Browse By Topic: Holidays

In honor of the holiday season, check out Emily Coleman's An Expanded Core Curriculum Approach to the Holidays series to get ideas on how to weave educational opportunities into the holiday season. And any time of the year is a good one to check out the FamilyConnect Toys and Gift Ideas for Parents of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Everything You Need for a Memorable, Accessible Easter for a Child with a Visual Impairment

If you take a walk down memory lane to recollect your most treasured Easter celebration as a child, what comes to mind? I think about visiting my grandparent’s home in Tampa, Florida, wearing a new-to-me fancy dress that could twirl just so, searching diligently through the grass for plastic (coin-filled) and previously hand painted hard-boiled eggs, eating grandma’s homecooked ham, and swapping giggles and treats with my siblings and cousins. No doubt the day began and ended with my dad reading the resurrection story. Thirty-some years later and I vividly remember the details. So, how does a family who has a child who is blind or visually impaired adjust these or similar traditions in order to create an accessible, meaningful Easter holidayone which will be


Classroom Parties for Children with Visual Impairments

Editor's note: Valentine's Day is just around the corner and so are the classroom parties at your child's school. To help include your child who is blind or visually impaired, Samantha Kelly shares her tips and advice on creating an accessible school celebration. Classroom Parties for Children with Visual Impairments When your child is in elementary school, there is typically a room parent who is busy organizing classroom parties months in advance. Recently, I received a note from each of my children’s room parents asking for a donation, wondering if I could help at the party, and I was provided with


Yes, Blind Children, You May Touch Your Elves on the Shelf: A Letter from Santa Claus

Editor's note: FamilyConnect is hand-delivering a note from Santa, who gives permission to children who are blind or visually impaired to touch their Elf on the Shelf. We hope you utilize this post from Holly Bonner, visually impaired mother of two girls, to make the holidays even more meaningful for your child with a visual impairment. Yes, Blind Children, You May Touch Your Elves on the Shelf By Holly Bonner Elf on the Shelf has quickly become a popular holiday tradition


A Fun, Festive Holiday Take on the Expanded Core Curriculum

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and with a little intentionality, that can be the truth! This season needn’t be about expensive gifts but about what’s far more important… using the additional time off from work and school to reconnect with family, enjoying each other while creating lifelong memories and traditions. This year we remind you to look at holiday connections, memories, and traditions through the lens of creating enjoyable,


Holiday Gift Ideas for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments, a Round-Table Discussion

One of my favorite things about our FamilyConnect community is the opportunity to brainstorm together. While we may not have the chance to get together with a group of local friends who are parents of similar age children with visual impairments, we have the ability to do so right here. While sometimes we convene over IEPs, potty training frustrations and college-readiness skills, today we get to focus on a less stressful,


Four Activities Fit for Fall—To Include Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Oh, autumnwe’re so happy you’re here! Can’t you just smell the warm mulling spices, taste the cider, see the fiery foliage, hear the crunch of leaves underfoot, and perhaps best of all, feel the crisp air on your cheeks? In my opinion, this season wins at best exhilarating the senses. For this reason, fall is the easiest season to experience and enjoy for children with visual impairments. Let’s not take that for granted; let’s take full advantage! Here are four activities aimed at involving your child who is blind or visually impaired in fall fun: Get outdoors and go for


A Meaningful and Accessible Halloween for Children with Visual Impairments

Halloween is a favorite day of the year for many childrencandy, costumes, and fall activities, how could it not be?! Your child with a visual impairment can be easily included in all things Halloween and activities leading up to Halloween. Here are a few ideas. Trick-or-Treating If you choose to participate in trick or treating in your neighborhood or to attend a local community Trunk or Treat, your child may want to dress up. When picking out a costume, remember your child's preferences and how some costumes present sensory issues. There are many creative ways to


A Toast to Fathers of Children with Visual Impairments

Here’s to you, Dad. A provider, a protector, a teacher, an encourager. A source of strength, a source of love. Time with you is precious and remembered. You are respected, you are adored. You’re a role model, Dad. Thank you. Thank you for holding and nurturing that precious babe. Thank you for playing, tickling, wrestling, and


Teacher Appreciation Day and Your Child’s Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist

