Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vision Specialist

We had a visit from Chloe's new vision specialist (VIS) yesterday. We're receiving her services through the same Help Me Grow program that provides us an early intervention specialist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist. They all come to our house, which is fantastic, and they're all great ladies. I was skeptical about how much assistance the vision specialist would provide. Chloe's not blind and, in fact, the vision in her right eye is pretty good.

My skepticism was banished within the first 5 minutes of her arrival. The VIS is visually impaired herself and, therefore, has first-hand knowledge of the needs of visually impaired children. She sat on the floor to play with Chloe and immediately noticed that, when sitting up, Chloe held her arms out/down (sort of forming an upside-down V) with her palms facing the ground. Chloe has been sitting up for quite a while now and seems pretty stable to me. But, when the VIS presented a toy Chloe's arms were down in this protective position. She explained to me that Chloe doesn't have the depth perception to look at a toy and feel confident about not falling. This explains so much!!! Chloe can sit just fine but prefers to crawl around and play with toys while laying on her tummy or back. She recommended that we give Chloe extra sitting support when we do vision play or just want her to hold and look at toys while sitting up. This will give her the opportunity to focus on the toy in front of her without worrying about falling to the side. We'll bring the Bumbo and the Boppy back out for this. I found this insight just fascinating!

She also noticed that Chloe tilts her head to the side when regarding a toy. That's because Chloe's eyes don't usually work together. (Remember that there's a huge discrepancy in the vision of Chloe's eyes.) She'll track with either eye but will usually prefer the right eye. We did notice her regard a toy with both eyes a few times so that's encouraging. We're going to start presenting toys from her left so she has more practice looking with her left eye and we'll pay close attention to the tilt to notice when she's using one eye or both.

She also did an acuity test to determine that Chloe can see an object that's 3 inches in size from about 20 inches away. This is something for us to keep in mind during play.

Some other suggestions were:
-Consider a tactile program to give Chloe more information and body input.
-Practice putting objects in and out of a container so Chloe can practice looking into something.
-When presenting a toy at midline (centered in front of her face) give her time to use her eyes together.
-Practice carpet to carpet transitions (crawling from one surface to another). She may have trouble determining the depth of a new surface.

A great visit. I'm so glad I agreed to her services! My hope is that, by following her advice, we can improve Chloe's ability to use her eyes together and avoid inappropriate habits (like the head tilt) that could affect her physically* and socially** in the future.

*The body is meant to be in alignment. A constant head tilt throws of that alignment and can cause pain and require surgery in the future.
**People think it's weird when someone constantly tilts their head to one side.


The Hillbergs said...

you know -- you should win mom of the year -- you have been doing a full time job with all of Chloe's appointments and therapies! Its great that you are recording all this because when she's our age, it will be so wonderful for her to lookback and see how much she's overcome! And little kids are so amazing -- I have no doubt whatsoever that she's going to get through all these hurdles and come out stronger and braver than you could ever imagine! Plus, she'll be able to put that contact in and out of her eye!

Megan B ♥ said...

Wow, what great input. Who knew, eh? A vision specialist. Huh. FAB!