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Spring 2019

FAMILY WISDOM

  • The Visual World in the Eyes of a Blind Child

    • Abstract: A woman who is blind describes how her family helped her to learn about the world around her.
    • Audio: The Visual World in the Eyes of a Blind Child
  • Making the switch to StarPlus: Here’s our experience!

    • Abstract: A parent describes her positive experience switching from a Medicaid waiver program to StarPlus as her son reached age 21.
    • Audio: Making the switch to StarPlus
  • The Continuum of Decision Making Supports  and Protections for a Young Adult

    • Abstract: In 2015, the Texas 84th Legislature passed two bills establishing supported decision making (House Bill 39 and Senate Bill 1881). This legislation allows families who have an adult with a disability a continuum of decision-making supports that extends beyond guardianship. The author, a parent of a young man preparing for transition, shares four main factors families and self-advocates should consider when developing an individual support plan.
    • Audio: The Continuum of Decision Making
  • Texas Chargers: Our family’s journey finding a community of support

    • Abstract: The author shares her family’s experience finding resources and connections through the Texas Chargers family organization.
    • Audio: Texas Chargers
  • Futures Planning Led Us to Touch Base: Center for the DeafBlind

    • Abstract: The author shares her family’s experience in establishing a non-profit organization to provide adult services specifically geared for people with Ness.
    • Audio: Futures Planning Led Us to Touch Base
  • The Possibilities are Endless

    • Abstract: A parent shares how her family finds opportunity for the Expanded Core Curriculum in her son’s participation in athletic events.
    • Audio: The Possibilities are Endless
  • Life After Graduation

    • Abstract: A young woman who is a TSBVI graduate describes her experience since graduation.
    • Audio: Life After Graduation
  • The Unexpected

    • Abstract: The author shares her personal journey of understanding the unexpected challenges and gifts of being married while bringing up two children with disabilities.
    • Audio: The Unexpected
  • A Family’s Participation in ECC Activities at Region 13

    • Abstract: Parent, Fran Schafers describes how participation in the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) activities offered at the Region 13 Educational Service Center impacted her family.
    • Audio: A Family's Participation in ECC
  • Behind a Closed Door: Ava’s DeafBlind Ability Statement

    • Abstract: A young author, who is DeafBlind as the result of Usher Syndrome, shares a poem she wrote for a school assignment where she was encouraged to express her abilities in artwork.
    • Audio: Behind a Closed Door
  • Parker’s Poems

    • Abstract: Parker, who will be a second grader school year 2017-2018, is a dual media learner. Parker’s mom shares that he loves technology, karate, and writing funny poems and stories on his Braille Note.
    • Audio: Parker's Poems
  • Letter from the TAPVI President

    • Abstract: The status of the Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairment is described, including ways to get involved with TAPVI.
    • Audio: Letter from the TAPVI President
  • Tips for Home or School: Promoting Wearing of Glasses

    • Abstract: The following Tips for Home or School can be beneficial to both families and educational staff in finding ways to help a child wear his or her eyeglasses.
    • Audio: Tips for Home or School: Promoting Wearing Glasses
  • Tips for Home or School: Questions for Parents of School Age Children in Planning Transitions to New Teachers

    • Abstract: The following Tips for Home or School can support families in preparing for changes in their child’s educational team membership.
    • Audio: Tips for Home or School: Questions for Parents of School Age Children in Planning Transitions to New Teachers

EFFECTIVE PRACTICES

  • A Developmental Sequence for Teaching Tactile Skills

    • Abstract: This article is a follow-up to “The Development of Tactile Skills” published in the last issue of TX SenseAbilities. It describes the importance of following a developmental sequence for teaching the use of tactile skills and provides another way of thinking about the progression of skills needed to be a proficient tactile learner. 
    • Audio: A Developmental Sequence for Teaching Tactile Skills
  • An Administrator’s Guide to  Evidence-Based Practices for Students with DeafBlindness

