Eyes and Independence
Last night I didn’t post a BLOG as I didn’t have a topic to write on! Nothing had come to me in the middle of a moment, over the weekend or during the week. So I didn’t and now it’s Monday - I guess it doesn’t hurt to not have a topic sometimes. I’ll just start and see what follows…
A young toddler that I have been supporting through Better Start funds has been making some wonderful progress. The family having succeeded in the application for Better Start Funds embraced the opportunity to get the most out of the funds set aside for the young toddler. Over the last 4-6 months, he has had regular home visits from a physiotherapist, weekly hydrotherapy sessions, and fortnightly home visits on a Saturday from a VI specialist teacher/early childhood/Orientation & Mobility – Eyes and Independence. Recently, a private Speech Pathologist has also joined the team.
Over the time of intense input, this young toddler has started moving so much more from rolling over, to his knees, into commando crawling and just taken off crawling small distances. At first, vision responses were minimal but now, not only have we discovered that he started responding to visual stimuli when looking upside down but encouraging the use of his vision has enabled him to demonstrate to us that he is now noticing a lot more than he did before. He is tracking and following movement of his family members. His babbling is varying in tone and although he is not yet saying much, he is definitely communicating. His interest in mouthing continues but he has extended to playing with his hands and feet and exploring new things.
HE IS MAKING WONDERFUL PROGRESS…BUT… for now, he has exceeded the funds allowed to be spent in a financial year so no more support services can be provided UNTIL...
The NDIS planning has begun as the family lives in an area where NDIS is just coming in. So with fingers crossed, the family are hoping that NDIS funds will very soon be approved and made available to cater for this little man’s ongoing needs in a range of developmental areas, medical needs and future adaptive equipment. He can then continue to MAKE PROGRESS…
A SUGGESTION TO ALL THOSE FAMILIES OUT THERE who are able to use one source of funding now and prepare for the future - value what you get, use what’s needed for that child to achieve their specific goals, choose the specialists you need to direct the child’s achievements and be part of the team, following up, monitoring progress and requesting on-going support.
Some years ago, a man by the name of Dr John Ravenscroft came to Australia sharing his success from Scotland. He had developed a Register and collected names of people (predominantly children) with a vision impairment from all over the country. As a result of this data, there was a large impact and increase in funding for those with a vision impairment because they had the data to prove how many would benefit. With John's assistance, Australia began collecting data and still continue to do so in order for future planning and evidence of the needs for our children with a vision impairment. If you haven't registered, we encourage you to do so as 'Better data = Better outcomes'.
Click on the link to find out more - www.ridbc.org.au/renwick/australian-childhood-vision-impairment-register-acvir
As a driver, have you ever considered when turning a corner that there could be someone walking along the road on their right hand side which is your left turning area, and the person could have a vision impairment? Where they live may require them walking first to get to their bus stop in a rural area as there are not always buses going down a local road during the day if it’s not a ‘school bus’. So therefore, those who don’t drive a car whether it’s due to their limitations with their vision, or their lack of money to maintain the cost of a car and insurance, there are people who need to get on public transport and the bus stop is a distance away from home.
Recently, on my travels as an Orientation & Mobility specialist I was asked about some challenging scenarios for someone who travels with a long white cane, limited vision, and needs to catch a bus on the Bruce Hwy in North Queensland. For those who are not Queenslanders, “the 1,700 kilometre Bruce Highway is Queensland's major north-south road corridor, connecting coastal population centres from Brisbane to Cairns and supporting around 58 per cent of Queensland's population”
Like all roads there are busy spots and quiet spots that vary throughout the day. The bus services are extremely limited and this service only ran every 2 hours. The challenge presented included the fact that the area of the highway was in a 100km zone, despite there being a bus stop and before the person got to the highway, the road travelled on foot was in an 80km zone.
As an Orientation & Mobility specialist, I don’t feel confident that a person with a vision impairment travelling along those roads is safe considering the logistics of rural country roads and the speed zones currently in place. Our role is to ensure safety and encourage independence in a person and although that person may be proud of their ‘travelling skills and abilities’, opting for alternatives in individual scenarios such as these are not to be seen as a ‘cop out’ The person is making a safe and sensible decision to travel and be protected in a vehicle such as a taxi. And sometimes accessing such transport provides more independence for the person – they can choose the time of pickup and return and continue to be out there in the community, enjoying others’ company, engage in regular exercise, shop for essentials and more, knowing that there are safer options open to all.
Of course, there are always costs involved with accessing transport. Do you know that a person with a vision impairment may be eligible for financial assistance when travelling in a taxi? There is other criteria for possible eligibility aside from a vision impairment.
The Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) subsidises taxi travel—half of the total fare, up to a maximum of $25 per trip—for people with severe disabilities. The Queensland link is as follows: www.qld.gov.au/disability/out-and-about/taxi-subsidy
The process in applying for the assistance can vary from state to state in Australia.
Father’s Day can be a big celebration with family get togethers, BBQs by the beach, giving of gifts, special treatment for ‘Dad’ and big thankyou’s demonstrated by the family members. I wonder if you were somewhere today next to a father who may not have been celebrating. Father’s Day can be a challenge too, to get through, grieving their lost child due to medical challenges, estranged family situation, grieving the loss of the babies that were conceived but never born.
Today I felt privileged in seeing two wonderful parents I hadn’t seen for quite some time since... They are parents that have endured so much loss and continue to struggle getting through each day because their beautiful daughter passed away before she turned 18. After a very long 7 year journey of pain and illness, rollercoaster rides of emotions and wellness it became a battle that could not be won. I was hesitant at first to say hello due to the fact it was ‘Father’s Day’ but then how often do we forget to acknowledge people for who they still are and who they have lost? Father’s Day was being celebrated in the way that suited their family – their son took them out for breakfast. No doubt, the memories of past Father’s Day with the whole family were front of mind.
Six years ago I spoke to my Dad on the phone for Father’s Day. I didn’t know that would be the last Father’s Day that he would be around. I don’t think he did either.
What was your experience today on Father’s Day? Was it different to other days? Is the father of your child still with you in the same home, or have circumstances separated the family unit? Did you see your father today? Did you talk to him, SKYPE him or send a card? I wonder if you were somewhere today next to a father who may not have been celebrating?
Fathers may also be grieving for the child that was not born ‘perfect’, with a disability that isn’t easy to disguise. Their acceptance of the child can take a long time to work through, to come to terms with or in the reverse, the father may be supporting the mother to accept their child.
Children are affected too by Father’s Day – happy children in happy families love to share their gifts, write on a card and help to cook breakfast in bed. There are the children whose father was lost at war, in a car accident, died due to an inoperable brain tumour. Father’s Day may not be easy for the children left behind or the child that has never known their father.
To all the fathers in the world – hope today you had the chance to take some time out to just be ‘you’ and others respected you for it.
Kerri Weaver is a passionate and caring service provider. She loves sharing her knowledge and skills to supporting those with vision impairment and additional disabilities. Kerri has worked in the field of disability for over 30 years. Her experience includes working in Tonga with a specialist team on multiple occasions.
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