Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Make a Bowl of Cereal

Ever Wanna Know...? My students give their answers on things the rest of should understand about being a teenager and having a vision impairment.

This week's question to my students:
If you had one piece of advice to give everyone about
how to treat kids/teens with
vision impairments, what would it be?

Here's what they said:
  • Gwen Vartanian Treat them the SAME way you would want to be treated. DON'T JUDGE them, get to know them. We are ALL HUMANS.
    February 4 at 9:18pm ·
  • Cooper Joseph Kendall Gwen Agreed..... get to know them, we rnt different even though my eyes rapidly shake and I can't see birds in the sky haha
    February 4 at 9:20pm · · 1 person
  • Gwen Vartanian True that!!!!!!
    February 4 at 9:21pm ·
  • Leah Bourassa treat them exactly how you would want to be treated like there no diffrent yet maybe cooler then u
    February 4 at 10:02pm · · 2 people
  • Justin Haegele usually cooler
    February 5 at 9:39am · · 1 person
  • Leah Bourassa jusitn thats quite a statement
    February 5 at 9:41am ·
  • Gwen Vartanian Well at least he is being HONEST! :) tehee
    February 5 at 9:43am ·
  • Cody Laplante We don't need sympathy. I don't really see my vision as a disability but just a part of who I am.
    February 5 at 11:44am · · 2 people
  • Justin Haegele I am being honest. I come across a lot of children without visual impairments in my building at work and I would choose interacting with you guys or my campers at Camp Alaska any day of the week over them.
    February 5 at 1:47pm · · 2 people
  • Leah Bourassa Love it they dnt know what there missin lol
    February 5 at 1:52pm ·
  • Robbin Keating I LOVE what everyone posted!! I'm gonna post this on my blog for others who read it to see! Keep adding!! You know I love all of you guys and I totally don't ever see your vision as an impairment. I love being one of your teachers :)
    February 5 at 10:48pm · · 2 people
  • Michelle Ward treat us normal we r the same as them :) if not its their loss :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

About pre-cane skills

What are pre-cane skills and how can I help?

Jessica Eichfeld, M.A., COMS

Orientation and Mobility Specialist

You don’t need to be an Orientation and Mobility Specialist to begin helping you child with O&M skills. As a parent/caregiver there are many skills that you can establish and practice with your child on a daily basis. In formal O&M training, the O&M Specialist typically teaches specific skills before placing a cane in a child’s hand. These are called pre-cane skills. These skills are trailing, protective techniques, purposeful movement and the use of a pre-cane. Let’s break these skills down into simpler terms:

Purposeful movement is basically having an end goal to a movement. Moving for a purpose! For example reaching out for a toy, a cup when they are thirsty, or their mother’s voice, all of these actions show purposeful movement. At a young age we are primarily motivated to move by sight. We see the world around us and we want to explore. It is extremely important that you teach your child that there is a world outside of themselves. Start simple! Use musical items as mobiles for infants. Use a favorite toy and place it at arms reach rather than handing the toy to your child, let them reach out to it, caution this may take some patience. Set up a blanket or rug on the floor and put the toy in a corner and have the child scoot or crawl towards the toy. Have a small basket of toys (only with a few items) in the living or family room in the same location. First time basket is set up there let your child explore the area and the items that are located near the basket. It is best to have the basket by some items that can be used as landmarks (something that is unique, permanent, and tells the child where they are) such as the couch or the corner in the room where the fuzzy rug is, for example. Let the child move towards that area freely. These are huge steps towards an independent little traveler.

Trailing is a technique that blind individuals use to help keep them orientated to their environments and helps them find certain locations and/or landmarks. The individual will glide their hand out in front of them along a wall or furniture. You can play a scavenger hunt where you put some items along the wall and your child has to find them and put in their “discovery basket.” Or you can place different textures for them to fell along the wall. Sticky tack works well for hanging objects and does not leave marks on the walls.

Protective Techniques or “safe hands” can be used when your child is walking in open space without a wall or furniture to trail. You want your child to hold their hands up in-front of them preferably protecting their head. Encourage your child to use “safe hands” when they are approaching an obstacle.

A Pre-cane can be a simple push toy, toy shopping cart or a hula hoop. The use of the pre-cane helps the child understand that walking with something in front of them protects them. That is a barrier between them and an obstacle that can hurt them. They will learn that when the pre-cane hits something they need to go around or move the object. You may see your child walk more confidently without holding a hand. This not only allows them more independence, but builds confidence in their abilities!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My student Cody is doing something awesome! See how you can be part of it!

