Today we welcomed back a 3 year old little boy and his family for his 4th assessment. He has West Syndrome and CVI and has been on the Snowdrop programme for 15 months.
West Syndrome consists of group of symptoms characterized by epileptic/infantile spasms, abnormal brain wave patterns called hypsarrhythmia and intellectual disability. The spasms that occur may range from violent jackknife or "salaam" movements where the whole body bends in half, or they may be no more than a mild twitching of the shoulder or eye changes. These spasms usually begin in the early months after birth and can be difficult to control, requiring steriod treatment.
Cortical visual impairment, (CVI) is a form of visual impairment caused by the brain not being able to process information from the eyes passing along the visual pathways in the brain. In my observation there are varying forms of CVI, caused for instance by the thalamus not exciting the cortex sufficiently to process visual stimuli, to actual injury to the occipital cortices. Another possibility is that vision becomes 'de-automated!' Vision is something which just happens to us, we cannot help but see, - it is an automated programme, however I see children who have to be reminded to 'use their eyes!' - It comes in many forms.
With today's little boy we saw clear improvements in the use of vision, which is now 'switched on' for much of the time. He is also understanding more language, responding to simple instructions and his former auditory sensitivity is now gone. His tactile processing problems are resolved and he is now 'high kneeling' and his upper body control is good enough for us to begin working towards developing a standing balance. He also demonstrated that he now has 2 words of speech. He is though, very busy and we have to work further on slowing him down a little. His biggest change in my eyes is in sociability, he now really tries hard to interact. Well done to his parents who work so hard with him. It was great to see you again.