Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Anchor Center Evaluation
Today was Cara's much-anticipated vision evaluation by a therapist from the Anchor Center. The assessment included engaging Cara in some close-range visual activities, a quick vision test and then asking me some questions. Cathy, the therapist, wanted to do an acuteness test on Cara but because Cara's matching and recognition skills are not refined, this would not be possible, at least not in the home setting.
Cathy concluded based upon observation (there were specific things that she was watching for) that Cara most likely will qualify for the services offered at the Anchor Center. Cara has (ny)stagmus, a neurological condition in which her vision is impaired--this could have been caused by Cara's hydrocephalus when pressure in her brain was compressing the optic nerves. The therapist used a great analogy to explain this condition to me--imagine that your eye is like an old-school 35mm camera, where you have to adjust the focus for every picture. Every time a subject moves, you have to readjust the focus and everything. This is what Cara's eye is doing. One of the things that Cathy observed in Cara is that she seems to favor her left eye, the eye without the (ny)stagmus. Cara will place toys on her left side or she will tilt her head which slows the (ny)stagmus. Because of the existence of this condition, her left eye has to work very hard to focus, leading to the strabismus, which we've known about for awhile, and also explains why Cara goes cross-eyed a lot.
Cathy also said that sometimes, children with these conditions tend to have eyes that tire easily from all of the strain. This explains why Cara takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes after she's been playing intensely. To say the least, this visit was very informative.
Since Cathy believes that Cara qualifies for vision services, she recommended that we come to the Anchor Center in April to try out their toddler group therapy. The group meets twice a week for a little over an hour. Various teachers are on hand to work with the children. They have circle time, a snack and fun activities like an obstacle course--all designed to help children with various vision issues. I am so excited to take Cara and see if this is something she could benefit from. Being in a group setting will also allow the therapists to get a better idea of her vision impairment since she will be in unfamiliar surroundings and will not be able to anticipate or predict things like she can here at home.
Cathy is also recommending that a vision teacher be present at Cara's IEP evaluation with the school district in April. If the vision teacher also agrees that Cara has an impairment, she will qualify for continuing vision therapy as part of her IEP. If that is the case, Anchor Center has a preschool program that may be an option for Cara. We will have to wait and see what the outcome of this IEP evaluation is. As you can guess, this is going to be a very big day for Cara!
For right now, I am just excited to try out the toddler program. I'm hoping that Cara will love it and also benefit from it. It sounds like a great program!