The power of mobility

A few years ago one of the authors was asked to assess the vision of an 8 year old boy who also had severe cerebral palsy. There was uncertainty as to his level of cognitive ability. The most puzzling thing was that he spent a great deal of time with his head at an angle of 90 degrees. There was speculation that his visual impairment caused the world to appear at an angle. Therefore it was thought he needed to turn his head in order to see the world at the correct angle.

Time passed. Much later colleagues involved in developing a Smart Wheelchair (see above) reported on one learner who was participating in their research. Before being seated in the wheelchair, they reported, his head had been at an unusual angle. It was the same young man. As soon as he was able to control the wheelchair himself he showed great facility for negotiating his surroundings: shooting off to rooms of his choice, deliberately bumping into people, demonstrating good understanding of direction and all the time with his head in a 'normal' position. Before having access to independent mobility through the electric wheelchair he may simply have been bored!