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San Antonio nonprofit sets sights on improving therapy for visually impaired children

San Antonio nonprofit sets sights on improving therapy for children

TEAMability uses comprehensive, hands-on therapies to help children with multiple complex disabilities.
TEAMability uses comprehensive, hands-on therapies to help children with multiple complex disabilities. Courtesy/TEAMability

World Sight Day, an annual day to raise awareness about blindness and vision impairment, is October 10. In San Antonio, TEAMability, a local nonprofit that provides specialized therapy services for children with severe complex disabilities, is marking the day with an open house and other festivities.

But TEAMability is busy everyday challenging people’s misperceptions about visual impairment and supplying those who cope with blindness with resources, therapy — and lots of hope.

Organizational leaders such as Barbara Goldman, TEAMability’s executive director, say part of the nonprofit’s mission is to “challenge the assumptions” that some people have about visually impaired children and teenagers.

To do so, TEAMability employs regular programs, special events, and community support to combat misperceptions and to demonstrate visually impaired individuals and their families are strong, resilient, and hopeful.

Goldman tells CultureMap that TEAMability’s holistic approach to children with complex disabilities includes hosting the region’s only program for children with cortical visual impairment. Also known as CVI, the condition is not an eye problem, but instead a reduced visual response caused by a neurological problem impacting the part of the brain that controls vision and visual processing.

“Although CVI is the leading cause of visual impairment in children in the United States, very few people understand what CVI means,” she says.

TEAMability’s World Sight Day open house will include a demonstration of the techniques they use to improve the visual skills of children with CVI. 

In addition to learning more about the nonprofit's work, visitors will be able to see the sensory room, a state-of-the-art section of TEAMability's West San Antonio campus. It's one of the few sensory rooms of its kind in South Texas and designed to stimulate the senses of hearing, sight, touch, and smell while helping individuals with sensory disorders to develop their skills in a safe environment.

More and more occupational therapists and their patients are seeing the benefits of such sensory rooms.

Melanie Garcia, an education specialist, explains how youngsters participating in TEAMability’s highly specialized visual skills program learn to take in information about the world around them and interact with others. “It is joyful to watch a child use his vision to reach for his mother’s hand for the first time,” she says.

Parents, too, sing the praises of TEAMability. Tina Mann introduced her son Ryan to their services five years ago.

“[Ryan] functioned as if blind. Now he uses his vision when operating his communication device,” Mann said. “He is able to see people in his environment and watch them as they move about the room.”

To take part in the TEAMability October 10 open house, visit its facility at 1711 N. Trinity St. between 8 am and 3 pm. Learn more about World Sight Day by clicking here.