Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ambient Lenses and tears...

To start this off, I have to say that I am supposed to be doing my final weekly assignment for class. I stumbled across a reading that relates to Zachary; perhaps stumbled is a poor word choice. It does seem that when given the choice of a topic to research, I have tended to favor all things autism. I want to understand, I want to feel, I want to grab hold of it and KNOW the ins and outs beyond a shadow of a doubt. I have no desire to change who Zachary is, I've expressed that many times. My desire is to clear a path for him to enable an easier result of happiness and joy. I do feel we are on that path, however it still has underbrush and overhangs needing to be cleared.
I had to choose a skill most people do not have but could benefit from mastering, and use persuasive writing to explain to my instructor the benefits of mastering this skill. I've been tossing ideas around and finally settled on one late last night: The Balance Beam.
Zachary was taking a homeschool gymnastics class locally and was doing amazingly well, thanks to Coach Keith's incredible insight into the "whole-body/mind" connection with gymnastics. Several months into gymnastics Zachary began vision therapy. Dr. Gallop explained in specific but understandable detail why it was so hard for Z to balance, and pointed out his balled up fists and toes. (this is a repeat for those that followed along the early vision therapy appointments) I felt, and still do feel, truly blessed to have people like this in our lives! People like these two men and others over the years (past and present) that have understood my passion to understand Z's perspective as well as help him find the previously mentioned rhetorical path.
Back to the Balance Beam. During a particular exercise in vision therapy on the low beam it is imperative to keep the body tall and look straight ahead into the full mirror, to remain on the beam. The patient wears progressively more distorted lenses; instinctively Zachary will try to watch his feet or hunch down, or both. Dr. Steve reminds him (at times over and over and over....) to look in the mirror. I've watched this, and it is amazing to see the balance he has when he looks up. It wasn't until very recently that I made my own 'real life' connection to this. Coach Keith was suggesting an eye exam for a friend's daughter, who had a fear of the beam. His words were very matter of fact--essentially, if a person's vision is distorted in some way, they lose sense of the space around them, and feel the need to stay low to maintain the only kind of balance they know. (read here LIGHTBULB MOMENT FOR ME!) Keith's and Dr. Gallop's words all came together at once in a rush. Zachary feels off balance in most things, that is why he begins to yawn and stretch and fidget when trying to read (especially if without his glasses), or bounces during a new activity, or even hums when feeling nervous. His world is off balance for him, so he does what he feels he needs to do to recenter himself, low and huddled back into himself. I was reading an article titled "Ambient Lenses for Autism and PDD" (Melvin Kaplan,Latitudes ; Apr97, Vol. 2 Issue 6, p9, 1p), and again I made connections that rushed through me, yet this time also left me in tears. It is a short articlethat discusses a young boy presenting with very similar symptoms that Z presents with; it goes on to describe the initial vision therapy appointment and the ball on the string exercise (see my post for that amazing moment) This short article explains what Ambient Vision is: it is the vision that is related to body posture, movement, and the "perception of self-motion". (Melvin Kaplan, Latitudes; Apr97, Vol. 2 Issue 6, p9, 1p) This perception of self-motion is Z's humming, bouncing, fidgeting, hand flapping, I believe. I'm at a loss for words at this moment, as I'm being flooded by emotion yet again. Things have been so clouded for him but those clouds are lifting, I see it, I physically feel it. I am poised to enter a new level of clarity with not only Z's issues, but life in general. My own ambient vision has been skewed, I am only at this moment grasping the concept and grabbing hold of it, for myself as well.

Now I need to get this inspired to write my paper..............