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.

Gift-Giving Reflection

Yep, I know it’s hard to believe, but the season for gifts is quickly approaching. Every year, we struggle with what to get Eddie for the holidays and so does everyone else. It’s hard to find the perfect gift, but by reflecting on some winners, I’m hoping it will help with the selection process this year. So, here are five of his favorites that have withstood the test of time. Musical instruments. At this moment, Eddie has in his room a set of bells, a snare drum, a keyboard, four different sizes of bongos, a tambourine, a guitar, and a harmonica. His preferred instrument varies


Quality Eddie Time

Eddie with a toy bird in a cage While Eddie’s sisters were attending a volleyball camp recently, Eddie and I had a rare opportunity to spend a few hours alone. Although I had plenty of errands to run, and things to do, I decided to take it slow and operate on Eddie time. We began by visiting my sister and her fiancé and then had lunch with James, Eddie’s Dad. Eddie was in a great mood, enjoying being the center of attention for a change. (His younger sister usually steals the show.) After lunch, we still had two hours to spare. I gave him many options and our conversation went a little like this: “Do you want to go to the


Father's Day Is Coming! Make Dad's Gift Meaningful to Him and His Child Who Is Blind

Parents truly love homemade gifts. My son who is blind has educators that have done an awesome job providing us with treasures. Getting something crafted by our own children is always a treat...and quickly put on display. The best gifts are meaningful to us, but also meaningful to our child, too. Here are four tips for creating a homemade gift perfect for Dad AND for their child who is blind. 1. Make it tactile. For Mothers’ Day this year I received the necklace being modeled in this photo by my sighted 6-yr-old. My son made it at school out of clay, and he used the bottom of his shoe to “stamp” a design. The


Egg Hunt Leads to Cane Usage!

From the moment Eddie began to willingly carry the long white cane, he has been a bit confused about its purpose. Some days he carries it 2-3 inches above the ground, he may be seen swinging it like a flag, or even pounding it into the pavement like a club. The concept of “sweeping” is mainly used when verbally prompted to do so. Mostly, it’s this attachment to his arm that he knows to take whenever he leaves the house...but doesn’t seem to know why. Before he was on his feet, we were taught to put items in his hand that would extend his reach into the environment. He was given wooden spoons, and similar items, and encouraged to reach out and tap objects or textures he wasn’t able to visually examine. As soon as he was walking, the cane was mandatory, and orientation and


Happy Easter and a Holy Event for My Child Who Is Blind

As I’ve never outright stated in this blog because I didn’t want to alienate anyone...or alienate myself from other parents, I am Catholic, and have always been. For me and my family, this means that children receive sacraments at certain times in their life. One of those blessed occasions for Eddie (and his sister, CC) happened to be today. Due to the ceremony and tradition involved, I didn’t know how Eddie would ever participate in these holy events; not due to blindness, but his uniqueness tied to Autism. Luckily, with the support of our parish, and especially our Priest, Eddie was encouraged to join CC and two of their peers. Anticipating the event made me very nervous, and the morning's rough start didn't help. Easter morning is full of chaos. There are Easter


Braille Valentines and Bribery

For most elementary schools and parents, February means the annual valentine preparation. Last year, I was in “go mode” and was able to quickly get Eddie’s valentines in order, but with little help from him. As an afterthought, I realized I didn’t exercise any patience, and just saw it as an item on my daily checklist instead of a learning opportunity for Eddie. Just like last year, I started by ordering braille valentines from National Braille Press. Then, I had high hopes of having Eddie braille his classmates’ names on the envelopes with my help. He does like to use the brailler on occasion, but it can


Holidays and “What Ifs”

After a year and a half of extensive loss within our family, including multiple grandparents and my father-in-law, we were anxious to spend the holidays surrounded by relatives. We’ve been staying with my brother-in-law and his family, and enjoying multiple events. Living amidst a household of six kids or more under one roof can be challenging for Eddie. My daughters love the chaos of holidays with the cousins, but Eddie isn’t always impressed. As usual, we can’t help but ask the negative “what if” questions when planning for the season. What if he is constantly upset? What if he doesn’t sleep? What if he gets


Santa Cruise and the ECC

As a gift to my children, my kids’ Grandma gave us tickets to go on a local “Santa Cruise.” This involved riding on a boat in a local lake out to an island highly decorated for the season, and Santa himself available to greet the kids. This became another opportunity to work on the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) during the Christmas season. Having never participated on a “Santa Cruise” before I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there were lots of Christmas lights and


Gingerbread Houses for Charity and for Eddie

To continue our holiday outings inspired by my Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) articles in relation to the season, we made gingerbread houses. A favorite charity of mine, The ISAAC Foundation, was holding an event to raise money for families affected by autism, which includes us. Their generosity helps out Eddie immensely, and we wanted to participate to give a little back. My sister was looking for a gift idea for the kids, and I asked her to purchase gingerbread houses for my


Holiday Outing with The Grinch

This season, as I thought about the holidays, I wanted to be sure to include Eddie. When asked how Eddie enjoys the season...besides listening to Christmas music on headphones...I had no reply. I thought, “Is Eddie tattling on me? Is he telling the world that I let him veg out frequently with our holiday radio station?” Whether or not Eddie was calling me out on allowing a passive holiday existence, I realized I had to step up my game. This idea spurred the articles I’ve written for FamilyConnect on


How Do You Incorporate the Expanded Core Curriculum Into the Holidays?

