Impaired eyesight no hurdle for a schoolgirl with attitude

2012-07-25 00:00

“I’M not blind. Are you deaf?”

That’s probably what you would hear from a confident Kayla Gracie if you dare ask if she is blind.

The six-year-old was diagnosed with cortical vision impairment (CVI) as a toddler, a neurological disorder that affects the neural pathways between the cortex and the eyes, affecting normal vision.

Experts say that accompanying features of CVI include cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

Doctors told Kayla’s parents she would never see more than light and dark, and would have to attend a special school.

But the brave little girl defied all odds. Kayla is doing Grade R at Ridge Junior Primary School and has learnt to read and write her name. She can even identify colours, shapes, letters and words.

Kayla’s mother, Lara Gracie (34), told The Witness that the family did not take it well when doctors diagnosed Kayla with CVI. But they were determined to give her the best treatment. She sees an occupational therapist once a week.

Gracie said her daughter had an excellent attitude and was doing well at school.

“We don’t treat her any differently and as far as she is concerned, she is normal.”

She said Kayla enjoyed drawing, loved her dolls and played at being a strict mom. And she wants to become a teacher.

Kayla and her parents will be visiting Dr Christine Roman in the U.S. next month. Gracie learnt about the specialist doctor on the Internet.

Roman has a good track record with CVI patients. She has offered Kayla’s family time and facilities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to assess Kayla and coach the family and Kayla’s occupational therapist to fast- track her development.

Gracie hopes that they get all the therapy to help them. But the trip does not come cheap, so a golf day has been scheduled and a trust fund set up to help raise funds.

• The golf day takes place on Friday at Maritzburg Golf Club. Tee off time is 10.30 am, with a shotgun start and four ball alliance at two scores to count. The cost is R800 per four ball.

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