FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice
by Scott Truax
I wanted you to know about a parent who has created a solution for helping her child be independent while dressing. Gracie Benedith has created these items and sent me the pictures and descriptions.
As a mother of a legally blind child, I saw the struggles that my son had to deal with getting dressed every single morning. My husband and I had to get up earlier to assist him with his clothes while trying to teach him how to get dressed independently. I suddenly had an epiphany to start a clothing line for blind and visually impaired people called Braille Code! Why not have a clothing line that they can call their own?
I designed this line with style that would appeal exclusively to the blind and visually impaired. Braille Code consists of:
- Polo shirts with my three blind mice or Braille Code logo with the braille back patch,
- Button-down shirts and blouses with braille number patches (inside) on each side for correct buttoning,
- T-Shirts with logos and back patches,
- Socks with back patches,
- Baseball caps with Braille Code logos,
- Right and Left adhesive patches to adhere to the inner tongue of any and every shoe to put on correctly!
All these items will assist children to get dressed more efficiently and independently! Although the line appeals to children, this brand can also assist adults who may have been dressing themselves for years to put on button-down shirts, socks and footwear correctly to save time on getting ready and walking out the door on time.
My goal is to give parents like me a way to help/give our children a sense of pride, independence, and acceptance of who they are with style!
You may contact me at email@example.com if you would like more information.
by Shannon Carollo
I am no stranger to the theme of independence. My husband is a member of the United States Air Force. We live on an American military base in Japan. I can't leave my house without being reminded of the independence I have been gifted, for I live alongside those who protect it and sacrifice for it. Oh, how thankful I am!
And there's the independence my husband and I daily (okay, hourly!) instill in our preschool children. For example, I often see a dreadfully messy room, and while it would be ten times less of an ordeal if I quickly reorganized it, I choose to call out, "Sweethearts!" (I say 'Sweethearts' on a good day or I resort to their first and middle names on a frustrating day), "Please come to your room and put away your clothes and toys." You parents know, I'm trying to think long-term and prepare my children for independent adult life. I want my children, and my students who are blind and visually impaired, to experience the freedom, ability, and self-esteem that come from accomplishing tasks independently.
It is this kind of independence Louis Braille provided for those who are blind or visually impaired when he developed braille. For those whose visual impairments make reading print impossible, uncomfortable, or slow, the mastery of braille opens up a world of independence. Instead of relying on others for reading and writing or having to solely rely on technology, a person who is visually impaired can rely on literacy achieved through braille. Now he can produce braille and read braille books, magazines, recipes, labels, calendars, lists, reports, menus, maps, and information. He can independently create shopping lists and record phone numbers "on the go" with a slate and stylus or a braille note taker. He can use a note taker with a refreshable braille display to record notes in school or at a work meeting. He can organize print material with braille.
Thanks to the concept of Louis' braille code, no longer does a visually impaired reader need to struggle to read with his nose nearly touching a library book, no longer does he get headaches from the eye strain induced by print reading, and no longer is it a given that he will read at a significantly slower pace than his peers. Yes, a braille reader has definitely been given a gift. Thank you, Louis Braille, for this gift of independence.
While the importance of braille and the independence it offers will remain the same, the braille code itself evolves, though infrequently. The Unified English Braille (UEB) code was established in 1995 to simplify rules and reduce ambiguity, and to harmonize the braille code for all readers and writers of English braille. Come January 2016, an updated UEB code will officially launch. This time the changes include adding technology symbols and removing several contractions. Thankfully, braille will continue to remain relevant in our information and technology age.
So, happy birthday and a robust thank you to the late Louis Braille! Thank you for developing braille, providing literacy, and furthering independence for those who are blind and visually impaired.
For more information on UEB, listen to AFB's free webinar A Brief Overview of Unified English Braille. Additionally, if you are the parent or teacher of a child with a visual impairment, please utilize FamilyConnect's Literacy Resources. And if your child attends school with sighted students, the Braille Bug® is a great way for children to learn more about braille through accessible puzzles, riddles, trivia, and secret "coded" messages.
by Susan Harper
Sometimes the best things that happen are happy unplanned events. We were going to a fundraiser concert that my husband's brass group was playing for. We decided to go to this Christmas Concert because it was afternoon. The next one was evening in a church and I knew by then my crew was not going to sit down and be quiet and listen. Most likely, it won’t make a difference what time of day it is, they won’t sit and be quiet for any length of time. Vinnie hates large crowds and clapping. He does love music.