National Teacher Appreciation Day 2017 is Tuesday, May 9th; Teacher Appreciation Week is initiated by schools sometime between early and mid-May. While you may have a few ideas generated for your child’s classroom teacher, I wonder if you’ve considered how to celebrate your child’s Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and orientation and


Adding a Braille Touch to Special Occasions - An Activity for Mother's Day

Editor's note: Mother’s Day is around the corner! Dads and others, what a perfect opportunity to work alongside your child to create a tactile card for Mom using a braille design. Have fun and don’t forget to make the experience meaningful to your child! Adding a Braille Touch to Special Occasions By Sheila Rousey, VisionAware Peer Advisor It would seem that we celebrate a special occasion or holiday and, then before we know it, we are celebrating yet another one. Some holidays seem to get a bit more attention than others, but a visit to your local retail store’s card


If Your Child Enjoys Beeping Easter Egg Hunts, You May Have This Man to Thank

By Amy Lynn Smith Ever since learning that his daughter, Rachel, would be blind, David Hyche has actively sought ways to make sure she can fully participate in all the joys of childhood and life. When Rachel was still a toddler, David was helping his church plan an Easter egg hunt and wanted to find a way for her to join in like other children. “It’s no fun having an adult take your hand and put it on an Easter egg,” he says. “Kids need to find it themselves.” A bit of searching turned up a man in Los Angeles who was making beeping Easter eggs. David ran with the inspiration and started making them himself.


Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Easter Traditions

The goal of the day is idea-sharing. Let’s put our heads together and consider how to make the holiday of Easter, its traditions and celebrations, just as meaningful and enjoyable to a child with a visual impairment as it is to a child with full sight. What Is Easter? It helps to begin with a brief summary of the holiday. Similar to our discussion on including a child who is blind or visually impaired in Christmas traditions, we know Easter is a compilation of assorted traditions. Predominantly, many would say, is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s son, three days after His death on


Happy Valentine's Day: Activities for Your Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Cultivate love for love is the light that gives the eye to see great and noble things. Helen Keller Every day, you are cultivating the love you have for your child who is blind or visually impaired. You spend the necessary time and effort to ensure they are receiving proper care; you advocate on their behalf so they can have access to the services they need to succeed


Celebrating and Creating New Family Traditions Around the Holidays

Families all around the world celebrate the holidays differently depending on their culture and religion, but no matter how they celebrate, most families develop special holiday traditions. When I was growing up, my family had traditions every year that were passed down from generation to generation. We would put up special handmade decorations, such as ornaments and wreaths, and make special desserts and holiday meals. When I started my own family, I enjoyed creating new family traditions that we could pass down to our new generations to come! When you have a child who is blind or visually impaired in your family, this life experience can give you


Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Christmas Traditions

Last year we discussed including your child who is blind or visually impaired in Hanukkah traditions; I learned much as I asked my friend, a rabbi, to explain the holiday traditions to me. Together, the rabbi and I discussed how to make each tradition meaningful and accessible to a child with a visual impairment. Today we turn our attention to Christmas. We will take a look at the holiday and again discuss how we can make the traditions meaningful and accessible. While Hanukkah has a


The Best Holiday Crafts

When you have a child who is blind, you don’t always receive homemade gifts from school that were made entirely by your children. It’s difficult for teachers and classroom assistants to let a child have total control over an art project. Therefore, we often receive projects that were done with significant support, which can honestly be disheartening to receive. My favorite art projects that come home are the ones that appear to be done entirely by my son. He has very little interest in crafts, isn’t inclined to spend a lot of time with art supplies, and cannot physically see the end product if it’s 2-dimensional. Therefore, I expect it’s a challenge to engage him in a project for any length of time. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8013" alt="A


Preparing Our Children for the Holidays

When we think about the major holidays that occur this time of year, we often focus on the big day itself. We picture opening presents, plan who's coming to visit, and consider our religious events or beliefs. So, when we prepare our children who are blind for the holidays, we can get stuck on "just" the day and not the planning that begins much sooner. For example, when we were preparing our son Eddie for Thanksgiving this year, we only started the day before. As we thought about family arriving and the next day's events, we knew we had to discuss it with him. However, we didn't involve him in the pre-holiday tasks, so it seemed


