Monday, May 31, 2010

Community Workshop

Last year I started a student group called the Student Advisory Council (SAC). I facilitate this group with a TVI & mobility instructor. The purpose of SAC is to have a student-run organization that provides peer support, leadership and education opportunities for children with vision impairments in middle & high school.
This past SAC meeting, we met with a town police department to give a workshop on how to work with people with vision impairments. Holy cow, did the students ROCK the workshop!! They educated the officers on technology, sighted guide and vision impairment simulation. It was a great opportunity for the students to shine and share with community partners.

Try it in the community: Empower your child to host a mini workshop of their own! They can do this for a variety of community partners such as churches, youth groups, scouts and protective services such as the police department. Some workshop ideas: assistive technology, sighted/human guide or vision simulation. Be "Vanna White" and stand in the background, help show off assistive tech or be a sighted guide.

Independence isn't just for the few, it's for everyone!

This blog is for children with vision impairments of all abilities. The ECC doesn't stop with just one vision condition! It's my goal to post something for everyone. In Connecticut, I am lucky enough to see children from birth to 21 years of age. I see students who are typically developing with a vision impairments to students who have multiple impairments. I believe that independence isn't just for the typically developing children. It is for all students. For some children, independence means that they can do ten out of ten steps with little or minimal assistance. For other children, it could be learning one of the ten steps. I have come to learn that if we can continually keep teaching our students to do one more thing, it's one less thing we have to do as parents and education team. Let's empower our students to be independent!

Try it at home: Think about one thing your child can start doing and let them do it! It can be as big as making their bed (without you correcting it) or as little as putting their own dish in the sink after dinner. If you have a children with multiple impairments/deafblindness, you may have to do this using hand under hand technique to help make the connection. Allow yourself 5 extra minutes and no corrections when your child does the task!

The Expanded Core Curriculum in everyday life

Did you read the "read me first" link? The ECC is what I do! The first thing I want you to ask yourself is, how does the ECC look in my child's life? Take a moment and really think about this. This is kinda a trick question because even if you think the ECC isn't a factor, it really is. It's my job to help families/education team make the ECC an effective part of our students' day of day.

Remember, the ECC is comprised of several different components. Let's do a quick review of the parts:

  • Compensatory or functional academic skill, including communication modes
  • orientation & mobility
  • social interaction
  • independent living skills
  • recreation & leisure skills
  • career education
  • use of assistive technology
  • sensory efficiency skills
  • self-determination

*from the AFB article on The Expanded Core Curriculum,
Hopefully, you can see from this list that the ECC are items that a child with a vision impairment needs to help develop strong indepedence in the world.
Try it at home: Take a moment and reflect on the question: How does the ECC look in my child's life? I suggest you write your thoughts down. Then taking action! Meet with your team (maybe the TVI, O&M instructor or VRT) and how you can make the ECC is alive in your child's life.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Something new...

Hi all!
This whole blog idea was sparked from the idea about sharing what I do. I L-O-V-E working with students who have vision impairments. It's the best thing for me. My students allow me to channel lots of random, creative thoughts into something awesome. My teaching philosophy is student-centered with a lot of involvement from their families. I love working with the families of my students because I believe in the power of families.
A long time ago, I had the idea to have a family center for children with vision impairments. I was living in Las Vegas and the resounrces were quite limited. It never really got off the ground sadly. I felt that if families could learn what the teachers were learning (from therapists, observations of their children, etc.), they would really learn the "instruction" technique. Long story short, I work in a job that allows me to combine individual instruction and family/team instruction.
I am part of a team. I cannot do my job without the help of the TVIs (teachers for the visually impaired), related services therapists (thank you to all the OTs & PTs out there), parents, paraprofessionals and mobility instructors. That being said, here's a snapshot of the ideas and thoughts from my brain. I work on the expanded core curriculum for students who have vision impairments.
Before I can start unloading ideas, read the intro posts. It's important that you understand the strategies and concepts of working with children with vision impairments.

Happy reading!!