    • Abstract: This article provides a guide to aid administrators in addressing issues and practices related to students with DeafBlindness. It specifically focuses on IEP development and instruction for students with DeafBlindness.
    • Audio: An Administrator's Guide to Evidence-Based Practices for Students with DeafBlindness 
  • Suggested Resources for New TVIs & COMS:  Adding to and Maintaining Your Instructional Toolbox

    • Abstract: This article begins a new series of newsletter articles describing important resources for VI professionals, especially those who are new to the field of visual impairments. Additional resources will be added in each issue with links for accessing those materials.
    • Audio: Suggested Resources for New TVIs & COMS
  • Let's Talk DeafBlind Eligibility:  Frequently Asked Questions

    • Abstract: This FAQ article answers basic questions about student eligibility as DeafBlind andwhen it is recommended for a student to have a Deafblind label.
    • Audio: Let's Talk DeafBlind Eligibility
  • Paddles Up! Building a Dragon Boat Team at TSBVI

    • Abstract: This article describes the creation of the dragon boat team at TSBVI and the skills that students must learn in order to paddle and race their boat. It also addresses the skills they needed to learn in order to work together successfully as a team.
    • Audio: Paddles Up!
  • Active Learning Approach and the Standard Curriculum

    • Abstract: This article explains how Active Learning, an educational approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen, can be used to provide instruction for students with the most profound disabilities in both the standard curriculum and the expanded core curriculum.
    • Audio: Active Learning Approach and Standard Curriculum
  • I Can't Hear You, It's Too Dark in Here

    • Abstract: Enjoy these creative works by students with blindness, visual impairment, DeafBlindness, and multiple disabilities.
    • Audio: I Can't Hear You, It's Too Dark in Here
  • Where Are All the Babies? Early Identification of Visual Impairment and Combined Vision and Hearing Loss

    • Abstract: The importance of finding and serving infants and toddlers with vision impairment, and tips for sharing information with other professionals
    • Audio: Where Are All the Babies?
  • Understanding Concept Development and Related Challenges for Academic Students with DeafBlindness

    • Abstract: This article is a research-based examination of ways to understand the development of concepts by students with DeafBlindness. It also provides practical suggestions on how to teach and reinforce those concepts for academic students with DeafBlindness.
    • Audio: Understanding Concept Development
  • Ten Important Websites for Educators and Parents of Students with Visual Impairment, Including Those with Additional Disabilities and/or DeafBlindness

    • Abstract: This article adds to the list of suggested resources for TVIs and COMS. It includes information on and links to important websites for VI professionals and parents.
    • Audio: Ten Important Websites

NEWS AND VIEWS

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Heather Joy Magdeleno, Parent, Phoenix, AZ

Abstract: The author shares her personal journey of understanding the unexpected challenges and gifts of being married while bringing up two children with disabilities. We invite you to check out Heather Joy’s other blogs

Key Words: Family Wisdom, deafblind, special needs parenting, marriage, resiliency, attachment parenting

I didn’t expect marriage to look like this. Maybe I was imagining what some of us might imagine before getting married and having children: going on trips together, creating a home together, him doing his own creative projects, me gardening, us supporting each other, loving each other. Him taking care of the bills, me doing the shopping. Maybe we would find an “open-minded” church together, maybe we would build community. Friends would come by for a bonfire in the front yard, we would host neighborhood dinner parties. We would give birth to our beautiful children, at home, in water. I would breastfeed and practice attachment parenting. We wouldn’t need to go to the doctor much because of our conscious eating and living. We would visit family whenever we wanted, in Santa Barbara and Colorado. We would visit beautiful places with our kids and camp and walk on the beach and love each other in the night. We would have the world in the palm of our hands and we would look at each other and be proud. This is the life I imagined, some of the reasons why I thought marriage and kids might be a good idea. Although I didn’t really know. Just this feeling of what it could and should be.