Toys "R" Us Quiet Hours and Toy Guide for Children with Autism

If your child is blind or visually impaired and has autism or a sensory processing disorder, I wanted to be sure you heard Toys “R” Us’ exciting new venture. The US-based retail giant opened its UK doors last month for “quiet hours” on November 6th. Lights and music were lowered, announcements were eliminated, and “quiet zones” were set up where coloring and quiet activities took place. Toys “R” Us hoped to create a more sensory-friendly environment for a few hours while children could create wish lists, peruse toys, and even rest a few minutes in the quiet zones. Toys “R” Us succeeded. It


Holiday Travel Tips for Families with Visually Impaired Children and Teens

Heading anywhere for the holidays? This year we’re opting to stay home and soak up two weeks of minimal commitments and maximum relaxation. I cannot wait to regroup and unwind. If you, on the other hand, are opting to visit family, sightsee, or vacation, you brave soul, and you aim to experience respite on your adventure…not to mention make the most (educationally) of your experience…read on. I’ve compiled a list of travel suggestions published on AFB and WonderBaby in years past. The only suggestions missing are yours! So, gather a few for yourself, and leave a few for others in the comment


Holiday Gifts for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments

Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are quickly approaching, and I for one cannot wait! I’d like to say it’s because I enjoy the snow, holiday decor, and mostly the extra family time and memory making—because I do! But if you can keep a secret, I’m most looking forward to the surprise puppy we’re getting (the long-hoped-for pup that just so happens to be ready before Christmas, so we’ll call her a Christmas present!). Now unless you, like myself, have been desiring a dog for years and are fully prepared for the commitment, I’d not recommend a Christmas dog. What then would I suggest as a present for


Making the Most of Thanksgiving Week with Your Visually Impaired Child or Teen

We at AFB are tremendously thankful for you and your dedication, parents and family members of children with visual impairments. Our entire community wants your child to develop into one who pursues his goals and interests, and who is well engaged with a community of mutually beneficial relationships. We know you, parents and family members, have the greatest impact on your children developing into such an individual. And like always, we want to support you with resources for your journey. I hope you have ample time off from work this week and can enjoy your family to the fullest. Perhaps this week can be filled with


Halloween Weekend Activities for Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Happy Halloween from FamilyConnect! Are you looking for some fun, sensory activities for your child with a visual impairment this Halloween? With only a few days left, here are some ideas you and your child can do this weekend. We hope you will give these must-do activities a try and share your experience with us! Trick-or-Treating. Let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t love trick-or-treating? Dressing up and going around the neighborhood with your friends and family is the best part of Halloween. And talk about a great opportunity for your child to show off their


"Trick-or-Treating" As an Orientation and Mobility Lesson- Oh Yeah!

Listen, this is where we get creative. Our kiddos want to trick-or-treat and that’s just what we’ll do. [Insert sneaky little laugh.] However, don’t think we can’t slip in some orientation and mobility throughout the process. Here’s what I have in mind. If trick-or-treating really is a motivator for your child, it’s time to invite your child to learn and practice a trick-or-treat route. If you don’t know the ins-and-outs of teaching a route, don’t


Super Dad

Dad - what the "S" on your chest really means. Dads are often the silent partners - the ones who stand in the shadows. They're far from being the bad guys, though. In fact, they are the protectors of the family - the good guys. When danger strikes, they have the superhuman speed of Superman to react faster than a speeding bullet to fight off whatever threat has obstructed their paths. A special needs dad might find this role to be different than what was first expected or imagined. Normally, from the time a child is born, a father dreams of tossing around a football with his son or taking


Daddy's Got Your Back

The best way to start this blog about Mary Rose and her dad, Dave, is by starting it on a positive note, the way Dave starts every morning with our precious 10-year-old daughter... Dave, "Mary Rose who's got your back?!" Mary Rose, "You got my back, Daddy!" Dave, "Who's got my back?!" Mary Rose, "I got your back, Daddy!" Dave, "Who's got our backs?!" Dave and Mary Rose, "We got our backs!" Dave and Mary Rose, "GO BUSHLANDS! Hooyah!!" I can't even tell you how it warms my heart to hear this uplifting cheer to greet our day! I have often thought about how blessed


