Until recently, I did not realize how much my visual impairment affected all aspects of my early childhood. I defined the world by size, color, and shape. I didn't know that from five feet away; faces still had lips, eyes, a nose, and ears. Faces looked like blobs to me. I heard voices, but if more than one person stood close together in the room, I could only guess which person spoke.
I distinctly remember a car drive.
My dad yelled, "Everyone look, over there! There are some deer!"
I looked out the window. I said, "Where are they?"
Mom and Dad replied while pointing, "Overthere by the tree."
I looked harder, "Where is the tree?"
A minute went by as they kept pointing and saying, "Right there, right there!" Finally speaking angrily and a little irritated, Dad said, "Right there, Erin! Right in front of your face!"
Embarrassed and not understanding my dad's anger, I lied, "Oh, now I see them." I sat behind my dad with my head buried in a blanket, and I cried. Looking out the window again, I saw no trees, no deer, nothing, just brown.
I can remember experience after experience where people would explain things to me, show me new objects to me, and I didn't understand what they were trying to show me. Subconsciously I learned that if I stood 12 to 18" away from something, I could see, understand, and put a name to the object in front of me. I memorized the shape and color. Then when seeing things at a distance, I could better guess what things were, but I never actively pointed things out. I didn't want to guess and get in trouble for being wrong.
I did not play games with balls because I couldn't see the ball before it hit me in the face.
I could see lights, but they did not help me define what I saw. Red meant stop; Green meant go; blue and red, meant police car; big red blob with lights meant firetruck; two yellow lights meant a car. Lights helped me identify things better. But in the real world, they are used to help catch the eye, to get one to look, not teach someone how to define something.
I did not go places, because I had a difficult time with depth perception. I played in my room and usually by myself. If I played by myself, no one could make fun of me for doing something wrong.
Finally, in the seventh grade, I remember coming home from the eye doctor wearing my first pair of classes, saying, "Wow, mom, is that a brick wall!" "Wow, mom, look, that tree has leafs on it." "Wow, mom, I can read that sign!" While doing an eye exam at the eye doctor, I could barely read the E on the eye chart, and that I had memorized. To be honest, it looked like a C, but the doctor did not need to know that.
You may be thinking, "Cortical Visual Impairment is different. You are nearsighted, so with glasses, you can see fine." So I will agree, my visual impairment is different from a child with CVI, but it's the way we are similar that makes me qualified to help your child see.
This is how I lived my life until the seventh grade. I sometimes still do when I can't find my glasses. Your child is smart. Having a diagnosis helps you know how to help him or her better. I look forward to helping you in that journey.
Like Hellen Keller, it only takes one thing to suddenly make things click. Language is a talent, and once your child's language is unlocked, it's a whole new and exciting world. Again, I look forward to helping your child and you on their journey of sight.