Visual impaired students getting power to see all their tomorrows

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The ability to see is part of how we all learn and develop as children. But what happens to the children born with visual impairment, their development and growth can suffer too.

Lola Howell is 5 years old. She’s had seizures that began when she was four months old. At seven months Lola was diagnosed with cortical visual impairment.

Lola’s mom Meredith Howell says her world looks like a kaleidoscope. “Her eyes take in the images but her brain cant interpret them as quickly as you or I can,” said Meredith.

When Lola’s family moved to Indianapolis a few years ago they didn’t know where to turn for help.

“Thankfully I was perseverant and wasn’t going to give up on my kid and getting her the best the start to life and I found visually impaired preschool services,” said Meredith.

Annie Hughes the director of Visually Impaired Preschool Services or VIPS says her organization’s size isn’t important but it’s their powers that count. VIPS power? They have the power to give children the chance to see all their tomorrows.

“VIPS is like this little nonprofit that’s doing great big things,” said Hughes.

Hughes says it’s estimated that 80 – 85 percent of youngest children in our nation with blindness also have other impairments.

“Every child, birth to three is absolutely the most critical learning period but for a child with blindness or low vision it is unbelievable important,” said Hughes.

“90 percent of what all children learn is through their visual pathway and 85 percent of all learning takes place before the age of five,” said Howell.

That’s why working with kids dealing with a visual impairment can help them avoid other developmental issues. VIPS says in Indiana it’s estimated about 1,000 kids have problems with vision. VIPS serves about 250 children.

One of those children is 1-year-old Abigail McMahan who suffers from Optic Nerve Hypoplasia.

Abigail and her mom Lyndsey have been working with VIPS therapist, Tracy for over a year. Abigail still struggles with some things but overall is improving daily.

“Right now with vision we are working on putting things in its place and feeling new textures and reading little books and getting her to look at the flowers or the sky and pushing buttons and exploring,” said Lyndsey.

People like Annie Meredith and Tracy say they will follow the code, to fight for those who can’t help themselves, as all superheros do.

“They are amazing,” said Lyndsey. “It wouldn’t have happened a lot of stuff wouldn’t have happened without them it’s just the progress that she made is just outstanding”