Friday, January 28, 2011

Molly needs a cane too.

Abby loves American Girl dolls. She currently has 5. Now mind you I said currently and she does have a birthday in a few weeks.

When I realized Abby was going to be getting a cane I started a search for an American Girl white cane. I couldn't find any at all.  Not directly from American Girl or on the secondary market. I got conflicting reports that American Girl used to have a cane many years. I really wanted Abby to have one.   I realized that it wouln't be that hard to make one.  So I made two.

 Doesn't she look happy?  Abby loves them. It was great to make for something special  for Abby.  It only cost a few dollars for each one. To make your own  you only have to do the following:

  • Wooden dowel of appropriate size. I was able to buy a pack of six for only .98
  • black and red electrical tape
  • white craft paint 
  • a paint brush
  • cord of black fabric (i actually got mine from a gift bag)

It only took me a few minutes after the paint dried to apply the tape. I just taped the cord to the stick and wrapping it down to what seemed to be the appropriate length and then applied two rows of red tape at the bottom.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Cane

Abby had her first Orientation and Mobility session today.   She now has a cane to use. I even had a chance to try out a cane and sighted guide techniques.    It was great for both of us.

It was hard earlier in the day to imagine her with a cane.   Sometimes its easy to 'forget' that Abby has a serious vision impairment. Now she has a loud flashy sign with her. A sign that shows the rest of the word she is just a little different.

The cane is much much more then that though.

The cane is a sign of  independence, a sign of safety and a sign that Abby will recover some of her lost self confidence.
The Cane... Its a good thing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Proud Mommy Moment.

Abby brought home one of her finished school assignments.  She used the Brailler to write at least half of it.  I am so proud.  Abby was excited that she was able to bring it home just like the other kids.

I cut a little bit off on the right.  I am just so proud. I love how its not perfect just like if she wrote it with her hand.

Talking Books

Abby is so excited. She got her Talking Book player from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped  (NLS) She is able to get 1000s of book in audio format for no cost at all. The player is even provided .  She gets the books ether sent to her by the mail from our state library or we can download many of them.

Abby got the newest type of machine. The digital advanced player. It plays digital cartridges and also plays books downloaded from the NLS's BARD website.  We are also able to download books from RFB&D which offers books and textbooks in audio format.

NLS digital player is perfect for a child with a visual impairment. It has big colorful buttons, (with braille labels) The cartridges are easy to change.  The speaker that is on it sounds great. . (we also attached earphones)   You can run the machine without having to see at all.  Amazing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventures in Braille: A good day

Abby has been STRUGGLING with reading Braille.  She knows most of her letters but when it comes time to feel them she has been struggling a lot. She is having a hard time telling one letter from the next and when its come to feeling the letters her letter recognition was much lower then when she writes them with the Brailler.  It was making her become very unexcited about Braille. I had gotten some braille flash cards with just the letters on them and I first started having her practice with them.. Better It was less stressful but she seemed to loose interest quickly. She still seemed to struggle. A member from an online group of  parents of blind/visually impaired children gave me this amazing idea.

She recommend making a large tackle version of a braille cell with a 6 muffin baking pan and 6 tennis balls.

Now you can take away and add balls to represent different letters. Not only is it really easy for Abby to feel she can see it so she gets the reinforcement two different ways.

So with the flashcards we made up a game.  I would hand her a card.  If she could recognized the letter and recreate it in the pan she would get 3 points. If she didn't know the letter but could recreate it in the pan she would get a point. If she could recognize the letter once I fixed it for her in the pan she would get a point.  Abby is very completive. She breezed through all the card and did better then she ever has.  She had a smile on her face during the whole time. She now has a score to 'beat'.
(picture of Abby playing the game)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Educating Abby: "Who's Who"

Abby has many specialist and educators that assist in her education.

Classroom teacher:  The teacher leads the lessons for the whole class. 

1 on 1 aide:  Abby has her own aide to help modify the lessons and give her braille tutoring. Abby has her right now for 3 hours in the morning.

Teacher for the Visually Impaired TVI: This is a specialized teacher who is in charge of teaching Abby Braille.  Modify the lessons to make them more adaptive to her. She see this teacher 3 to 5 hours a week.  She also gives instruction and lessons to Abby's aide.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist: This educated and trained professional will be teaching Abby to safety move around school, home & community. This will include white cane instruction and helping us properly guide Abby when she needs it.

Speech & Language Pathologists:  This specialist helps children at the school with speech and lauguage issues.  Abby has some minor issues with her speech but want to take care of it to make sure she has no issues with expressing herself.

Special Education Teacher/ Case manager:   She watches over  different kids in different classroom and helps them.  She is directly helping Abby with her writing which has gotten harder to read in the last few months.  She is also in charge in coordinating all her different services.

Here is a great article I found on another website:

Friday, January 14, 2011

The new normal.

I have come here and started writing different posts many times over the past two weeks.  There is never a day I forgot about Abby's visual impairment.  I sometimes forget for little bits at time. When getting the kids ready for school Abby many times has lost a required item like a hat or a glove.  Its gets very frustrating  and my volume raises and I usually find my self pointing out to her. "ITS RIGHT THERE."  She will look at me confused and will say "Where? "  Then I usually feel really bad about even asking her.  

One of the biggest challenges is getting Abby to be more organized.  She has always been an unorganized child.  Its just part of who she is.  She needs to learn to put things in a proper places that easy to remember its location.  

There is no book you can buy to give you all the answers.  Believe me I have looked.  Keep looking for titles like "Your 6 old Daughter has lost her sight, Now What"   "Dealing with your child's visual loss" "Handbook to vision loss"   sigh... They don't even have books about blindness at all in the bookstore. 

Abby is doing great at times but she still  meets me after school with a sad face.  My beautiful social butterfly is heartbroken that  the drama of friendships at age 6 has gotten much more complicated.    She has some great friends but they really don't understand that Abby can't play tag or hide-and-go-seek. 

I know Abby is going to figure it out. I know she is going to do well its just breaks my heart the simple little things she has lost.