So to speak

Continue reading “So to speak”

This is the year we Start Seeing CVI

This is the year we Start Seeing CVI
This is the year we Start Seeing CVI

As the parent of a young child who has cortical visual impairment (CVI), I have explained my son’s diagnosis to countless providers. When I say providers, we are talking about early childhood educators and interventionists, neurologists, occupational therapists (OT), ophthalmologists, optometrists, orientation and mobility specialists (O&M), pediatricians, physical therapists, special educators, speech language pathologists, and especially teachers of the visually impaired (TVI). Because of the lack of awareness, education, and knowledge of CVI across the board, it has fallen to this CVI mom to educate everybody who works with my son. When you are a parent of a child with CVI, you spend every single day fighting for your child to receive appropriate services, an appropriate education, and access to the curriculum and the world. Continue reading “This is the year we Start Seeing CVI”

CVI Parents have three problems

CVI Parents have three problems
CVI Parents have three problems, photo by Patricia Harrington Simanek

My son was diagnosed with cortical visual impairment (CVI) as a newborn in 2011, before he came home from the children’s hospital neonatal intensive care unit. Like many kids who have CVI, he had a stroke. Or more specifically, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, HIE. His birth experience meant absorbing the diagnoses of infant stroke and CVI, as well as the great unknown that goes along with that, because CVI is not a stand alone diagnosis. The doctors, neurologists, called it cortical blindness. This was a day or two after hearing the heart breaking words infant stroke for the first time, a phrase that is not comprehensible in the moment. Cortical blindness, the neurologist said. Because his impairment involves the brain, and not the eye itself, there is nothing you can do. Instead the doctor should have said, Because his visual impairment involves the brain – there is so much you can do. This should be the message to all parents whose child receives a diagnosis of CVI. Continue reading “CVI Parents have three problems”

Learning to smile

Learning to smile
Learning to smile

As parents of children who have CVI, every day we experience their difficulty with the visual complexity of the human face (complexity, distance, latency, movement; Roman). Our kids struggle to look at our faces, to make eye contact with us, to read our facial expressions. They struggle to visually recognize us as their parents. Cortical visual impairment means they miss facial expressions such as boredom, confusion, frustration, sadness, worry. CVI means they also miss seeing the happiness, joy, love and pride that it is written on a parent’s face.

What follows is the story of Emma, who learned to smile with her mom, Lynn. Continue reading “Learning to smile”

Return to Wonderland

Originally published November 12, 2013

Pittsburgh Zoo

In the weeks leading up to our October appointment with Christine Roman-Lantzy, I debated going. Jasper’s developmental Renaissance, which began in early summer, was still going. Global improvements in communication, speech, feeding, auditory processing, and vision. Another new mom once said to me, “My baby changes so much every day, he’s constantly learning something new!” At the time, Jasper was about a year old, and doing Ok, but the words struck me. Changes so much… every day?? I had no idea what that meant. My experience was different from that of other new moms. Continue reading “Return to Wonderland”