We didn’t know where to go or how to help her,” Jun remembers. When Angeline was 6 months old, Jun and his wife, Yan, noticed that their baby’s head was small for her age, and she was not following objects with her eyes. Doctors diagnosed Angeline with multiple developmental delays, as well as a weak optic nerve. “The ophthalmologist said her vision is similar to a digital camera with only one megapixel,” Jun recalls. Her brain receives blurry images.
The family was facing incredible challenges, but Wayfinder was there to help.
Learning that Angeline had delays in vision, speech, cognition and social development was overwhelming for Jun and Yan. They knew Angeline needed early intervention. But where to turn? When Angeline was 16 months old, they joined Wayfinder’s Early Intervention Program. In the program, children with vision impairment or multiple disabilities increase their use of functional vision and reach developmental milestones through weekly in-home sessions with our early intervention specialists.
Because of the pandemic, Angeline’s weekly sessions are video calls with Early Intervention Specialist Bertha Preciado, instead of in the family’s home. “I have not yet met the family in person,” Bertha says. “I’ve gone to the home only to drop off materials.” During the pandemic, Wayfinder staff are doing contact-free “porch drops” of necessities and learning materials for families in our programs.
Bertha works with Jun in the video calls to improve Angeline’s vision and developmental skills. After each session, Jun explains the interventions to Yan, who is learning English.
To stimulate Angeline’s vision, Wayfinder has given the family a light table, textured toys, black-and-white graphic cards, and toys that play songs or light up. The high contrast black-and- white graphic images taped to a wall are most successful thus far in catching Angeline’s attention. “I don’t think she can see me,” Jun says. “Perhaps it’s difficult for Angeline because I’m not black and white, I’m in color. I want her to see me. There’s hope, but the progression is very slow. That is the most difficult part as a parent. Is she going to get better?”
The family was thrilled when Angeline started walking at 20 months old. “She refused to walk or crawl in physical therapy,” says Jun, “but one day, boom! she started walking.” As she walks, the black-and-white shapes catch her attention. When Jun moves her in another direction, she turns back to the cards. She is seeing them!
Though progress is slow, Angeline’s improvements bring her family joy. “To see her develop, improving in speech, taking her first step,” Jun says, “We are so happy to see her finally achieve each milestone.”
Angeline’s 7-year-old brother, Alan, has developed a friendship with Bertha through the video sessions. “If Angeline is throwing a tantrum, Alan will talk to Bertha,” Jun says. “Bertha is very patient and caring.” When Bertha drops off items for Angeline, she sometimes includes a small item for Alan. When school was starting online in fall 2020, Bertha included school supplies in one of her packages. Alan was thrilled!
“I am really thankful to have Wayfinder. They treat us like family,” says Jun. “Wayfinder taught us how to help Angeline develop. They have been wonderful during COVID-19. The journey hasn’t been easy. I didn’t know where to start, but I see progress and it gives me hope.”
Would you like to help a child like Angeline? $100 covers the cost of an early intervention session. You can give online at http://www.wayfinderfamily.org/cares.
DID YOU KNOW?
85% of all early learning is visual.
Children learn to walk, eat, play and do much more by mimicking others around them, which puts babies with visual impairments at a great disadvantage and higher risk for developmental delays.
Every $1 spent on early intervention saves $17 in future care and support.
You can give online now at http://www.wayfinderfamily.org/cares
May 5, 2021