I have a student that I have worked with for a year named Cody Laplante. He is a junior in high school and is visually impaired. Last year he worked at the Connecticut chapter of Camp Abilities as the senior counselor-in-training and did an AMAZING job! He has been observing the field of vision impairment education for awhile now and has decided that this is the career he would like to pursue.
Cody is one talented young man. I work with him as an intern at several of my programs and in a group called Student Advisory Council (a group for teens who have vision impairments). I am constantly impressed at his maturity, kindness and natural ability to be a teacher. At Camp Abilities Connecticut, he was a CIT for a group of students who had multiple impairments. Every time I observed Cody he was acting and teaching as I would. He is a natural teacher and his personal empathy for others who have vision impairments is inspiring to me as one of his teachers. I wish I could clone Cody and put him all over the state! He is always one of the first students I turn to to help me help another student with a vision impairment feel welcomed or supported.

Cody is one rock star student and he has taken it upon himself to fundraise money to go to the Alaska Camp Abilities. He has done all the work for this himself; relying only on myself, Justin and his parents for guidance.

Cody created his own webpage for fundraising. Here's the link: http://tryingtogettocampabilities.weebly.com/index.html

Please donate! Camp Abilities Alaska is co-directed by Justin Haegele (who you have read articles from right here on The Bee). They do great things at the Alaska chapter. Again, please donate! Every little bit helps :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stuck in the house because of the snow? Here's some fun for everyone!

Indoor Fun This Winter Season

By Justin A. Haegele, APE Teacher
with Robbin Keating and her vision tips

It’s the middle of the winter and you are itching for some physical activity. Problem is, when you look outside there is about 3 feet of snow on the ground and it is -10 degrees. Not a problem, try one of these four indoor physical activities you can do in almost any home.

1. 1 Exergaming – Exergaming is the new phenomenon in video gaming, but not the type of sit down and work out your thumbs video games you may think of. Gaming systems such as the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinnect have created video games which respond to human body movements. Each system has a multitude of different games ranging from sports such as tennis or bowling as well as fitness programs like Wii fit. Studies are beginning to show that some vigorous exergaming experiences can expend as many calories as an equally long physical education class. Until recently, this may not have seemed to be an option for people who are blind or visually impaired, but some Wii games have modes which verbalize all instructions, allowing people to listen to instructions and follow along.
Vision Tip: If your child with the vision impairment has difficulty participating due to body awareness/movement for the game, try modeling by using hand under hand or allow them to feel your body so that they get the idea of how they are supposed to move their bodies. Another fun variation on this would be to play blindfolded against your child with the vision impairment! It can be really fun to play games under simulation. You can use a bandana for total blindness or bubble wrap for low vision.

2. Break out your Richard Simmons VHS – When people think of workout videos or DVD’s, the idea of the early 1990’s and spandex pants may pop into their minds. But there is a new wave of work out video, including very intense workouts such as P90X or Insanity which boast guarantees of fit bodies in short periods of time. Most workout videos include verbal step by step directions for people of all abilities to follow along. For those without a pile of old Taebo videos, youtube.com includes a collection of fitness video clips.
Vis ion tip: Again, take a moment to teach body positioning to your child to help them get into the activity. A lot of times I do the activity while my student puts their hands on me to get the idea. I have literally taught one of my teenage how to run by having him crouch down and feel my legs as I jogged in place. It was a learning experience with fun for him and a great little workout for me!

3. Try a new workout – Okay, not everyone has workout videos or is motivated by them. Why not find a new exercise routine online (without the need of weights) and give it a shot. Website such as bodybuilding.com boast massive exercise libraries which contain many options for stay at home workouts.
ision tip: Try yoga with any age and almost any ability level child. We did yoga at night at our last Sports Adventure Weekend with our teenagers. We had students of varying physical abilities (including CP), deafblind and total vision loss students.
Here’s a link of one of thousands yoga sites. This one is simple yoga poses, http://yoga.lovetoknow.com/Slideshow:Simple_Yoga_Poses_for_Kids. Plus, you can do the P90 (not the X, he makes a regular one!) type workouts. They are actually pretty accommodating because he uses very simple workouts that don’t require a lot of equipment or vision. It is something the whole family can do. It will just take a few pre-teaching lessons to get body positioning correct.

4. The great house race – Being in this situation quite often, and having siblings, sometimes you need to come up with schemes to burn energy and have fun. Welcome the great house race! The only thing you need for this race is either a partner or a stop watch. This is how you play: Name something in the house that there are at least three of (walls, door knobs, facets, puppies) and race to be the first one to touch all of them. You do not have a partner? It’s a race against time. Keep your best time and beat your score. (Hidden benefit: The great house race offers orientation practice for your student or child with visual impairments or blindness).
Vision Tip: This is a great game for range of ages! Preschoolers eat this up and teenagers like the challenge (especially if family members play under simulation).