"What's your name?" "Her name is Kristi."
"How old are you?" "She's three."
Before I could even start to answer, my sister was ready to talk on my behalf. :)) Although, I'm pretty sure even without a talkative, big sis I never would have turned out to be a chatty cathy.
But, along came Luke and his visual impairment and those are now my instructions. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk so much that you should be tired of talking by the end of the day. Describe in detail everything going on around him. Every sound. Every movement. Every object. Every smell. Every texture. I didn't realize how hard it would be for me to do this!!! Of course, with every small child, you should be chatting constantly, to expand vocabulary and build a strong foundation for healthy communication skills. But this is different....more like a running commentary. All.Day.Long.
I think I mentioned on here before that a local school, Drury University is staring a children's center for the visually impaired. Thank the Lord!! Cause quite honestly, services for blind/VI children ages 0-3 was pretty lousy around here before this amazing program started.
We've learned so much already. Luke recently had a Functional Visual Assessment (FVA). As you can imagine, it's not easy to figure out exactly what an infant can see. No chart reading here! There are generalities like "legally blind", but that doesn't really help you interact with your child. But an FVA can give you a pretty good idea of exactly what your child can and cannot see. With the skillful observations of a trained teacher of the visually impaired, you can learn all kinds of things!!
What we've learned has been encouraging and discouraging all at once. The less exciting news is that Luke doesn't really see a whole lot. Honestly, I thought he was seeing more than he actually is. We've learned his left field of vision is his best functional vision. We've learned he has more than just light perception. He sees bright colors and large objects. He is seeing something, he's just not seeing it well enough to really learn from it, if that makes sense. 85% of what infants learn is through visual processing. Since we have Caleb who is a typically developing child, we observe first hand just how MUCH babies rely on vision for information. Caleb is constantly watching and mimicking our actions. He hears a new sound and he turns to find what is making that sound. He picks up objects and waits for us to tell him what it is, so that he can repeat the word and add it to his vocabulary. He looks at books and points at pictures and again waits for us to tell him what he is seeing. Even language development depends on vision. As we say the words, I see Caleb looking intently at my mouth to see just how I'm able to make each sound. Then he copies it. Soooo much learning early on in life is done with visual processing.
Visually impaired children don't have that advantage.
It shouldn't have been a big surprise then when the told us visually impaired children are, on average, 6 months behind schedule. That's without any other "issues". Right off the top, 6 months delayed.
So that's where all this talking comes into play. We have to be his eyes and help him explore his world by TELLING him what's around him. What he hears. What he feels. What he tastes. Where we're going. What we're doing. Etc. Etc.
The encouraging part of the assessment was just simply that Luke is already adapting quite well. (which is why we thought he was seeing more than he actually is). He's already learning how to use his other 4 senses to gain information about the world around him.
He's much more aware than he's ever been. He's reaching out for things more. He's less agitated and more comfortable in his surroundings.
We're so thankful for the services he's receiving and all the help we are getting as parents. More updates to come this week.....
For now though, I'm off to do some talking with Luke. :) It's only midday and I'm already tired. I SO don't have the gift of gab!