Then we had two babies that required constant care. The nights were broken up, rarely a full night sleep and our regular conversations were suddenly about pumping and breastmilk and poop and lack of it and exhaustion and fear of the future and survival. Our days blended into the nights and we were overwhelmed. We had moments of calm and connection and loving each other, but mostly we were caring for our babies, at times, just keeping them alive. Our marriage began to slip away. Out of fear I became controlling. Everything was out of my control, so I tried to control my husband, my mom, my family. I survived only and lived fearing the future. I started to question, “What is the point of being married anyway?” This became my attitude and I was no longer able to see my ally by my side. Walls were built and we spent more energy keeping them up than if we had softened our hearts. We lived like this for years. Unhappy. Fighting against the very person we needed.

Then one night my heart opened up to him. It was a miracle. I thought we were over. For almost a year we had been living together, lovingly taking care of our children, determined to not let go of this, but we were no longer “together”. Suddenly, on this full moon night, my heart opened and I knew it was the right thing. This man wasn't going anywhere, he was not going to leave my side. He had been with us through thick and thin and I knew I needed him.

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Fran Shafers, parent

Abstract: Parent, Fran Schafers describes how participation in the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) activities offered at the Region 13 Educational Service Center impacted her family.

Key Words: Expanded Core Curriculum, encouragement, Goalball, social network

As you may know, the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is comprised of nine skill areas of instruction that were created specifically for children with blindness or visual impairment. The nine skill areas include: compensatory access, sensory efficiency, assistive technology, orientation and mobility, independent living, social interaction, recreation and leisure, career education and self-determination. Many of us learn these skills by observation. Children with visual impairment have limited opportunities to observe such skills and therefore need specific instruction in order to learn and use them in their everyday lives.

Kylie's participation in the ECC programs offered through the Region 13 Educational Service Center has helped her to develop more confidence in her skill levels and have enhanced her ability to participate with her peers at school. She has used her iPad and BrailleNote for communication with her peers. They have expressed interest in how Kylie uses braille and speech output programs. Kylie has really come leaps and bounds since beginning middle school!

In addition, participation in the activities through Region 13 has helped our family bond together. When we took part in the rowing activity as a family (which we never would have thought of doing, because of Kylie's fear of trying new things) we saw Kylie develop a desire to improve herself by hearing words of encouragement from her peers. To her surprise with multiple attempts she did it!

Through Goalball, she has increased her fitness, and communication skills. When she goes to practice it makes her feel like she's part of a team. It gives her the sense of belonging and that she is not the only blind child, but there are others that can do amazing things! She comes out of it with more motivation and drive to excel because her teammates and her coach teach her to push through to succeed. Because when you get hit, you get back up! They are giving her the tools she'll need to carry her through the obstacles she'll face throughout her life and that to me is invaluable.

To be with other families that have children with same disability gives you a sense of hope, peace and encouragement. It gives us the opportunity to come together and share our experiences for our children to take, and use with them to succeed in their lives.

Knowing that you are not alone, and there are other families that deal with the same challenges, is the greatest gift. Because, when we share our experiences, we hope to encourage other families to do the same.

I just want other families to know that there are resources out there that are within your reach. Our children need to connect and build the social network they need to feel a part of a community.

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Ava Bullis, Student, New Jersey

Abstract: A young author, who is DeafBlind as the result of Usher Syndrome, shares a poem she wrote for a school assignment where she was encouraged to express her abilities in artwork.

Key Words: Family Wisdom, DeafBlind, Usher Syndrome, language arts, disability awareness, self-expression, self-determination

People have many different disabilities.
Do you know their capabilities?
Try and see the friend they can be…
Ask questions. Be kind.
And have an open mind.
Don’t shut the door.
You could be missing out on so much more.
Like all of us, they are a piece in our world.
Like a stitch in a hem.
So be who you are.
And make a new…FRIEND!

