The Northeast AER Conference in Burlington, Vermont wrapped up Friday, November 17th.
Thursday, it was standing room only for Ellen Cadigan Mazel, M. Ed. CTVI. Ellen is the CVI Program Manager for the Perkins School for the Blind. (Her blog, CVI Teacher at wordpress.com is required reading for CVI parents, TVI and anyone who cares about a child with CVI.)
The information and discussions that arose from the presentations at NE AER should be another post topic. I will do that one next.
For now, I will share briefly what I experienced and what I learned from discussions in and around the presentations.
First, it made my mom’s heart glad to see so much interest in CVI. The fact that Ellen’s presentation was standing room only and Peg Palmer’s would have been if it had been in a smaller room was encouraging.
Many TVI, COMS, and administrators showed up to learn more about the condition that affects our children’s access to the world.
There were 6 presentations on Cortical Visual Impairment during the 3 day event. Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy was there! I was present for an eye-opening discussion session. (Saved for Part 2)
(I couldn’t stay for Matt Tietjen’s presentation on What’s the Complexity, but I really wanted to. I highly recommend parents and teachers familiarize themselves with his work around complexity and literacy. It is a perspective we all need to understand to help our children make progress visually and to understand what they are seeing. Check out the Perkins CVI Hub for the next class or webinar.)
This amount of information and discussion about CVI at an AER (the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) conference was unprecedented.
It would be great to see this kind of interest at every 2018 AER conference in every state or region of the United States and Canada.
To share this opinion, you can find your state’s AER at http://www.aerbvi.org.
Find the president of your state’s AER and send her/him an email about your child, about CVI, and about the need for more teachers trained in understanding CVI.
You could ask them how we as parents can support our TVI in this training. You could ask them what we need to do help make progress in getting CVI recognized as the #1 pediatric visual impairment in First World Countries.
I mean, since it is.
Also, you can send the email to these folks too:
AER’s Executive Director, Lou Tutt, firstname.lastname@example.org
AER’s Chair of the Personnel Preparation Committee, Olga Overbury at email@example.com
AER’s Chair of the (provisional?) Neurological Visual Impairment Committee, Susan Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since I had given my presentation to essentially the same audience at Peg Palmer’s presentation the day before, I shared other parent stories from the previous post where I asked you what you would say to a room filled with TVI.
This is what I shared:
From Kathryne in LA: “My theory on the lack of interest in addressing outcomes for CVI is that our kids have all been lumped as multiple disabilities. Incompetence is assumed. That is not to say that blind children can’t have multiple disabilities, but CVI is more prevalent in the multiple disabilities class. Since it’s more work other therapists and teachers ignore it.
Addressing my son’s vision has given him more improvement in all areas. More than any other therapy. We are now starting to see improvements in other areas now that vision has improved.
She asked me to “point out that many of the other skills will follow if vision is improved.”
From Anna in OH: “Show care, compassion and patience. If someone is asking for a CVI Endorsed provider, there is a reason.
The good news about CVI is that we can do something about it. Please accept the challenge to learn more about our children. It will be worth it!
Please listen to the parents’ concerns and ideas. Their children are their life, their whole world. Parents do know what they are talking about.
A passionate/trained/knowledgeable/driven CVI Endorsed provider is worth their weight in gold.”
Then, I shared a couple of stories about the frustrations parents face when looking for appropriate educational services for our children.
One mom called her local university teacher preparation program for teachers of the visually impaired and asked if CVI was covered in the curriculum. The head of the program told her no. When she asked why, he said, “We can’t be all things to all people.”
One mom called her state’s School for the Blind when her son was identified as having Cortical Visual Impairment. When she told them her child’s diagnosis, she was told, “We don’t serve those kids here. It’s too expensive to train our teachers in CVI.”
If these 2 stories frustrate you, they should. We have a lot of work to do to raise awareness and to raise our expectations of how our children are taught in their educational placements.
There will be more to come on this.
And, I wore this shirt.
Brenda, the kickass mom from Seattle and the brains behind the blog and FB page, Start Seeing CVI, made them and some proceeds of sales go the growing Pediatric Cortical Visual Impairment Society.
What a lovely holiday gift, if I do say so myself! https://startseeingcvi.com/?s=T-shirt
More to come to wrap up NE AER.
Until then, Happy Thanksgiving! I continue to be grateful for other parents who remind me that we in this together.
Because we are.