Dads, You Are Adored; Happy Father's Day

Oh, dads! Do you know how treasured you are? I hope you do, but something tells me you are in the dark. I think about my entire childhood in hopes of capturing my fondest memory, and do you know what it is? None other than my dad reading to me before bedtime. He read the Chronicles of Narnia series and the Mandie collection for sure, but the rest are forgotten. It wasn't the books I valued, but the time with my dad that encapsulated all that was right in the world. Whether through wacky outdoor games (like the shaving cream slide leading to the baby pool as described by David Hyche in


Children's Tributes to Their Mothers

Parents are vital in the lives of their children. When your child is blind it can add a complicating layer to the process. Getting it all just right is the goal all parents strive for but really, perfection can only ever be a goal, not the reality, right? Well, we asked students who are blind for comments about their mothers, and it appears that many of you actually are getting it just right. We hope you’ll enjoy reading these sweet comments as much as we did, and reflecting on the important part that mothers play in the lives of their children. Happy


What Your Future Adult Son or Daughter Will Say to You on Mother's Day

Lately I've been talking to my mom every few days. I just love when she calls to check in on me (okay, check in on her granddaughters!). It's soothing to hear her voice; it's comforting to know she cares; and it's helpful to get her advice on…everything! I love my mom. Yet I have a head full of memories reminding me I didn't fully comprehend or express my love for her as a child. I didn’t adequately appreciate the years and years of her drying my tears, mending me back to health, preparing meal after meal after meal, watching my (lack of) softball skills, “managing” my attitude, and scrubbing the floors. I


Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Passover Traditions

Remember when we discussed including your child with vision loss in Hanukkah traditions? It was well-received and hopefully helpful. I would like to begin offering suggestions for the inclusion of your child in a variety of holidays and religious celebrations. Be on the lookout this year and next for blogs regarding Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Easter. If you have additional holiday or religious celebration suggestions, please let me know. Today, however, we again


Beeping Egg Hunts: Ten Years Later

Editorial note: Check out David's tips on hosting a beeping Easter Egg event for children who are blind or visually impaired, from a few years ago. Rachel, age 7 I can’t believe it has been ten years since we held our first beeping Easter egg hunt for my daughter Rachel. I combined a beeping egg hunt with my church’s traditional Easter egg hunt that first year. My daughter was about a year and a half old and I wanted to find a way for her to enjoy


Accessible Valentines for Your Child or Adult Who is Blind or Just Loves Braille!

Valentine's Day is right along the corner. Nothing could be better than to give or receive a fully accessible card in braille. This is possible but time is running out. We have several recommendations but they are time sensitive so check out our Valentine's Day Card, Craft, and Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired page right away. As Valentine's Day approaches, how do you support your child's impulse to create a handmade gift for grandma and grandpa, or in later years, keep up with the inevitable


Happy Holidays from FamilyConnect!

As I reflect back on 2015, it always amazes me that the joys, experiences, and challenges that transpire in our lives are uniquely different every year. I remember the most difficult years of the struggle of caring for my son health-wise were the first five years of his life. He had retinoblastoma, a malignant infant eye cancer that was both life threatening and blinding. Our family managed to cope and survive through our parental worry and anxiety, balancing attention and care for my other children, financial stress, and scheduling of the monthly and bi-monthly surgeries under anesthesia. I didn’t know what the future would hold for my son


A Survival Guide for the Holidays When You Have a Child Who Prefers Calm

A math equation we parents of sensitive children know well: A sensitive child + A new environment + A Loud crowd of voices + A Late-night party + A possible itchy Christmas dress or slacks = A recipe for many (not at all merry) meltdowns. I saw it today; bless his heart. The boy in the back of my child’s school “frenzy” (it’s an assembly, but “frenzy” is certainly more accurate) preferred calm, while the majority of children sung holiday songs and screamed with delight. He held his hands over his ears and rocked, wanting a little more peace and a little less party. If you have a


Holiday Reflections

This guest blog post was written by long-time NAPVI Regional Coordinator Jeannette Christie, who works with families in the greater New York City region. Aww, the holidays. They can be joyful and stressful all at the same time. I think back to the time when my son was little and playing with toys. I remember how, of course, at the beginning of my journey in having a visually impaired child I bought no specialized toysjust toys off the shelf of Toys r Us or any toy store we went to. I am glad I didn’t know any better, because now I realize that when he went to school or played at someone’s house there wouldn’t be specialized toys available for him. I guess what I am saying is everyone’s family is different and there is no right or wrong way to


