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Winter 2005 Table of Contents
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The Three Amigos

By Alaine Hinds, Jennifer Vincent and Annette Oseguera,
Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (TAPVI) Members, Houston Area

Reprinted with permission from TAPVI Times newsletter, Summer 2004

Abstract: Three parents share their thoughts on their friendship, the bond between their children, and supporting each other through their personal journeys of having children who are visually impaired.

Keywords: family, blind, deafblind, friendship, support

Editor's Note: the following article appeared in the first newsletter produced by TAPVI. Alaine Hinds, TAPVI Co-Chair, shared in her introduction that she turned to her best friends, known to many as The Three Amigos, to help her write an article about their friendship and the bond between their children. While her intention was to combine all of their thoughts to make a story, her friends' thoughts were as unique and individual as the three of them.

To learn more about TAPVI, please visit their website at <www.tapvi.org>. To become a member, leave a telephone message stating that you would like a brochure. Their toll-free telephone number is 1-866-99TAPVI (1-866-998-2784). Please note that TAPVI has recently experienced difficulties with their telephone and mailing address so if you have tried to contact them in the past six months and not received a response, please contact them again. Written correspondence can be sent to 12801 Midway Rd., Suite 212, PO Box 231, Dallas, TX 75244. You may also communicate with them via email at info@tapvi.org.

The Unspoken Words of Friendship by Jennifer Vincent

My daughter, Alexandra has two incredible friends, Rebecca and Annette. The girls and moms have bonded over the past three years of their life because of their disabilities. Their "disabilities" have provided a great opportunity and "ability" to form friendships at such a young stage of their lives. The girls attend numerous events together including birthday parties, conferences, and social activities. The three girls share a love for music and attend music class once a week. Rebecca and Alexandra share the same classroom at school while our dear friend, Annette, receives services at home. The girls enjoy story-time at the public library, Mardi Gras for special people in Galveston, and the Strawberry Festival in Pasadena. I think our girls have a better social life than most adults do, and how blessed they are for that. We call them "the three amigos." All three girls would be considered nonverbal at this point but they know, recognize and love each other.

I would like to encourage all families with children who may have a disability to promote socialization as early as possible. All children need friendship and, more importantly, deserve friendship. Friendship is natural, but with our children it helps if we provide them with the opportunity to form the friendship. We all want our children to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, but please remember, we don't want them to grow up lonely. As a parent and as an adult, I survive life by my friendships. Friends get us through tough times and help us enjoy the best of times.

Making Friends by Annette Oseguera

In 2002, several months after my little Annette had been trached, she was doing good health wise. I figured it was time to go out and meet other parents and make connections. The first parent group I went to was in Pasadena. It was at this meeting that I met Alaine Hinds and her daughter, Rebecca. Yes, I remember hearing that distinctive voice across the room. Alaine was talking about the problems she was having with ECI. I tuned into that. I was in the same boat as she was. Before the meeting, I had bought a new 2003 calendar appointment book, which I was using to write down notes from everything I heard. After the meeting, I went outside and started talking to Alaine. I asked her about the resources and services Rebecca received. She said, "Here, let me give you my number." She proceeded to write her phone number in my spanking new appointment book. Not only that, but she wrote it in pen, thus sealing our friendship, making it permanent.

It was at ECI's Christmas party that I saw Alaine again. We talked for a while and she told me about her friend, Jennifer Vincent. She thought I should really meet her. Well, it was days, maybe even weeks before I called Alaine again. We were going to meet at Hope's Mardi Gras Ball in Galveston. Jennifer would be there. By the time I found Alaine, my son Amadeus and little Annette were ready to go. I briefly talked with Jennifer, but I did meet beautiful Alexandra and her siblings Destiny and Bryant.

Little did I know that chance meeting with Alaine and that brief encounter with Jennifer would blossom into strong allies and friends in the special needs roller coaster ride, which I find myself on. Now, I have someone who knows how I feel, can listen without making judgments, shows no pity only empathy at my daughter's situation, and is genuinely happy at the little accomplishments my children achieve. I can unload and reload with both of my friends. The most wonderful facet of our alliance is the friendship our children have made with each other. When all of our children get together Alexandra, Amadeus, Annette, Bryant, Destiny, Luke, Rebecca and Sarah always have someone to play with. They share the same characteristics among each other as Jennifer, Alaine and myself. Annette, Alexandra and Rebecca's friendship mirrors our own. They know when the other is around and have come to know each other very well. Annette knows Alexandra the "hair puller" and Rebecca "the kicker." Her eyes will pop open when she hears their yells or laughs and she will frantically turn her head trying to find them. Because of their joyful clamor, Annette has begun voicing. Because of their movement, Annette has begun moving also. First her eyes, then her head, and now her body. Annette has become more attentive and observant from being around such a big group. Like her mama, my little angel knows when her friends are around. You can just feel the warmth and know that you are not alone.

Silver and Gold by Alaine Hinds

When I first learned that my daughter was multiply-disabled, I grieved for all that she would not have. Friendship was one of the things that I feared was out of her reach. I was wrong. My three-year-old daughter has several friends; two are her best friends. Alexandra and Annette are special not only because they share in their disabilities, but also because they truly enjoy each other's company. My daughter has spent much time in music classes, play groups, and Lighthouse activities with these two girls. In fact, when you see one of them, you usually see the other two close behind. The bond between my daughter, Rebecca, and her friends is evident to all who see them. Most people now refer to them as the "three amigos."

My daughter has taught me a lot about friendship. She is the reason I have met my best friends. She has also shown me that friends don't have to talk to communicate. They don't have to walk to spend time together. They don't really have to do anything to be aware of the other person's companionship. Friendship is not really all that complicated. Rebecca, Alexandra and Annette have formed a truly unique bond over the last couple of years. They are blessed to have each other and they seem to know it.

I have become very close to the mothers of these wonderful girls. We have become best friends, also. We depend on each other for support, companionship, and…well, I depend on them for everything. There is not anything I would not do for these two moms, and I feel confident the feeling is mutual. The girl's siblings have also connected and attend events like "Sibshop" together. We celebrate birthdays and milestones together as families. All of this because our girls share disabilities.

There is a Girl Scout song that I learned when I was young that talks about friendship as silver and gold. My daughter and myself have found our silver and gold.

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