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This is Us is Familiar to Us

This is Us is Familiar to Us
Sheds Light on the Needs of Families Impacted by Vision Loss

By Meredith Snellings, M.A.
CVI BEGIN Program Early Intervention Specialist

In a recent episode of NBC’s This is Us, Kate and Toby welcomed the birth of their son, Jack. The story shed light on some of the emotional realities that parents of a young child diagnosed with a visual impairment face. Many times, family members are unaware that a child will be born blind or with a visual impairment. This news can be overwhelming and may be in addition to other medical events. However, as shown in the show, there are supports in place to assist families with connecting to early intervention services.

The most common ways that the BEGIN Program is connected with families are through referrals from the pediatric ophthalmologist or the statewide early intervention program, Babies Can’t Wait. Sometimes families self-refer and seek out our program, or other early intervention therapists working with the child (PT / OT / ST) may refer or recommend our services to a child’s family. Developmental pediatricians and neurology practices also refer to the BEGIN Program, as the largest population of children with visual impairment in developed countries is brain-based and involves a difference in the way that the brain perceives and processes vision functionally.

Together, a family and the early intervention vision specialist work to make a plan for the child’s future that optimizes all areas of development, learning how to stimulate functional vision, develop compensatory skills and advocate for their child while navigating medical and educational systems. Along the way, a family is introduced to peer families through classes, family events, and group music therapy sessions here at CVI. These friendships and connections are invaluable to the families participating in our programs and can become a lifeline when they need a home base where people understand their needs. Parents and caretakers have opportunities to participate in specialized trainings to learn about the legal structure of Early Intervention and public education and explore topics related to advocacy, self-care, technology and medical professionals.

BEGIN can offer the start of life-long connections, resulting in a supportive family with a vision for the future that recognizes the individual strength and potential of the child. Children may enter the school system with a greater sense of preparedness and often continue to participate in BEGIN’s Programs and eventually transition to Afterschool or Summer Enrichment activities in our STARS Program as they get older.

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