Inspired by the Holidays: Volunteering with Your Older Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Can I tell you my favorite holiday memory from childhood? I was 8 or 10; my parents, siblings, and I bundled up and squeezed into the minivan on our way to “Meals on Wheels”. We collected about 4 single-serving hot meals; slices of roasted turkey, runny mashed potatoes, green beans, and pecan pie enclosed in Styrofoam. We were given directions to 4 homes and off we went. I remember meeting adults my grandparents age who lived alone and who seemed eager to chat with our family. I instantly liked them. We gave each person a meal, accepted friendly hugs, and drove home changed. That began a


Inspired by the Holidays: A Letter from Santa and Literacy Galore for Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Thank you, holiday season, for generating major motivation for our beautiful little people to read and write. When my children come home from school this afternoon I will ask them to write a Christmas wish list. I’ll grin as I watch their uncharacteristic enthusiasm for literacy. My oldest, the perfectionist, will ask for help with spelling. My youngest, the ultra-spirited one, will be content with guessing. I’ll be happy they’re practicing. Let’s think of further ideas for incorporating literacy training this frosty month: This is too cool. If you sign up online


Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Hanukkah Traditions

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with a family friend, a rabbi. I asked him to explain the holiday of Hanukkah along with its traditions and celebrations. He explained that the holiday of Hanukkah commemorates a time (2,180 years ago) when G-d empowered the ancient Israelites to defeat the powerful Syrian-Greek army. The army, under the leadership of Antiochus Epiphanes, sought to conquer Israel and cruelly deny the Jews their right to worship G-d or practice their faith. Although vastly outnumbered and short of weapons, the brave Israelites miraculously defeated the Syrian-Greek army over a three-year


Experience Gifts for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa

“This Christmas,” my parents told me when I was twelve “we are going on a family trip instead of buying presents. Here’s why: Do you remember what we bought you last year? No? Well, you never forget an experience.” They were right. I never forgot that trip; we drove from our home in Raleigh to a cabin-inspired hotel in the North Carolina mountains for the weekend. It was my first time playing in the snow and it was marvelous. And so began a new tradition where we had a small gift to open on Christmas, but the highlight was the forging of a memory. To my parents, thank you for that


Inspired by the Holidays: Take an "Autumn Walk" and Encourage Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired to Discover the Sights, the Smells, and the Feel of Fall

I will never forget his question. My transition students and I were on a nature trail walk and it was a particularly rocky section. One teen who was totally blind opted for sighted guide, so I offered him my arm. We all strolled on and chatted; all except this one, typically talkative, teen. "What's on your mind?" I asked. "Ms. Shannon, how many snakes do you see?" he asked with a quivering voice. "What?! None! Why do you ask?" "I know snakes live in the woods. I thought you must see them all over the place." I assured him that snakes prefer to flee from the noise and if I saw one,


Inspired by the Holidays: Encouraging Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired to Get Curious About Careers

I guess you could say I’m as inspired by the holidays as I am by Emily Coleman’s blog series: "A Holiday Approach to the Expanded Core Curriculum". Take, for instance, Emily’s advice to have your child ask family members about their careers in the blog post, “Career Education for the Holidays”. This is where I want to focus. You probably have a


Inspired by the Holidays: Enlisting the Help of Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired with Your Thanksgiving Meal Preparation

Last year Emily Coleman blogged about living skills instruction over the holidays. I know Thanksgiving week can be an intense week of traveling or hosting relatives, and you may feel held captive by the kitchen, but. But what if this week can also be a time for your child who is blind or visually impaired to improve her cooking skills and shine? What if


Inspired by the Holidays: Imparting the Discipline of Gratitude to Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Last year, Emily Coleman blogged about teaching social skills over the holidays; it’s a must read. And if you read it last year, it’s a must re-read. Inspired by Thanksgiving, I want to address the specific social skill of gratitude. It’s really more than a social skill; it’s a life skill, or more accurately, it’s a “this is the secret to living well” and “this is the secret to healthy relationships” discipline. We, me at the top of the list, can


Inspired by the Holidays: Ideas, Tips, and Resources for Families of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

