Eyes. Brain. What SEES?

Life is instinctive and we have been wired to react; move quickly, do not delay.

Well, delay, was introduced to my life a little over 3 years ago, and with that a world full of deprivation.

Deprivation showed its face when my breast-fed child struggled to melt his gaze into me when intimately being nourished. The damaging lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society, deprived. The face, a considerably complex image to interpret for a child with cortical visual impairment. Inside these little dears’ skull, structures are lacking or have been damaged depriving the visual processing center and visual pathways of the brain. My son is unable to experience a sense of relief by visually capturing my face. When he needs a “security” check-in, the simple reassurance of finding my face is inaccessible to him.

It is estimated 80 percent of what children learn comes to them through their vision. Archer does not learn by watching others. His world will never be like mine, yours, or our fathers! Visual deprivation is a constant in his life, sort of like the number pi, not having an end point, it will keep going forever, and there is absolutely no pattern.

Have you ever used the term “Pleasing to the eye”? Is it our eyes being satisfied, or really is it our brain being pleased? Eyes are tools to collect information, and Archer’s eyes take in a great deal of the world. Inside his brain, where the common eye cannot see is where the deprivation occurs.
Do your eyes ever play tricks on you? I’m here to tell you most of the time it is not your eyes, it’s the visual cortex of your brain crisscrossing paths of your experiences.

Image result for snow pile on fence
Let me bring this to light for you…While driving over a bridge I looked off to see some houses close to the river, bordered in white. In this quick glance my brain captured details and sent them through my catalog of experiences. The details of the scene were a conglomeration of white masses piled together. If you know me, you know white most definitely means snow! In this split second I mentioned to Brandon, “That’s funny I just thought I saw a big pile of snow in front of a house, my eyes are playing tricks on me or I need to get my eyes checked!” (Small detail this area had recently been flooded, and the prior week had warmed into the 70’s, no chance of snow still being on the ground!). Brandon replies, “You see snow on the mountains in front of us, and you love snow, so you wanted to see snow on the ground, not sandbags!” So, were my eyes telling me I’m deprived of snow? Or was it my brain piecing together components from my familiar experiences to build meaning to this unfamiliar scene?

The last 3 years I have been battling against that 80 percent. Trying to figure out a way to bring the 80 percent to him, catch the delay up, be all in, 100 percent. Shoveling through books, blogs, articles, digging from the east to west coast I found a very small planted network of CVI constituents. This garden of profound knowledge, settled me into the roots of visual deprivation and gave me the skills to see my child blossom!

At the beginning of February it was discussed how nice it would be for Archer to independently get into his red chair. As parents we quickly clarified, he must be able to look and find his chair, which furthermore means he must understand what the salient features of the chair. We broke down the language into describing the high back, and four legs. With confidence Archer has checked that off his list! Helping him learn to see, for him to see to learn, begins with him learning to learn. Amidst the deprivation there is cognition!

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