A pictur of the author’s name in braille with poem written in the drawing of a cochlear implant.

Image: Title, Behind a Closed Door, and author’s name in braille with poem written in the drawing of a cochlear implant.

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Karen Whitty, president, TAPVI

Abstract: The status of the Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairment is described, including ways to get involved with TAPVI.

Key Words: dynamic, parent, volunteers, impact

It’s hard for me to believe that my term as president of TAVPI is almost over. Being part of such a dynamic team, who strives to connect, support and educate families around Texas impacted by Visual Impairment, has been amazing and I have grown so much from the experience. What excites me even more is to see new leadership come along so that others can let their gifts and skills help grow TAPVI.

Since I became a board member, in 2015, our organization has grown tremendously. Our membership is comprised of families and professionals all around the state of Texas. We have started support groups in Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth and soon we will be starting a support group in Houston. TAPVI has many goals to positively impact families around the state but to do this we need our members to get involved. TAPVI is a nonprofit organization that is run solely by volunteers which means we need help

TAPVI board elections are held annually from May 1 - May 20 and we are always looking for leaders to help with serving on our board. Our board is comprised of parents who have a child or family member with a visual impairment and our advisors are comprised of professionals and community members. 

Aside from board elections, we also need volunteers who fit the descriptions that follow and would like to chair a committee or work within one of these committees.

  • Parenting a child with visual impairments
  • Leadership skills
  • Desire to connect to other parents
  • Passion to help families
  • Enjoy meeting new people
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Grant writing
  • Non-profit skills
  • Legal skills
  • Marketing skills
  • Fundraising skills
  • Event planning skills
  • Any non-profit board experience

If you are interested or have questions, please email us at .

TAPVI looks forward to continued support of families throughout Texas. Remember, together we are better and together we will help alleviate the isolation that can be brought about by visual impairment. On behalf of the TAPVI Board of Directors thank you for being a part of TAPVI

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Idaho Project for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness

Abstract: The following Tips for Home or School can support families in preparing for changes in their child’s educational team membership. We are grateful for the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project’s permission to reprint and encourage you to check out their other Tips for Home or School. All tips sheets are available in English and Spanish

Key Words: Family Wisdom, DeafBlind, transition, new teachers and team members, school collaboration

  1. Does the teacher have information about my child's medication needs?
  2. Does the staff know how to recognize what is, and what is not, a medical emergency for my son or daughter?
  3. Does the school have a medical release and insurance information on file?
  4. Is all the staff familiar with support staff terminology (e.g. abduction, supine, etc) that is used when discussing my child?
  5. Is the school staff familiar with my child's particular positioning requirements with regards to the purpose of particular positions, equipment, proper use of and precautions, amount of time in certain positions and equipment, and what kind of activities my child can be participating in during those times?
  6. Is the staff familiar with how my child communicates through his/her body language? Have they created a body language dictionary for staff members and other children?
  7. Is the staff aware of the signs and communication systems that my child uses at home? Are they the same signs and systems used at school?
  8. Has the staff conducted any form of person centered planning (e.g. MAPS) for my child? Is that information included in my child's file?
  9. How will the general education teacher receive information about my child?
  10. Has the general education teacher observed my child in his or her current classroom?
  11. Is the general education teacher familiar with my child's IEP goals and objectives?
  12. Has the general education teacher been included in transition meetings?
  13. Does the special education staff have a copy of the general education classroom schedule?
  14. Has an instructional schedule matrix been developed that demonstrates where my child has an opportunity to practice his or her goals and objectives?
  15. Do we, as a family, have priority goals and objectives? (e.g. communication) Have we discussed our priorities with the school staff?
  16. Have classroom participation plans been developed for my son or daughter? (e.g. adaptations, modifications, etc.)
  17. How does the staff know that my child is meeting his or her goals and objectives?
  18. How, when and why do they make changes in my child's program?
  19. How often does the staff communicate with me? How do they do it? (e.g. daily notebook, telephone, team meeting)
  20. Does my child's team meet on a regular basis? (Note: Regular is a relative term and may mean once a week for some students and quarterly for other students.)
  21. Does the team keep meeting minutes?
  22. Does the team always leave with an action plan?
  23. Are we always included in the team meetings?
  24. Has the team developed a portfolio of information that describes my son or daughter's program (e.g. video tapes, signs used at home and school, classroom participation plan examples, meeting minutes, etc.) that can be given to new teachers and staff?

