Feature, Orthoptics Australia

Showing kids what they can do

Can:Do 4Kids

Can:Do 4Kids aims to enable low vision children across all areas throughout their lives. The service works collaboratively with orthoptists to support clients and their families, writes TRACEY STUART.

Can:Do 4Kids provides an expansive and varied range of services that support children who are blind or have vision impairment, from birth to throughout their schooling years.

With an established reputation for quality intervention, Can:Do 4Kids (AKA Townsend House) works with families and other service providers to ensure the individual is supported in a consistent manner across all areas of their life. Referrals are not required, we encourage parents, teachers, specialists, service providers and especially orthoptists to make a call or send an email. All we require is carer’s consent.

Tracey Stuart.

Services can be provided in various ways such as day care, school, home, hospital, the community, in person or via Zoom and other telehealth platforms. We also run sessions from our North Adelaide, Welland or state-of-the-art facility at Noarlunga, South Australia.

Our organisation recognises the importance of being ‘allies in health’ and are proud to have established relationships with local orthoptists. Recently, our commitment extended to hosting and providing a tour to this group at our Noarlunga site. The outcome has allowed for more meaningful discussions resulting in the best client outcomes.

Can:Do 4Kids provides a comprehensive assessment program that can incorporate a mix of standardised and functional assessment tools. Building on information provided at intake and from the assessment, an intervention program will be designed in cooperation with the carers, to assist the child with their habilitation, rehabilitation or general development, allowing them to maximise their potential.

These programs may incorporate: occupational therapy, speech therapy, orientation and mobility, adaptive technology, art therapy, and early intervention.

Our therapists are specialists, not generalists, and are constantly upskilling and remaining abreast of new trends and research. The Can:Do 4Kids therapy team consists of highly qualified staff who draw on their collective knowledge and many years of experience when designing services and programs.

Our adaptive technology specialist Adriana Sapio is a senior occupational therapist with a Graduate Certificate in Education (vision impairment), while our senior occupational therapist Lucy Farran also has a Masters in Orientation and Mobility. Hayley Matthews another Masters-level qualified orientation and mobility specialist, specialises in school aged children. Early intervention specialist Rachelle Cochrane has expanded her Bachelor of Education qualification with training in cortical vision impairment.

Can:Do 4Kids offers a comprehensive early intervention service which also encompasses groups and has a focus not just on the child but on the primary carer’s welfare and whole family functioning. We value the role a caregiver’s wellbeing has on their child’s development and implement a key worker approach when possible during the first 12 months.

Our early intervention groups provide a platform for parents to connect with other parents and families. This gives them an opportunity to discuss what living with vision impairment looks and feels like now, 12 months from now and beyond.

Our adaptive technology service aims to support and meet the needs of the child and family. Ultimately, the aim is to provide the child with independent and equal access to their visual environment. This means availability of resources and equipment they can trial in all environments they intend to use that aid.

Many Can:Do 4Kids clients will access our orientation and mobility service, where the focus is on both safety when moving through space and knowing where you are while doing so. Aides such as canes and electronic travel aides may be prescribed, along with learning how to maximise residual vision. Training occurs in many environments and lighting conditions, increasing in complexity as developmentally appropriate to do so.

We understand functional vision loss can result from many varied causes, other than ocular, such as cortical vision impairment, acquired brain injury, traumatic brain injury and neurological conditions, and design training programs that cater for the additional complexities of perceptual, cognitive and physical limitations.

One-on-one therapy can be supported by the client attending a group program where they can practise their skills in a fun and appropriate group setting. This might be a cooking class, art group or movement session to name a few. For teenagers, there are also social group outings that facilitate friendships and social skills.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracey Stuart has worked in the vision loss sector for over 30 years. With qualifications in Developmental Disabilities (Flinders) and Orientation and Mobility (La Trobe), she is Manager of Group Programs at Can:Do 4Kids.

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