Originally seen on Global News
Here’s another one in honor of my favorite OTs in Occupational Therapy Awareness month!
I’ve had several blind patients in this month, which is odd, because I usually might have 1-2 in a whole year! And also, my Grandma is slowly losing her sight to macular degeneration. So, this topic hits close to home as well.
As Grandma’s vision has gotten less and less in the last year or two, she and we have been slowly becoming accustomed to life with low vision. However, using echolocation I had never heard of nor thought of.
It makes complete sense. When I do have those blind patients, they often surprise me in how quickly they learn to pick my voice out of a crowd– usually just a few sessions together. And they often will pick up on things in the environment before I do. For example, I remember going to pick up one these patients from their room. They requested to use the restroom before going to therapy. I started to make the necessary preparations and moved to open the door to the restroom. The patient said, “Not that restroom. My neighbor’s in there. There’s another by the gym, right?” First of all, I hadn’t a sound come from that restroom in the patient’s room the entire time I was in the room. And second, I had never taken that patient to the restroom in the gym, so how did they know there was one there? They had heard their neighbor open and close the door to the restroom not a few minutes before I entered. And they had heard the toilet in the gym flush when we had been walking by and they stored that info for later. So very astute!
I love the part about the neuroplasticity of the brain changing the typical visual cortex in the occipital lobe into a “sound processor” making pictures with sounds.
But I think the part I like most is applicable to everyone, whether sighted or no: taking the challenge. “Running into a pole is a drag. But never being allowed to run into a pole is a disaster.” So, that’s the take away. No matter what challenge you have in front of you today, gather your courage and leap!
Here’s a link to Daniel Kish’s charity, World Access for the Blind, if you’d like to delve a little deeper.