Helping Those In The Dark

One of the requirements to get my Master’s degree this Spring is to complete a seminar of my choice. These seminars are two days and cover a wide variety of topics. You can chose a seminar based on your interests and availability. I chose to attend the Low Vision Seminar that took place this past weekend and I am so happy I did.

The seminar was taught by Dr. Julie Nastasi, a member of the Occupational Therapy Department, and a former professor of mine. Dr. Nastasi has her SCLV (Specialty Certification in Low Vision) and continues to conduct research in the area of low vision.

The seminar began Friday morning with a brief lecture that gave an overview of common low vision diagnoses and…

My favorite part of the seminar followed the lecture. The group walked downtown to the Lackawanna Blind Association (LBA). The LBA is a non-profit corporation that serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired living in Lackawanna County. They offer a wide variety of programs including case management for homebound clients, recreation life skills education, support groups, exercise classes, an audio book club, a visual support center, and transportation.

During our afternoon at the LBA, we helped participants engage in a sensory development activity. Using shamrock-shaped foam pieces, we helped make St. Patrick’s Day magnets. It was amazing to see how much the individuals were able to do on their own despite their low vision or, in some cases, total blindness. It also amazed me how independent they were in all aspects. One of the individuals who was totally blind was able to make a pot of coffee and use the toilet completely on her own!

Following the activity, we ate lunch and talked with everyone there before the bus came to bring everyone. Overall, I really enjoyed spending time there and meeting all the remarkable people who take advantage of the many great programs the LBA has to offer.

After the LBA, we took a trip to the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City. While there, we were each given a pair of goggles that made us have a vision impairment. With the help of one of our classmates, who wasn’t wearing the goggles, we had to walk around the mall for 30 minutes. I enjoyed this because it gave me an idea of what is like for a person who has a vision impairment to go shopping. As an occupational therapist, think it helps to have an understanding of what the individual you are treating is experiencing in order to provide the best treatment and enhance your client-therapist relationship.

On Saturday, we began the seminar learning about an occupational therapy low vision assessment that can be used to test a client’s vision. We were able to practice administering the assessment to others in the group to demonstrate a good understanding of how it is done properly.

After the lecture, we returned to using the low vision goggles to make muffins. This was quite the experience. I am not very good in the kitchen to begin with and having a vision impairment surely didn’t help. It did give me a better appreciation of how difficult it is for someone who does live with a vision impairment to make a simple recipe. It allowed me to consider ways that I could adapt a client’s home to accommodate for their low vision and make sure they are safe while performing tasks in the kitchen.

To end the seminar, we went to Cafe Classico, a delicious Italian cafe right up the street from campus. Again, we had to wear our goggles to order, eat, and pay for our food. This was another eye-opening experience as I never realized how difficult it would be for someone who has a low vision impairment to enjoy a meal at a restaurant with others.

Overall, I had a really positive learning experience this past weekend. I enjoyed the interactive activities, gaining insight to how difficult certain tasks are for those who have a vision impairment, and most of all meeting all the individuals at the LBA. I think that this will have a positive impact on how I treat client’s in the future who have a vision impairment now that I have a better understanding of the diagnoses.

Have a great spring break everyone!!!

Ms. Kara R. DeRosa

Hi everyone. My name is Kara DeRosa and I am from Staten Island, NY. Currently, I am in my 5th year as a University of Scranton student in the Occupational Therapy Master's Graduate program. As an undergrad, I was actively involved in the Student Occupational Therapy Association and still currently help out with events as needed. I also participate in intramural sports, as well as various community service events and research groups with OT faculty. I lived on-campus my first 3 years as a student but now live in an off-campus apartment. My younger sister also attends the University of Scranton and is a junior nursing major. Please feel free to comment on my posts with any questions you may have or if you are interested in getting more information about anything! Happy reading :)

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