Amy Osvold is a vision rehab specialist in North Dakota. What sets her apart from most other vision rehab teachers is the size of her district – the western half of North Dakota about 35,000 square miles!
The drive to a consumer’s home may be four hours or more in each direction. At present it’s all phone calls.
Amy is married and lives in Minot ND. Her sight loss began in childhood with frightening episodes of sudden loss. Now she has 2-3 degrees of field of vision in one eye only.
In January this year she and her husband both began a Master’s in Social Work. Amy is responsible for clients of working age living at home, in nursing homes and in assistive living who do not have vocational goals. This includes those with additional disabilities, intellectual and other; some living in remote places.
Amy has put a series of activities of daily living, videos called Golden Guides on the North Dakota School for the Blind YouTube channel along with other teachers. (Details at end of post.)
Amy: In my area it can be 4 hours plus to get to someone’s home. That’s 8 or 9 hours or more altogether. Of course I also visit other people all the way down and all the way back.
The biggest issues for people are fear of using the stove or oven and using knives. A lot of people have gone to just sandwiches and the microwave. Usually it only takes a couple of visits for them to do more.
Hannah: How many times can you make a home visit?
Amy: There is no limit to the number of visits. Some of my clients have multiple disabilities. I also do iPhone training twice a week by phone, sometimes for weeks. The consumer may not even be legally blind. If someone has a visual impairment and is new to vision loss we can help. we are able to do as much as we can for whoever needs it.
We are very lucky at the school. We don’t have a lot of the criteria that they do in other states. I have made turkey with someone in their home. A client wanted to do turkey for Thanksgiving. That’s a 4 hour process!
I really feel If we know about somebody we will make sure they are served. We have a small but very dedicated group of people.
Hannah: Are families willing to renegotiate home tasks?
Amy: I do work with family members to create a plan for the household tasks. Unfortunately, what I see more-often-than-not, is that family members put the client on a pedestal and do not let them do anything. Many of my clients sink further into despair because they no longer have a purpose. It also tends to lead to greater caregiver fatigue among their support people. (Check last week’s post “The Pitfalls of Being a Caregiver.”)
Over the years, I have had a few clients who have asked me not to tell their family about the skills they have learned. They said they were happy that they did not have any responsibilities. But often the person’s new skills leads to a desire to learn even more because they see their new potential.
Hannah: Last month you began a master’s program as well as caring for your clients and adding to the Golden Guide videos. What gives you the energy to work on so many fronts?
Amy: Having a job related to blindness has given my own vision loss a purpose. Being blind myself I’m able to make that connection on a deeper level – same struggles same problems. It gives meaning to my own vision loss.
Daily Living Skills videos most of them with Amy, the latest is making pancakes. : Independent Living Skills – YouTube
The North Dakota School for the Blind which (along with North Dakota DHS) manages education and training for all ages in the state has, lots of videos on the channel: North Dakota School for the Blind – YouTube
There are also 3 weekly phone sessions from the library: a coffee chat session a technology session and an independent skills session, for more information about these call Amy: 701.857.7635.