pre-Congress course “Vision and autism” together with Nancy Torgerson. Do you want to give people interested in attending the course some details about it?
Dr. Torgerson and I will be teaching how we help those who have autism improve their vision skills. This can be done by learning how to be more aware and improve vision skills through central peripheral and eye teaming vision therapy activities. It is important to know and understand that a person who has autism has many talents and abilities but sometimes they get overwhelmed and are unable to communicate or show those skills. We will show how vision therapy activities can open the door to new possibilities and help those with autism show their true potential.
What kind of skills does a vision therapist need to have if working with people on the autism spectrum?
To work well with a person that has autism, a therapist needs to have patience, great awareness, ability to guide through movement and words, and be able to give praise at the correct time. They also need to know how the patient stims and how to load and unload activities according to how the patient stims during the activity. This is crucial. If a therapist overstimulates their patient, the patient will shut down or become agitated and they won’t do the activity well or won’t do the activity at all.
How has your experience been during the years as a visual therapist?
My experience as a vision therapist has been amazing. I am passionate about vision therapy and can talk about it nonstop. As a vision therapist I have learned something from every patient that I have worked with. Sometimes I have learned what I can do better and sometimes I learn what I did right. Also, I have learned that a vision therapist is like a detective. Sometimes I read between the lines and think outside the box. I have enjoyed helping all my patients and look forward to helping many, many more.
What do you appreciate most about your work as a vision therapist?
One of my favorite things to see is when my patients reach their “AHA!” moments. That is when I see true joy and happiness in their eyes and smile. Being a vision therapist is the best job ever because when a person can see well it increases their confidence and enables them to be successful in life.
What impact has your work as a vision therapist had on your personal life?
Being a vision therapist has helped me personally because my patients have taught me to work hard and not give up. They have taught me that being dedicated, aware, patient, and steadfast will help me accomplish many things both at work and at home. I am grateful, and thankful, for my job as a vision therapist because it has taught me how to be a good listener and to communicate better with others.