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Spring 2004 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Section Editor’s Introduction: Continuing in the series of family-focused articles on the expanded core curriculum, this issue addresses literacy. I asked George Toone and Jonathon Taylor to share their thoughts on what compensatory skills they found to be useful in accessing the world of literacy. Both have chosen to share with you what braille has meant to them. I’ve also asked Melanie Knapp, who wrote about her person-centered planning experience in the last issue, to share a story about reading an experience book with her son to illustrate how literacy is important to everyone, including individuals with multiple disabilities, such as deafblindness. Other articles in this section are included because they address timely topics for the season. It’s that time again to plan summer experiences for our children. Be sure to check out the updated camp directory on our website at www.tsbvi.edu/Education/camps.htm . While you’re there, search the See/Hear archives for articles about camp and summer activities. Lastly, as we experience the beauty of spring, I hope each of you take a moment to reflect on the wonder of our children and the gifts they bring us.

Spring’s Blossoms Renew Special Bond with my Meredith

By Sarah Barnes, Parent, Austin, TX

Abstract: A mother reflects on her daughter growing up.

Key Words: blind, family, personal story

Editor’s note: Sarah Barnes writes occasionally for the Austin American-Statesman about the joys and challenges of raising a child with special needs. She has graciously allowed us to reprint another one of her articles, originally published on May 4, 2003. Although I have not met Sarah or her family in person, I feel that I know them as I have followed their lives in print. (See/Hear, Fall 2001, Fall 2002) I am grateful that Sarah has shared their journey and believe you will sense the connection, also. This article may not be reprinted in other publications or websites without consent from Sarah Barnes. You may contact her at adifferentroad@aol.com

The jasmine is getting ready to bloom in my front yard and the Carolina wrens have come back to nest in a nook above our front door. I love the feel of spring, a time of nature’s gentle reawakening before the fire-breathing beast of summer makes its appearance.

It’s a season when fresh spring dresses make my two daughters look catalog-perfect before the rips, stains and growing tummies force me to pull out the give-away box again.

But in recent years, spring has also been a reminder for me that as the seasons surely come and go like clockwork, life is not nearly so certain.

When my daughter Meredith was a newborn, I took her out into our yard to see the blooming jasmine. I told her that each year it would magically come back for her birthday on May 2. She slept through this first mother-daughter-nature bonding moment, but I didn’t mind.

The next year I carried her out to the twist of green vines and white flowers and picked one of the blooms, holding it to her nose. She smiled a bit and she seemed to know it was something special. By then…I knew she was, too.

Between those first springs of my daughter’s life, she was diagnosed with physical and cognitive delays as a result of an

Underdeveloped brain. We got the diagnosis on the phone on an unusually cold winter evening in early December.

Each December I still shed mental tears over that moment when I aged 50 years in five minutes. I didn’t know what to expect then, but Meredith would not walk for several more years or utter a word till she was 4.

I could dwell on her delayed development, but with the arrival of spring, I merely have to take Meredith outside to see her metamorphosis.

“Watch this, Mama!” has become her newest phrase and she repeats it over and over again as she walks all over our yard. It seems this year she has found new endurance and strength in her legs. It still gives me goose bumps to see my little girl moving and talking at the same time.

I love how she and her 2-year-old sister Caroline can find an afternoon’s worth of entertainment in the piles of fallen oak leaves and the “surprise” flowers that pop up after a spring rain.

Perhaps spring is a metaphorical break for me. It’s lovely proof that the harshness of a winter memory does melt with the arrival of April.

If Meredith were a baby bird, she’d be leaving the nest about now. Thankfully we humans get to stick around for more instruction. Things aren’t as simple as being able to survive the elements and reproduce. We have the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers and have a conversation about them. Sometimes I think that Meredith’s understanding of these subtleties is far more important than a perfect gait or complete sentences.

On Friday, for the sixth year, the two of us went into the yard to remember another birthday. So happy birthday, Meredith. The jasmine is blooming again and so are you.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010