Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What C. can see

C. tilting her head to use her vision
Yesterday, I met  with the low-vision therapist at C.'s school. (That's her title. She sees just fine.) She's one of those experts hired this year to "window-dress" the place and maybe even do a bit of damage control - the damage incurred by the school's incompetent staff. Hired for only 6 hours per week, it was clearly nobody's intention for the expert to help each of the 100 students - all blind or visually impaired and multiply disabled. (At this point, you might want to read my earlier post: "Window-dressing at my daughter C.'s school".)

When I inquired some six months ago, I was told C. was not among the children who'll be seen by this expert this year. Presumably the powers-that-be figured she's so profoundly disabled and in two years she'll be "put out to pasture" anyway, so why bother. (Special Education, where we live, ends at the age of 21.)

I was left no choice but to don my "pushy parent" hat. After nineteen years, I've grown to hate that role. So with great reluctance and delicacy, I nudged and begged the expert and the teacher. To my surprise, the expert was permitted to spend time assessing C. and formulating suggestions for utilizing her residual vision. (She and I used to take a salsa-dancing class together and are both American expats which may have worked in my favor).

She said she noticed that C. tilts her head either NE or SW and believes that's because she sees somewhat from those angles. So at her suggestion, I've begun showing her objects from those angles. Moving them around helps, the expert added. (spoon, book, shoe, brace)

She also recommended a return to the head-switch with the table, like the one in the photo on the right.

Now, we worked diligently with a head-switch for years but saw little or no progress. Moreover, the experts who visited our school from overseas [link] watched a school occupational therapist proudly demonstrate C.'s head switch skills. They (like the hubby and I) were duly unimpressed and advised us to abandon it. (methinks the "skills" were in the therapist's head!) They said her performance with her finger
was superior [see photo on the left, below] and, of course is so much more normative and accessible.

C. works at her Tablet
But the vision-expert felt that C. can move her head independently, whereas she needs my support on her arm in order to use her finger. I didn't want to contradict her so I just smiled and nodded. You have to tread cautiously with that "pushy parent" hat on.

The expert also advised positioning large black placards on both sides of C. to minimize distractions while we are working with her. I haven't bought them yet but will report their efficacy when I've done so. It sounds like a logical idea but C. has been known to defy logic so I'm not counting any chickens yet.

We're plodding on with our reading-aloud. After the gem, "Tuck Everlasting", we started "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. But a third of the way in, the unsubtle religious preaching grew tiresome. We've switched to "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson which, I hope, will be more nuanced.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

It's all so frustrating in the school system, no? I've largely given all of it up, to tell you the truth. I admire you for pushing onward.

And what wonderful books to be reading to your girl. We're still reading "Eleanor and Park."