Maggie has an appointment with a new ophthalmologist today. She has not seen an ophthalmologist in many years. The school district advised me that they need a report or they will cut her vision services. Fair enough. I need the prodding. If something is a static issue for Maggie, such as vision, I will not follow up unless someone pushes me. Maggie is visually impaired. It is difficult to assess this impairment because it is so much less dramatic than her other physical issues. It is more subtle, but the impairment is significant.
Can Maggie see? Yes. Absolutely. She may need some assistance in the form of glasses, but her vision, per se, isn’t too bad. She has cortical visual impairment meaning the problem is with her brain as opposed to her eyes. It slowly gets better as the child ages. Maggie’s vision has improved, or more likely, she has adapted to the impairment. Maggie is smart and she has figured out ways to compensate for her inability to use her vision. For one thing, she has a phenomenal memory, which helps her maneuver her talker with ease. There are technical tools as well. Her talker has an audio scanning device that allows her to listen to the choices before she makes a selection; but she only depends on that for the stuff she does not already remember.
Though there is improvement, Maggie’s vision problem does not fall into the “normal” cortical visual impairment scenario. In many cases, the vision itself is impaired and gets better. In Maggie’s case, her vision is not that bad, but the visual impairment comes from her inability to use the vision she has. Maggie cannot watch television because she cannot handle the movement of what she sees. Her visual issues are motor based; she has ocular motor issues in addition to all the other motor issues. Those of us with normal vision move our eyes all over to take in a full field of vision. Maggie cannot do that. When something she is looking at is moving, like television or movies, she simply cannot process what she sees. She turns her head away.
Today we will see a new doctor. The old one retired. I loved that guy, even though I only met him a couple of times. I learned more about Maggie’s neurological issues from him in five minutes than I did from other doctors in two years. Once I saw him, I understood things so much better. Now we have to see someone else, but I hear great things about him.
It will be interesting to see if he prescribes glasses. Maggie wore them when she was little, but she just ripped them off her face constantly. As soon as she figured out how to grab them, they were often flying across the room. I can tell you this, for someone who cannot see movement very well, she sure thought that sight was funny.