Meet Tristan and Learn More About His Journey!
as told by Alicia, Tristan’s mother
Imagine you are pregnant as a first-time mother, when suddenly you go into premature labor halfway through your 2nd trimester. Imagine the fear, the uncertainty, and the chaos as you and a team of medical personnel work to save your child’s life and bring him into this world so much earlier than expected. This is what happened to me and my son.
Tristan was born on March 13, 2017 at just 25 weeks, he weighed only 1 pound 5.2 ounces. Tristan had numerous medical diagnoses that I didn’t really understand. He spent six long months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and he didn’t look like a baby at all during his first few months of life. On September 17, 2017, Tristan was finally discharged to go home and we hit the ground running with therapies and treatments. One day during speech therapy, our therapist noticed certain things about Tristan’s vision. He never made eye contact, and wouldn’t look for obstacles, causing him to trip and fall. She told me about Anchor Center, and that is where our story changed.
Tristan started in the Toddler Program and as I walked into the school I was greeted with open arms by their amazing staff. I started learning more about Cerebral or Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), and what that diagnosis meant for Tristan. CVI is a brain-based visual impairment where the eyes can be completely healthy, but the messages from the brain are not getting to them properly. I remember Tristan was always looking up at lights, but he did not have what I later learned to be visually directed reach. He would look away before reaching for anything, because his brain would not allow him to do both at the same time.
Within months of being at Anchor Center, I noticed a huge difference. My Anchor tribe showed me how to navigate Tristan’s CVI and help him at home and around the community, how to cue him, and most importantly how to create routines. I saw my son’s vision start to improve and for the first time, I was able to breathe.
Tristan’s future is bright thanks to Anchor Center. I’ve seen my son start making direct eye contact, communicating, eating orally, gaining independence, and following routines! Tristan’s teachers worked every day during their time together to assess his sensory systems and to make sure they were giving him the correct input for his body and eyes all while regulating them in a structured learning environment.
Caroline and Tristan
Tristan Made a Lasting Impact on His Teacher, Caroline Vaszauskas
My first few days into being part of the infant/toddler staff – I met Alicia and Tristan. I remember being in awe of Alicia – introducing me to her son and telling me about her journey with Tristan in the NICU. As a new teacher, I began my career learning right alongside Alicia – what CVI meant to a child like Tristan.
“Meeting Tristan and being his teacher has forever changed me. It has changed me as an educator and a person and has given me insight as an educator that will help so many other children.”
CVI is complex and it’s unique to every single child. Working with Tristan over the next four years, I learned how it can present, change and progress. Children like Tristan have a small window where early intervention can improve their functional vision.