Teresa R. LaManno Scholarship Fund
Terri’s professional life was caring for the visually impaired, and she more than anyone else understood that visual impairment doesn’t mean that that person is less of a human being. Yet her life was ended by a man who was blind in a different way, blinded by prejudice.... We believe that had she lived, she would have forgiven this man. No question, she would have forgiven him. But for now, we remember Terri for her goodness. For Terri had the gift of seeing life quite clearly. She knew that while she was on earth, she was to lovingly serve the Lord, her family and others, including those who are, in any way, blind.”
- Dr. Thomas Hastings, brother of Terri LaManno
Terri worked for eight years as an occupational therapist at CCVI. She spent seven of those years working with babies assigned to CCVI’s Infant Program and one year working with preschool age children at CCVI’s center-based school. Terri’s son Gian, who volunteered for many years at CCVI, recalled, “One of my fondest memories of her is when I was able to volunteer at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. I cherish the moments I got to see her work with the children. Seeing how passionate she was helping others was one of her great attributes. Anytime I got I tried to sneak away to eat lunch with her in her office to tell her all the stories I had interacting with the children.” Terri’s daughter Alissa remembers, “It amazed me how good she was at her job. I feel honored that I saw that. She was the best.”
Why Occupational Therapy is Important to a Visually Impaired Child
Occupational therapy is a profession that studies the development and activities of people from birth to old age. Occupation does not mean a job in the traditional sense, but how people in different stages of life spend their time in meaningful and functional activities. Pediatric occupational therapists like Terri analyze and focus on behaviors that support a child’s play, self-care, and other "occupations" of childhood.
If a child’s visual impairment impacts his childhood “occupational” activities, then occupational therapy is needed. 80% of what most children learn before the age of five is incidental – they watch and learn from their peers, siblings, parents, and society in general. Children who are blind or visually impaired, therefore, will have to learn differently. For a child who is visually impaired, their hands are a very essential tool for learning and they will learn primarily from the tactile information obtained with their hands. Occupational therapists who work with visually impaired children must focus a lot on functional hand use. For children, these tasks include cutting, lacing, eating and dressing independently, keyboarding, coloring, and handwriting.
Developing tasks like the ones mentioned above are often challenging as many students with visual impairments are defensive about using their hands to explore their world which can be loud, scary and uncertain. Occupational therapists specifically trained in vision must have a lot of knowledge of sensory integration and feeding training to understand how the child's nervous system is functioning and how best to help a child with a visual impairment be at a "just right" level of alertness to learn.
How Can You Help
Last year, CCVI served 387 visually impaired children. Terri and her fellow OTs provided 3,821 hours of occupational therapy to assist CCVI’s infants and students at a cost of $183 per hour. Every child at CCVI requires scholarship assistance to cover the costs of their specialized therapy and education. Please donate now and help provide an hour of occupational therapy to a visually impaired child.
“[Terri] lovingly worked with children who are visually handicapped. This was a perfect job for Terri. Her occupation was much like her role as a loving mother and wife -- there for you, assisting you, being selfless.”
- Dr. Thomas Hastings
We thank the donors who have generously supported the Teresa R. LaManno Scholarship Fund.
Classroom 3 student Grahm was a recipient of Terri's scholarship. He's pictured above with his parents and Terri's husband, Jim, at CCVI Food Fight 6.