Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School Cool!

Happy back to school!

I hope everyone has gotten off to a great start. Back to school is crazy and exciting but for our kids, it's also the time they make their rounds with their teachers to review their vision statements. Does your child have a vision statement? A vision statement is a document that explains the vision impairment, modifications and anything else that the general education teacher needs to know. I know most of the students in CT have them. Our TVIs help them write them. This year I was so proud to see that one of high school age students made a brochure for her vision statement. It was so cool!

Parents, have you read your childs' vision statement? I think kids as young as fourth grade can handle coming in right before school starts and present their vision statements. Vision statements are also awesome for our kids because it also helps with some self-advocacy training. Our kids, when mature, should be the ones out there educating their general education teachers about their vision impairments with supports from their TVI or parent.

So....if your child doesn't have a vision statement, get one!

Next on our back to school discussion is how to addres the disability sensitivity issue. This is much easier to do in the elementary through middle school. High school isn't really the environment for my ideas but have no fear, I have one or two good ones for high school!

Here's a few of my ideas for elementary and middle school:
-- Vision simulation fun! Grab the simulator goggles and sleep shades and have some fun with mobility, independent living skills and classroom organization.
-- Vision inspired activities!
*Edible Braille (see my post on it) is a super fun one. We even do it for the paraprofessionals when they come to Braille day.
* I also like to do the Tactual Challenge with my students. The Tactual Challenge uses a box filled with everyday items in it. Students have to be blindfolded (no vision! even my print readers) and have to name as many items as they can pull out. They get a point for every correct item they identify in one minute. Before you play this game, preface it with about learning tactually. Take time to discuss the importance of correctly identifying objects for people with vision impairments.
*Braille Bug & The Braille Trail--These are great activities for Braille awareness. Heres' the one thing that I do that's unique. I don't let the sighted kids get the Braille Code dot combinations. That means that the numbers to each cell aren't on them. Instead, the sighted peers have to go to the Braille reader, give them the dot combination and then solve the puzzle. I do an overview of Braille before to get everyone familiar. www.afb.org/braillebug

For high school kids...
High school is just tricky because the social climate is different and the disability awareness units aren't like they are in middle school. You can do several of the activities with a little modifications that I listed above with high school classes. It really depends on the teachers.
One idea that I do is to reach out to the physical education teachers and offer to teach goalball and beep baseball in PE. I like to have my student be the teacher (and me play the dazzling role of assistant). They are great sports to play during PE. Everyone can play!

I hope everyone is off to good start with their new school years! Remember, if you have a teacher or education team that won't listen to you about implementing a disability specific curriculum, the Expanded Core Curriculum, get involved! Address the ECC as often as you can!

Feel free to send your OTs & PTs my way for more supports or resources. Anyone can email me for ideas. I am happy to help! Just please respect HIPPA/privacy laws. Email me: robbin.keating@gmail.com

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