Ellie couldn't tell anyone she was struggling to see.
Before Ellie was born she contracted a virus that meant her brain didn’t develop properly.
She’s now 11-years old and is dependent on others for all of her care. Ellie can’t walk or talk. She has trouble eating and swallowing so she is tube fed. The list of specialists Ellie sees is a long one.
Ellie is likely to develop eye and hearing problems, but with so many other medical appointments Ellie’s mum, Alyson sometimes has to prioritise the latest critical issue. Alyson says:
"Ellie finds hospital visits stressful as she knows they may often involve something painful or at best uncomfortable. She can become anxious if her routine is disturbed, and these appointments can mean half a day out of school."
They have made many trips to the hospital eye clinic, but two years ago the charity SeeAbility asked if Ellie would like to have sight tests in her special school.
The importance of sight
Ellie relies on her eyes to communicate by using Eye Gaze technology, which tracks which part of the screen she is looking at and when she blinks. This is why looking after her eyes and vision is so important.
Her appointments with SeeAbility mean that she can attend even if Alyson can’t. A member of staff from her class - who is with her all day, every day - is at the appointment and if Ellie isn’t ready the SeeAbility team can come back another time, possibly even another day. The anxiety associated with hospital appointments disappears as Ellie is just taking ten minutes out of class in a different part of her school with one of her teachers.
"It’s hard to put into words the difference this has made to Ellie and to us. I’m hopeful that Ellie’s sight won’t deteriorate, but I’m confident that if it does the SeeAbility team will be able to give her the best care in the best possible environment for her – her school"