“Since I am unable to come to the room, the room must come to me.” -Lilli Nielsen
When I first heard about “The Little Room” from ladybugs blind low vision team I had no clue what to expect. I’d never heard of it until that day. That didn’t stop me from becoming excited at the chance to possibly have my daughter explore things in her surroundings.
She’s never really been one to reach for toys most in part because she can’t see the majority of them. Up until ladybugs last hospital stay we were unsure if she could see at all. That is until the blind low vision team who are a branch from the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) came to visit. One of their items was a metallic silver pom-pom. Nothing fancy – the typical dollar store plastic toy.
I must say I have never been brought to tears so fast from a dollar store toy in my life. The lights in her room were all turned off except for one behind her. Then they slowly started to shake the pom-pom in ladybugs line of sight. Every time the light reflected off it she would track it the waterworks started as soon as she let out her first giggle during the process and didn’t stop tracking the pom-pom. Finally a breakthrough. Up until this point all the doctors could tell us was that she probably couldn’t see due to the pigmentation of the retina but she was too young to tell. I’m confident that she can see light and shapes – there are even times when I hold her in my arms and she will look up and gaze directly into my eyes. It’s moments like that, where I forget about what the doctors say and begin to believe my ladybug is writing her own prognosis.
The pom-pom was just the beginning. The go-getter that I am, that evening I went to the dollar store and bought our own metallic pom-pom, disco balls, and any toy that would light up.
Many months later we now have The Little Room. I’ve added several pictures because I could never do it justice by trying to describe it, although ladybugs dad did say the plexiglass top with the holes reminded him of a scene from Silence of the Lambs. The Little Room was the idea of Dr. Lilli Nielsen. A Danish psychologist who teaches blind children as well as those with multiple disabilities. In the few short weeks that we’ve had the little room, ladybug is grabbing at the objects.
” This is a box that is laid over a blind or severely disabled child that has toys and other stimuli hanging from it. The child can then explore and play with the toys. Most will vocalize, even for the first time, due to the superior acoustics of the Little Room. As Nielsen wrote: “The purpose of the ‘Little Room’ is to facilitate blind children’s achievement of spatial relations and reaching behaviour, but it can also be of considerable help for sighted low functioning children.” Lilli Nielsen
When she kicks the plastic measuring cups and tin lids make all kinds of sounds along with the resonance board that is underneath. So all of the sounds she hears she is making herself.
While ladybug is in her little room her surroundings should be quiet, most recently I decided to catch up on all my emails. While in the next room I could hear her making mum mum noises as if she was eating something and thoroughly enjoying it. I thought there is no way – she has never brought anything to her mouth before. Boy was I wrong.
Sure it probably isn’t that great that she is chewing on a pom-pom but in my eyes it’s a sensory experience that has never occurred before. As long as I keep an eye on her whilst she is eating her toys I couldn’t be happier. Especially since she tried to put the slinky hanging in the corner in her mouth yesterday. I can’t even explain how proud and happy I felt at that moment.
This room has opened up our eyes to our daughters capabilities, and I’m pretty sure it has opened up hers as well. She seems to have her hands open a lot more and is more willing to explore her surroundings even out of the little room.
Perhaps my dream of one day catching her getting into my make-up isn’t that far away.