Eyes and Independence
Planning, creating, writing, reading, spelling, mapping, comparing, matching, weighing, counting, adding, exploring and problem solving is what I saw today - all going on in the local shop.
This morning at the local supermarket a ‘prep child’ with his mother were interacting, communicating, prompting, sharing the experience together of shopping for the week ahead for lunch, breakfast and dinner. They were having fun chatting, encouraging one another, taking ownership of each role in the shopping expedition. The tool was a shopping list and one they had obviously created together.
They were not the only ones in this interactive process in the supermarket. There was also a father and son doing almost the exact thing. The young boy ticked off items that had been written down and I observed him helping dad to pack the items into groups, so he was asked to put together all the ‘cold items’. In real life situations, we continue to develop these concepts – the ‘hands on’ experience and having the environment to learn within.
Parents are teachers too. This weekend, more than the ‘sight words’ for the week were being learnt. Well done to those parents who encouraged the learning, invited the child to be part of the shopping experience and share quality time together. Of course, learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom in a school environment. Every day, every minute learning happens. Embrace the opportunities you have with your children for you to be another teacher in their life.
Pictures below are of two handwritten shopping lists and a picture with the writing 'When it comes to education, there's no school like home!"
What does progress look like?
As a specialist for children with a vision impairment and multiple disabilities, supporting the parent/s is so important for empowering them, in teaching them how to observe for progress, little steps, slight changes – even something small is important to notice.
Every parent wants to observe progress being made by their child.
This could include:
- Responding to voice
- Responding to a musical sound
- Change of breathing pattern
- Appearing to notice something
- Do you think he just looked? If you think he did, he probably did.
- The extra babbling sound
- A new sound when playing on the floor
- An extra hour of sleep overnight!
- Less seizure activity
- Small steps – don’t have to be big gains
- A new tooth on the way
- Have just come out of hospital – starting to drink again
- Grown out of her size 00’s
- Avoiding eye contact – (to avoid, requires noticing first)
- They may look and then look away
Has your child made progress this week?
Share the progress…
A young child who appears ‘not to be making progress’ may be the first indicator that the child may have an impairment in an area of development. Further investigation is recommended. Consult a GP for a referral to a Paediatrician. In the meanwhile, observe, and invite other specialists nearby to gather data and contribute towards notes and informal assessments.
In my past blogs, I've referred to 'joining the club' , the experiences of home visits by specialists, the effects on siblings. This week I am handing the discussion over to some Australian specialists who are sharing information on early signs of a vision impairment, along with parents sharing their experiences in the process. This link just shows you a snippet of specialist conversations from this website that was developed for parents raising children, with a particular focus on the early years and children with disabilities. The site also has a very practical feature when you need to search for a provider in a particular geographical area with specialist skills. 'Eyes and Independence' matches 3 tick boxes. Add it to 'your Neighbourhood' map. A fantastic resource for all parents!
Click on this link: Raising Children Network
I recall the day when I knocked on the door of a family home and it appeared someone was there but perhaps, they didn’t hear me knocking. I wondered whether to persist or not. Perhaps, they were having a bad day and didn’t want to invite this ‘specialist’ inside. She came to the door, having just got out of bed. She had been on night shift and lost track of time or just basically needed to sleep. Working and caring for a child with special needs is damn hard work. And for those families who experience this from the birth of the child, the outcome from this long awaited pregnancy has provided something totally unexpected. You then became an automatic member of a new club. It’s one of those clubs that you didn’t choose but a club that can reap benefits when you get actively involved.
I was an active member of a club too, one I didn’t choose but I’m so glad it found me. SANDS Queensland provided for me a place to spend time in familiar surroundings amongst those who understood. I wasn’t the only one feeling angry when I looked at pregnant women in the shopping centre, or mothers complaining about their child’s need to be picked up all the time. The friends I made in SANDS, the special times I shared, the stories we all shared, the many coffees we drank, and the joy shared together when positives came from our past negatives were all great benefits from being a member of this club. I valued the other members. Some knew more than me, others not as much. People had been there before or had a longer connection with “the Club”. I got very involved and volunteered my time for events, along with representing SANDS Australia that was successful in obtaining a National contact number for grieving parents and families.
Membership always involves commitment and motivation to be active.
Do you think you use your membership to the fullest?
Membership to the 'Parents of a child with a disability' club is free and support is there when you are ready to ask. Of course, some members might come and go or take a lot longer to join. Who is the one missing out if you join late? Where are you as a parent if it takes you a few years eventhough you suspected some issues presenting ? What effect do you think that has on your child - the one with the diagnosis, the mystery syndrome, the one avoiding detailed tasks and fine motor activities. Early intervention is proven to make a huge difference on a child, so you need to join that club pretty quickly so you can find out about the good deals, the free events and the supporting people of the club to ensure early intervention is successful. Understandably, for some families there are the ongoing, numerous medical appointments that their life must fit around now. This child though, will be expected to go into an educational program at the right age so they need that support beforehand to assist them in developing pre-requisites for school.
So when you feel ready to join 'the club', you can explore this website for guidance and direction, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ask more questions. Did you know that we also have an active Facebook page to keep up to date?
Kerri Weaver is a passionate and caring service provider. She loves sharing her knowledge and skills to supporting those with vision impairment and additional disabilities. Kerri has worked in the field of disability for over 30 years. Her experience includes working in Tonga with a specialist team on multiple occasions.
In growth, through play, and when reading, we learn...
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