"Silver bells, silver bells, soon it will be…" I know, right?! I'm equally as staggered. Wasn't it just Thanksgiving, 2014? Didn't we just take down the holiday lights? I guess not; my, how the day-to-day intensity of parenting leaves us wondering where a year went. And so we look ahead to the holiday season. One we can intentionally fill with child-wonder, quality time, memorable traditions, and lastly, significant learning opportunities. So here's the plan, my plan at least: You focus on enjoying your children; notice and appreciate the simple, beautiful


Halloween Fun with Pumpkin Spice Playdough

One of the many reasons I am excited it’s Fall is because it’s time to make my favorite recipes! Pumpkin Spice Playdoh smells soo yummy and is a blast of sensory experiences…remember as you are creating it with your child/family, it is the process not the product that’s important. Here are some helpful tips: Have your child experience dry/wet ingredients using descriptive words such as soft flour, warm wet water, gritty salt, slippery for the oil. Smell the pumpkin spice and compare to the smell


A Sense of Community

My sister invited me to her granddaughter’s (she’s 2) birthday party. I love to go because there are always lots of kids and it is outdoors. She bought a bouncy house and said I could use it for my boys’ birthday parties if I wanted to. Oh, major downer for me. I thanked her and said, “I guess you don’t understand that because my children are special needs, their social circle of age appropriate friends is smaller. We usually have family parties.” Actually, I’m glad she didn’t understand because she always includes our children in family gatherings. I make sure we have the means to deal with the need for a hasty exit if needed. We home school and our twins, age 8 are both special needs. Vinnie is blind. Brandon has hydrocephalus and a seizure


Happy Accident/Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!

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


Peppermint Stars Ornaments

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


Holiday Readiness

It’s that time of year againtime 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


FamilyConnect 2014 Holiday Guide Now Available

It is that time of year again that brings both joy and boundless levels of stress. We have put together a Holiday Guide for Parents of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired that will help you get through the season. Trying to find that perfect gift for your child who is blind? On the Holiday Guide we have collected several articles with tips and specific toy ideas. For that teen or adult you should browse the holiday issue of AFB's


Pumpkin Activities for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired!

We're delighted to have a guest blog post today from Maria Dibernardo. Maria writes, "Hi, my name is Maria. I am the proud mom of my 16-year-old daughter, Jewels, who is totally blind from ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) as she was born at only 23 weeks of gestation. Here are some messy activities that we used to do when she was younger and enjoy sharing them today. Hope you and your family have fun with them, too. Remember they could be adapted to any age group." Carving a Pumpkin Carving a pumpkin is easy and a great sensory activity. Here are the steps: Using two hands, explore the outside of the pumpkin feeling the shape and the


A Book By and For Dads of Children with Disabilities, in Honor of Father's Day

Dads of Disability: Stories for, by, and about fathers of children who experience disability (and the women who love them) It is not often that we see a book written by fathers of special needs children about their experiences. Dads of Disability: Stories for, by, and about fathers of children who experience disability (and the women who love them) focuses on fatherhood themes, and was compiled and edited by Gary Dietz, the father of a special needs child. Dietz crafted this book to be shared


Mother's Day Craft and Card Ideas for Blind Children

Mother's Day is just around the cornerit's this coming Sunday, May 11. With that in mind, be sure to check out a new article from Emily: How Dads (and Others) Can Help Blind Children Make Mother's Day Cards That Are Meaningful for Mom Here are some additional ideas: Honoring Mother's Day: Paths to Literacy Sensory Art Ideas from


Have You Ever Been to an Easter Egg Hunt for Children Who Are Blind?

Have you been to an Easter Egg hunt for children who are blind or visually impaired? Have you thought about starting one? These events are a wonderful time for the entire family and are also a good place to practice those mobility skills. Here is information for a recent beeping egg event held in Florida, and a search on Google finds many more spread across the country. If you would like to learn how to set up an event in your community


Sharing Halloween Stories and Photos

Got a scary photo or story you would like to share? FamilyConnect is inviting you to send photos of your very cute child in their Halloween costume. (Thank you to AFB's director of web operations, Crista Earl, for getting us started with this great picture of her dog guide, Paige, dressed as Superdog!) It can be from any year but we would appreciate a little description to go with it. We will post the pictures online with descriptions for the enjoyment of those who cannot see the photo. So just send photos to me at familyconnect@afb.net with


Happy Independence Day from FamilyConnect!