As most of you know, since Eddie was born, I've also ventured into the professional realm of blindness, and am now a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI). The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is specific to children with visual impairments, and covers 9 areas of instruction needed for a child with a visual impairment so they can access the world just like their peers without a vision loss: Orientation and mobility


Superman Eddie!

Eddie dressed up as Superman for Halloween, and he enjoyed his costume more than he ever has liked any costume. It might be because I took some of my own advice about Halloween costumes. It turns out that a little strategy can go a long way. Eddie wears a "Spio" suit to help with his sensory needs. It's basically a spandex outfit worn under his clothes and it covers almost his entire body. Lucky for us, his new suit was blue...which was perfect for a Superman costume. This is how we decided to incorporate his "medical" equipment. While shopping at the local costume shop, we found a Superman cape that matched


Halloween Costumes: Things to Keep in Mind If Your Child Is Visually Impaired

Many kids look forward to Halloween and the opportunity to dress up. Sometimes, children with visual impairments may need help in the imagination department. Our kids may not engage in "pretend play" like their typical peers, and therefore may be unsure about dressing up in a costume. In fact, some may have no desire to wear a costume, or simply no opinion about what their costume may be. Here are some quick tips to help those harder kids enjoy the costume aspect of this uniquely bizarre holiday. 1. Prep for the season. Encourage your child's particular interests and think about how they could be made into a Halloween costume. For example, if you child has been enjoying Dora the Explorer, start helping their imagination along by pretending to go on adventures just like


Making Plans for Father's Day

Note from Emily: There is no one better to write a blog for Father's Day than the best Dad I know, my husband, James. I'm grateful for his insight in this posting, and simply for who he is every day. All right, fathers out there who are struggling to make the right decisions, while being lucky enough to have a child with a disability under your wing. It's hard enough to have children with "normal" lives who depend on your every decision to be the right one. Decisions can be made to make your life better or the life of your child. I've always been told "happy wife, happy life." Well, that's not easy when you're dealing with a child who needs more of your time than your other


Being Thankful

I’m going to share a little secret that is often hidden by my mostly positive writing; raising a child like Eddie is pretty hard. Multiple times a day an overwhelming feeling of anxiety starts to build, and I do my best to block it, but it is always there under the surface. I could easily focus on the struggles he faces every day…and the fear that I can’t help him. Honestly, sometimes I can’t help but focus on that…but not today. Today, I’m focusing on being thankful. I’m thankful for his ridiculously contagious laughter, which comes out of nowhere, and makes us wonder if he’s possessed. I’m thankful for his hugs, and air kisses, because he’s never quite patient enough to make it all the way to my cheek. I’m thankful for his willingness to use a white


Gift Ideas for (Slightly) Older Kids

I look at this picture from last Christmas and wonder, “How can it already be that season again?!?” Every year, literally every year, I am asked to consider Christmas gift options for my visually impaired son. Friends and relatives are looking for a great idea that Eddie would enjoy. As a parent, I’m more concerned about what Eddie needs. Most days, due to developmental delays, Eddie doesn’t communicate what he wants; however, I’m always aware of what he needs. Eddie needs to be more independent. He also needs more activities that incorporate sensory stimulation. He needs more physical activity, and needs social interactions with peers.


Calling All Gift Ideas

How is it already December…again?!? Yep, it is the holiday season, which means many of us are purchasing presents for our children with visual impairments. I have searched high and low for the perfect gifts for my unique child, and have instead come up with some options that will work, but may not be absolutely perfect. I have stocked up on some new clothes, a few braille books, and sensory-stimulating devices. I have gone to my stand-by resources for children who are blind like the National Braille Press, Seedlings, and Future Aids. I even found some good buys on Black Friday. (Yes, I was a crazy person wondering the mall at 2:30 in the morning.) Sadly, I have yet to hear of a fantastic option for my blind, autistic son that he probably just couldn’t live without.


Giving Thanks

I’m not sure I’ve ever publicly given thanks to the many people in our lives that have been there for Eddie…and for us. I’m not very good at voicing my appreciation as often as I should, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I think I’ll speak up today in honor of Eddie’s staunch supporters. To our family: thank you for simply being there for us in whatever capacity is necessary. This has meant childcare for a weekend away, childcare for siblings while Eddie travels to doctors, a needed hug during a rough patch, slipping us some cash when life’s expenses were excessive, or a pat on the back when all is well. We have taken many risks knowing that we had you as our safety net, which has allowed us to say “yes” to any opportunity for Eddie. Even though it’s important to know we can


Holiday...Parties

Yes, it is another holiday post. This time of year certainly gives me a lot to talk about when it comes to my son with a visual impairment. Today, Eddie’s kindergarten class had their holiday party. Because Eddie participates in class whenever he can (which means whenever he is not throwing a tantrum), his Dad and I wanted to attend. I mean, why wouldn’t we? This is his class and these are his peers; in the small town we live in, they will always be his peers. First off, we walked through the front doors of the school and we heard Eddie wailing down the hall. I think to myself, what a great start! (Insert sarcasm) The other parents, siblings, and students are moving into the classroom and we are moving down the hall to find our loud son. Come to find out, he simply was


Holiday Letters

Being December, it seems I can’t get away from writing about the holidays. Besides buying presents, another thing that comes up annually is our holiday letter. Not everybody participates in this tradition, but many of my family and friends always send out cards and often letters this time of year. I’m sure you’re familiar with the holiday photo card and possibly an insert about what loved ones have been doing over the past year. This can be yet another hurdle for those of us with children that are as unique as ours. After Eddie was born I did not send out a holiday letter or card for a few years. It was just too hard to write and