Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Therapy Room & New Toys

I know I've mentioned before that we finished the new therapy room, but since some of you have asked me about it, I thought I'd post some pictures.

You probably remember that Ryan has Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI). CVI means that while Ryan's eyes seem to work physically the way they should, he doesn't focus on anything. It is believed that while he can "see", his brain is unable to interpret the images. The good news about CVI is that it is also believed that vision can be taught.

As I understand it, the brain "sees" in 3 different ways: light, motion, and color. We know Ryan sees light, as he is what's called a "light gazer". This means that if there is a source of light in a room, he will look in that direction and stare at the light. We also know he sees some colors, as he has a definite preference for neon green objects. If I show him an orange slinky, he'll ignore it. Same with the pink, silver, or yellow slinkys. But, when I show him the neon green slinky, he'll follow it with his eyes.

So, why the black walls? Let's first pretend that I've asked you to meet me at a big stadium for a sporting event. (You can pick the event.) If I say, "Meet me at the game." Will you be able to find me? Probably not among the thousands of people, right? But, if I say, "Meet me at the game. I'll be wearing a neon green shirt and sitting on the side of the stadium that is empty, AND there will be a big spotlight on me." Would you be able to find me? Definitely, right?

Well, by putting Ryan in a room with black walls, and showing him only one brightly colored object highlighted by a light, we eliminate all the other distractions. This gives his brain the best shot at finding the object. It is believed that we can in this way teach him to see one object, then slowly add additional objects. We have definitely seen some results from his vision therapy.

You might remember that when we first started, Ryan ignored everything. Then it would take about 5-10 minutes of showing him one object before he would seem to look at it. Then he started following the object from side to side. (He still doesn't follow the objects up or down.) And, now, he actually reaches out for the objects.

So, I thought I'd show you some of our new toys. Have I mentioned that we have the best therapists ever? They are so creative and thoughtful. They bring the coolest stuff to play with. Here are just a few of our new favorites:

This is a toy that lights up and vibrates when pushed. Ryan likes to push it with his feet.

This is called a switch toy. Ryan likes to push this one with his hands. When he pushes on the squishy stuff, it vibrates, lights up, and plays music. I like that I can turn off each of the responses.

This isn't really a toy, I suppose. It's a therapeutic brush. We use this for a technique called, Brushing. (Creative name, right?) We rub this firmly on Ryan's legs, arms, and backs.
Think massage. Ryan loves it!

This are some fun toys that we use. The toy on the left glows neon green. We put the pumpkin in a middle over a pen light so that it also glows green. And, the "toy" on the right, DeeDee actually found in the automotive section of a store, but it works great! It lights up really cool with a pen light or with the green glow stick. It's also the perfect size for Ryan to hold in his hand, which he likes to do.

If you've had a child in the past couple of years, you're probably familiar with the Bumbo chairs. We use this chair for therapy. We put Ryan in the chair. I help him stabilize his head by sitting behind him and placing my hands on the back of his neck or on his shoulders. (He's not quite as wobbly as he used to be.) Then we pull the table up as close as we can get it and put his hands above the table. (Ryan has a tendency to put his arms down to his sides and a bit behind him. So, it takes some effort to get him to put his arms up on the table, and to keep them there.) Then he plays the piano that his Occupational Therapist, DeeDee, brought him. He really seems to enjoy the piano. Recently, we've been using this light on the desk and it seems to help him last a little longer.

This is another great find from DeeDee. They are actually gift wrap ribbons. But they look really neat when a flashlight shines on them. Ryan loves to grab this toy and will hold on to it for quite a while.

And, last of all, these bottles. Our therapists made these from various things. They look REALLY cool when we set them on top of a little light. I tried to get a picture, but never could quite capture their awesomeness. I'm not sure who loves them the most ... Ryan or Jessica.

No comments: