Saturday, April 20, 2013

Visual Impairment, Including Blindness

From the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)

Julian’s Story
When Julian was almost two years old, he developed this adorable habit of closing one eye when he looked at you. It almost seemed as if he were winking. The possibility that Julian had a visual impairment didn’t initially occur to his parents, but when Julian’s right eye started crossing inward toward his nose…

Off they went to the eye doctor, who confirmed that, yes, Julian had a visual impairment—amblyopia, often called “lazy eye.” As the most common cause of vision problems in children, amblyopia is the medical term used when vision in one eye is reduced because that eye and the brain are not working together properly. (1) Julian was also very farsighted, especially in the eye he’d taken to closing.

Soon Julian had a brand-new pair of durable glasses suited to his active two-year-old self. The eye doctor also put an eyepatch over Julian’s better eye, so that he would have to usethe weaker eye and strengthen its communication with the brain. Otherwise, the eye doctor said, the brain would begin to ignore the images sent by the weaker eye, resulting in permanent vision problems in that eye.

Julian took good care of his glasses, but he didn’t take well to the patch, unfortunately. He ripped it off every time his parents put it on…and back on… and back on again. So today his eye still turns inward if he doesn’t wear his glasses.

Visual Impairments in Children
Vision is one of our five senses. Being able to see gives us tremendous access to learning about the world around us—people’s faces and the subtleties of expression, what different things look like and how big they are, and the physical environments where we live and move, including approaching hazards.

When a child has a visual impairment, it is cause for immediate attention. That’s because so much learning typically occurs visually. When vision loss goes undetected, children are delayed in developing a wide range of skills. While they can do virtually all the activities and tasks that sighted children take for granted, children who are visually impaired often need to learn to do them in a different way or using different tools or materials. (2) Central to their learning will be touching, listening, smelling, tasting, moving, and using whatever vision they have. (3) The assistance of parents, family members, friends, caregivers, and educators can be indispensable in that process. More will be said about this in a moment.

Read more HERE.
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