The concert was in a gymnasium full of real Christmas trees and each tree was decorated by a business and they were all lit up. There was lots of food for sale and large round tables set up for eating and visiting. Eating is always good, my guys like food. I had no idea what this was until we arrived, so no preparation. I'm always good for a fast get away. However, this was low key.
We met some friends we knew and met some new home schooling friends with plans to get together. People were free to sit, walk around, however they wished to enjoy the food and music. Everyone was in a holiday upbeat mood. Kids were running around the adults. This one geeky, 13 or 14 year old (really nice kiddo) was letting Brandon use his light up drum sticks. This was tailor-made for my guys. There was food, music, and they didn't have to be quiet.
Then Santa arrived about halfway through. He was so good. He spotted my guy with the white cane and came right over, got down to his level and talked to him like any other child. He let Vinnie touch his beard and his costume. Santa asked if he had been a good boy. I enthusiastically replied, “Oh, YES, Santa!” Then of course, his twin Brandon came over.
Santa says, "Who is this?" He replies, “Brandon!”
Santa says, “Have you been a good boy?”
I couldn't help myself. I said, “OH, NOooo Santa!”
The eyebrows raised and Santa said, “Brandon you have a couple of weeks to work on this.”
I couldn’t have asked for better timing. We’re all still laughing and Brandon is really trying to be good. He really is, but rather high spirited (my word for ADHD). Vinnie had an experience that was fun.
I couldn’t have asked for a nicer, more enjoyable afternoon. I certainly couldn’t have planned it. What a great afternoon! Thanks, Santa!
by Maria Dibernardo
Hello everyone and welcome back to Maria’s sensory activities! Here is another one of my very favorite activities especially around the holidays!
Remember to include your child to the best of their ability. Use descriptive words such as "soft" for the flour, "grainy" for the salt, "slimy" for the oil, "cold" for the water, "minty" for the smell of peppermint. Allow your child to explore the ingredients.
Here's what you'll need:
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 tbs oil
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 drops liquid food coloring (red, green)
- 6 drops of peppermint oil (I bought mine at GNC) or extract
- Star-shaped cookie cutter or any other shape of your choice
- Pretty ribbon
- Small picture of your child
Now for the fun!
- Combine plain flour and salt.
- Add water, food coloring, and oil. Mix until ingredients are combined.
- Knead well. If consistency is too wet add a little plain flour.
- Roll into a ball and pat flat (we like to sing as we tap).
- Cookie-cut the flattened dough and lay on parchment paper or cookie tray. Poke a hole with the straw through one of the points of the stars (this is to thread the ribbon through once they're dry).
- Flip stars each day...it takes about 10 days to dry.
Once the stars are dry, you're ready to thread them into an ornament. Thread the ribbon through the hole, then thread the same ribbon through the hole in your child's picture. Tie a pretty bow, and voila!
Enjoy the smelly stars!
by Anne McComiskey
It’s that time of year again—time for bells and lights, songs and get-togethers. This is a wonderfully exciting time for us all...and potentially an overwhelming time for our little people who are blind or visually impaired. Here is a hint that might make a chat with someone very special or a visit from Auntie Harriett a little more fun for your kiddo. Readiness is the key.
First, it helps to talk with your child about the upcoming visit or experience so he can get a little prepared. Maybe practice some of the activities that will probably happen ahead of time. If a visit to Santa is in your holiday plans, you might gather a fake beard, a velvet hat or even a snippet of velvet material, candy canes, jingle bells, and anything else Santa might have on hand. Your baby could feel the materials and objects as you tell a little story about Santa...like, “this feels like Santa’s beard.” For toddlers the materials could be glued to cardboard to make a Santa visit book. A simple little story about going to see Santa could be fun.
Another way to practice is role playing. One adult could be Santa and you and kiddo could go through a play visit. Fun is the key ingredient. When the big visit comes, simplify it as much as possible. A trip to the mall when it isn't crowded would be a less confusing time for your child. Afterward you could review the visit by telling the story of the visit several times. Hopefully your child had a fun time and has stories to tell of her own, plus a lot of things to think about. Whether your family is going to Santa or going to family's homes for a party, the same readiness plan will make the holiday experience more fun. So the hint is to practice the experience beforehand, make the event as simple as possible and review afterward. Most importantly, have fun!
And Happy Holidays.
Editor's note: check out Emily's article series for more great ideas on how to incorporate social skills and other Expanded Core Curriculum skills into the holidays.
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