Coming to terms with CVI – Walt’s story

Jess Reidy describes herself as a fairly relaxed and chilled person. She admits to being disorganised, but caring for her son Walt, she is meticulous remembering his appointments and schedules. She knows where she needs to be and at what time.

“Walt takes after me, he is what I call – a cruisy child. I am fairly laid-back, but very disciplined at keeping on top of his appointments.”

Jess has a diary full of medical appointments as four-and-a-half-year-old Walt has Cerebral Vision Impairment (link opens in new window) (CVI). It’s a common cause of childhood vision loss.

The connection between them is obvious, as is the love this mum has for her boy.

Coming to Terms with CVI film (link opens in new window)

Jess and Walt’s story

Walt’s eyes are perfect but the processing is the problem. Once we had a diagnosis, a team of therapists were brought in.

Jess Reidy
Walt’s mum

Walt’s birth and diagnosis

Jess, and her husband Lloyd, live in Northam – a rural town, one hundred kilometres from Perth. Jess fell pregnant when she was 26, and had a good delivery and birth.

“I noticed things weren’t right when he was six weeks old. He slept a lot – an awful lot, and I felt he couldn’t see me. The GP dismissed my concerns,” says Jess.

Walt was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at three months, and then at seven months, Cerebral Vision Impairment.

Image shows Looyd and Jess with their son Walt

CVI Is a neurological brain condition where the pathways between the eye and the brain are disrupted. In most cases people with CVI have formed eyes, but their sight is impacted. They can’t visually process what they see in front of them which results in vision loss.

Support and ongoing therapy

To help Walt reach his personal milestones, VisAbility is helping Jess and her family to make them more empowered with his care. We offer guidance so his playtime incorporates elements to build stronger muscle function or improved concentration. We also give practical tips to the family so they can cope with disrupted sleep and aid his day-to-day care.

Jess brings Walt to our Children’s Centre in Victoria Park once a month for therapy. Walt is now at a specialist school – AvonVale Education Support Unit  in Northam, but his ongoing care continues.

“Today I was with a physiotherapist. Walt doesn’t have much use of the arms so we were working on his legs so he can strengthen these. We put balls out and he had to kick them. I could see how much enjoyment this was bringing,” she says.

Managing Walt’s condition

One of the things Jess found hard to deal with was digesting all the advice offered. She’d sometimes feel torn as to know what was best for Walt. Naturally, as a parent she wanted to give him the best care and attention. Jess felt guilty if she wasn’t giving him optimum care.

“I have learnt that it is okay not to be consumed by Walt and his condition and it is okay if I skip some of his exercises,” explains Jess.

He’s a happy go-lucky child.  I know so much more about the human body than I ever thought I would. More than that though, I have learnt that I am a capable adult.

Jess Reidy
Walt’s mum

We offer services from birth to eighteen years in your home, school or in the community. If you’d like to know more about how VisAbility can help then visit our Therapy for Children and Youth Services.