Isaac Laraghy learning to walk with white cane with trainer Fiona Henwood from Guide Dogs NSW.  16 March  2016. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Isaac Laraghy learning to walk with white cane with trainer Fiona Henwood from Guide Dogs NSW. 16 March 2016. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

Cane do, Isaac seeing the world differently

TODDLER Isaac Laraghy is starting to explore the world a little differently to most children.

Losing his site to a rare condition at just four months old, the two-and-a-half-year-old has began orientation and mobility training with a long cane a day after the youngster started walking.

Isaac and his mum, Aleshea Jessup are in Coffs Harbour for a two day intensive, free training course run by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to help the toddler connected with the mobility aid straight away.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager and Isaac's trainer, Jeremy Hill said it is vital children who are vision impaired start orientation and mobility training as early as possible.

"It becomes like a bumper bar out in front of them and helps them to explore different environments," Mr Hill said.

"Our services are provided in the home, at pre-schools and schools, and within the community. Each program grows with the child, starting with pre-cane skills, moving through to cane training, public transport travel, and use of residual vision and other senses."

Over the two days, Isaac will learn to navigate steps, kerbs and footpaths and Aleshea will be taught techniques to assist her son as he grows older.

Mr Hill credited Aleshea for her confidence in Isaac and encouragement enabling Isaac to connect strongly with the mobility aid straight away.

"That's the reason he's going so well is because mum has been plugging away and also not giving him too many boundaries she's letting him stretching himself, wonder around and explore," Mr Hill said.

Aleshea has five children under the age of eight, three of which including Isaac are vision impaired.

She said the support of Isaac's siblings have helped the toddler thrive with the mobility aid.

"It's great. he's really doing extremely well," Aleshea said.

"The reason he is very out-going is because he has brothers and sisters. If he was my first child, it might of been a bit harder for us both,

"But being my fifth child, it has certainly made things a bit easier."

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility specialist Fiona Henwood, who is also training Isaac to use his cane, is impressed with his remarkable progress in the early stages of his training.

"He's really progressing really well with his connection with what he finds with the cane and how he reacts to what he finds," Ms Henward said.

"Down the track, we'll look at introducing electronic aids if he finds that useful in conjunction with his long cane."



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