FamilyConnect wishes you and your family a happy Fourth of July! On FamilyConnect you'll find a wealth of great information to help you guide your visually impaired child to increased personal independence, at home and at school. We have tips for every age. Here are just a handful! 9 Great Articles on Increasing Your Child's Independence For infants and toddlers who are blind or visually impaired, learn about Hand Under Hand and Hand Over Hand Techniques for showing


Instructions for Beeping Easter Egg Hunt for Visually Impaired Children

Editorial note: We're delighted to turn the blog over to guest blogger David Hyche, a NAPVI dad and ATF agent, for his tips on hosting a beeping Easter Egg event for children who are blind or visually impaired. Holding a Beeping Easter Egg Event To hold one of these events you will need a large flat grassy area with no holes, large rocks or fire ants. If you are from the northern US or a country that does not have fire ants, count your blessings. I mark off an area appx. 50 meters


Valentine's Day Resources for Families of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired

As Emily wrote last Mother's Day, "As a parent of a child with a visual impairment, art projects make me a little nervous. I want my child to participate in activities that are meaningful to him, and art can be a tricky subject if you have a teacher that is not perceptive to a child's particular needs." She wrote about how great it was, then, to receive "two very tactile projects" from Eddie: a flower vase created by gluing tissue paper onto a jar, and a piece of clay he had molded, then decorated with glass rocks and silk flowers. As Valentine's Day approaches, how do you support your child's impulse to create a handmade gift for grandma and grandpa, or in later years, keep up with the


How Do You Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Your Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?

We are seeking your best tips on great ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with your children who are blind or visually impaired. Do you have a fun tactile craft project or activity you would like to share with others on FamilyConnect? Here is a chance to win an adorable Yak stuffed animal, donated by the Rubin Museum of Art, or for those interested, four tickets to tour the USS Intrepid, donated by New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Send your ideas to


Happy Holidays From FamilyConnect!

It's the time of year again when we all face the task of finding the perfect gift for our children and loved ones. It can be especially difficult to find toys that will be a real winner with our children who are blind or visually impaired when so many toys require vision to enjoy them. We have assembled some information that could help you in that search for toys that your child who is visually impaired will enjoy. There is also information on how to plan activities to


Getting Ready for the Holidays and Spending Time with Your Family

It seems it's a busy time for many families as we get ready for the holidays, whether it's decorating, shopping, or preparing food for special dinners and parties with family and friends. Searching and finding just the right gifts for your loved ones can be fun and can be challenging. If you celebrate the holidays by sharing gifts we'd love to hear your ideas of presents you've given to your child who is visually impaired that you think other parents would want to know about. I like the holidays because the kids are out of school and many people take the time off for vacation. We have more free time to spend with the family to enjoy each


Teaching the Best Part of the Holidays

Yet again, the holidays are coming, which I know because the stores have been decked out for weeks. This is the time of year when I start my list-making and wondering what to buy my kids, including my son who is blind. This year I find myself wondering, are my children considering what their family and friends would want for Christmas? Or, as I assume, are they more concerned about what Santa will put under the tree for them? All children, but especially children with visual impairments, can find themselves in a world that revolves around them. As parents, we can change that by


Thanksgiving for Our Children with Special Needs

When a child with blindness or a disability is born into a family, or when a child becomes blind at some later point in life, parents initially feel grief and devastation. As life goes on, as families adjust to the news and try to figure out what this means to their lives and how this disability will impact their lives, it is difficult. At some point, different for everyone, parents realize what a gift their child with a disability is! The experience opens up a whole new world for you and your family. Siblings become sensitive and aware of people who are different, parents meet some wonderfully devoted professionals that serve their


Sharing the Holidays with Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired

Again it is the time of year that has families gearing up for another holiday season. For those of us with a child who is visually impaired we not only have to think about organizing our families, but also how to include our visually impaired children in a way that will be enjoyable to them. As a mom of one such child, I happen to have a few thoughts on this very topic. Important things to remember over the holidays are keeping with tradition, teaching in the moment, adaptation, and time management. I understand that my four-year-old son who is blind, Eddie, doesn't always love every family activity, but neither does my older child who


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