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Fall 2001 Volume 6, No. 4


What a busy, fun fall we have had here in TSBVI Outreach. Two events that were especially energizing for me were the "Power of Touch" workshop and a training by Dr. Jan van Dijk on child-guided strategies for assessing children who are deafblind. In September, six families and their children with deafblindness came to TSBVI for a different kind of workshop. The intent of the training was to teach the families about the critical role that touch plays for the child with deafblindness. This relates to both the type of touch the child receives from those around him and the way he uses touch primarily through his hands as eyes, ears, a voice and as tools. Gigi Newton from Texas Deafblind Outreach taught parents how to use massage with children and the benefits of a regular massage routine. Barbara Miles, co-author with Marianne Riggio of the book Remarkable Conversations, presented information on why developing the use of hands is so important. She also taught specific strategies for improving interactions with the child through touch. Both presenters used videotapes the families made prior to the workshop, and individual consultations with the families during the workshop, to personalize the information related to each child. Gigi and Barbara also had parents practice skills with their children immediately after they had been discussed and demonstrated.

This workshop occurred just days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Perhaps it took on special meaning for all of us who were involved, because we were all reminded of how precious life is, especially our children's lives. These children have much to tell us and to teach us if we can learn to be receptive to them, to slow our pace and to just focus together without hurrying through the small things in this world.

Equally powerful was the presentation by Dr. van Dijk, in collaboration with members of the TSBVI staff and the parents of a young girl who is deafblind. Over a two-day period they conducted an arena assessment that a larger group of observers was able to watch from another location, through the miracle of video conferencing. Dr. van Dijk utilized an assessment process described in a new CD-ROM product he developed with Catherine Nelson from the University of Utah, titled "Child-Guided Strategies for Assessing Children who are Deafblind or have Multiple Disabilities." In the next issue of SEE/HEAR, Dr. van Dijk will write about this assessment. In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the CD-rom, send a $50 check or money order to: Dr. Jan van Dijk, c/o Joe Franken, 4619 Spyglass Drive, Dallas, Texas 75287. "Pay to the order of" Joe Franken. After his time in Austin, Dr. van Dijk traveled to Lubbock and presented at the Distinguished Lecturer Series sponsored by The Sowell Center of Texas Tech University. We learn so much each time we have the privilege to hear Dr. van Dijk speak and watch the way he interacts with children. We're always grateful for the time he is willing to give us that takes him so far away from home.

Finally, I must mention a family that I have known for quite a number of years and an honor they received in the beginning of the summer. Lee Ann Bryan and her family, who live in Amarillo, were the recipients of the 2001 Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) Family Involvement Award. All of us who are lucky enough to know the Bryans agree that this family is most deserving of this honor. We are very proud of you Jackie, Everett and Lee Ann! The Bryans will be featured in a future issue of Hearing Loss, the magazine published by SHHH.

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Last Revision: July 30, 2002