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Fall 2005 Table of Contents
Versión español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

NAPVI Conference 2005: What an Amazing Experience

By Linda Hulett, Parent, Houston, Texas

Abstract: Linda Hulett, a parent of a 31/2-year old from Houston, describes her experience at the 2005 National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired conference in Louisville, KY.

Key Words:Family, blind, visually impaired, deafblind, parent, NAPVI Conference

What an amazing experience! The world of parent conferences is all so new to me. Our son, Robert, is 10 months old. He was diagnosed with a visual impairment at 3 ½ months of age, and his current diagnosis is congenital visual impairment and infantile nystagmus.

My mother, my son, my daughter, and I went to the National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI) conference in Louisville, Kentucky in August. This was the first time we had attended a national conference. This national conference provides the opportunity for parents from many different areas to meet together in a warm and friendly environment to share and gain information. There were approximately 350 parents and 150 children. Free child care was provided for children with visual impairments as well as their siblings. It was wonderful to see the number of volunteers that were willing to offer their time so that we could attend the conference knowing our children were in good hands.

The conference placed a great emphasis on the difference that we, as parents, can make in the lives of our children with visual impairments. Friday night, Dr. Deborah Hatton spoke about setting high expectations, teaching children to take risks, and emphasizing how critical family support is to our children. Saturday morning, Kevin O'Connor explained how all of the services we provide for children are really about creating independence. He also addressed parents making the difference in children's lives. Sunday morning, we attended a presentation about blind athletes and the possibilities for our children. There were many sessions that were relevant to every age group of children, and even one session focused on fathers and one on grandparents. The sessions I attended were: Getting Ready for School, Getting Ready for Life: The Importance of Including your Child in Key Activities of Daily Living; The Quest for Independence: Parent's Role in Their Child's Mobility; What Parents Need to Know about IDEIA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act); and Social Skills Development for Children and Youth with Visual Impairments. All of the sessions I attended were well presented and very informative.

One of the most amazing parts of the conference was how friendly and polite everyone was. Even though there were so many people who had never met from so many different places, it seemed as though we were friends already because of our common bond of caring for children with visual impairments. I was extremely impressed that everyone including the presenters, the professionals attending the conference, and the parents who did not know me answered my questions in detail and offered suggestions for every concern that I had regarding Robert and his development. I came home feeling like I had been rejuvenated. The ideas and suggestions were wonderful and specifically intended to help us at this point in our journey.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention that there was so much food including a chocolate fountain! You would have to see it to believe it! All at no cost to us.

Thanks to TSBVI Outreach for funding part of our trip so that we were able to be a part of this amazing event. I am so grateful that I was able to attend the conference with the help of their generosity. I am really looking forward to the NAPVI Conference in 2006!!

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010