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Jill Grattan and Alycia Burton

Abstract: The following Tips for Home or School can be beneficial to both families and educational staff in finding ways to help a child wear his or her eyeglasses. We are grateful for the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project’s permission to reprint and encourage you to check out their other Tips for Home or School. All tips sheets are available in English and Spanish.

Key Words: Family Wisdom, DeafBlind, vision, eyeglasses, programming

Finding out your child needs glasses can be an unsettling experience, but it may also bring good news. Corrective lens can make a helpful difference both in your child’s education and in your child’s day-to-day life. They may allow your child to have an easier time seeing your face, seeing schedules (e.g., object or pictures schedules), working on a tablet or computer, completing homework, and reading or looking at a book. Glasses can help your child see and recognize important people, make it easier for your child to find and play with toys, and recognize objects and places. Glasses may cut down on eye strain and headaches. Glasses do not have to be a traumatic experience for you and your child.

Helpful terms from the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus:

  • Ophthalmologist – a medical doctor (a minimum of 8 years of medical training) who specializes in vision and eye care who can diagnose and treat all diseases of the eyes. An ophthalmologist can practice medicine and surgery in addition to prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses.
  • Optometrist – a healthcare professional (not a medical doctor) who provides vision care, such as eye exams, vision tests and prescribing glasses and contacts. Optometrists can detect certain eye abnormalities and prescribe a limited number of medications for some eye diseases.
  • Optician – a technician who designs, verifies, and fits eyeglass lenses and frames, and contacts. Opticians do not test vision, write prescriptions, diagnose, or treat eye diseases.

Tips to make a trip to the eye doctor easier:

  • Before going to an optometrist or ophthalmologist, call ahead and ask if the ophthalmologist or optometrist has experience working with children with special needs. If the staff does not have experience working with a child with special needs, consider trying to find an office that does.
  • Ask if they have experience fitting frames to the face of a child with unique facial features (for example, microtia, a condition in which a child has only one ear; many genetic conditions are signified by facial features of slightly different proportions).
  • Ask if you and your child can visit the office before the appointment so your child can become familiar with the office and the equipment.
  • Ask if the staff will allow extra time for your child to process the information
  • Ask what times are the quietest or least busy and make an appointment accordingly
  • Ask the eye doctor if there is a charge to re-fit your child’s glasses if the glasses get bent
  • For more ideas and information, see our Tip sheet: Questions for Your Eye Doctor

When you and your child go to get the new glasses, there are two important things to verify before you start encouraging your child to wear his or her glasses.

  • The frames must fit your child’s head correctly. It is important to work with your child and his or her doctor to pick out frames that are appropriate and comfortable.
    1. Make sure the frames do not pinch your child’s nose or ears. This may require several trips to the eye doctor to fine tune; make sure to take the time and plan for multiple trips to ensure the glasses are comfortable. There are many different ways for glasses to stay on your child’s face – frames curling behind ears are only one option – ask about the options available and determine what is most comfortable for your child.
    2. When trying on glasses, have your child play – glasses fit differently when lying on your back, than when sitting in a chair, or looking down to examine something on the ground. Make sure the glasses are comfortable and positioned correctly for your child in all of the positions he/she may play and work in.
    3. Remember, even with modifications (like a sports band to hold the glasses in place), to have your child play in a variety of positions; the modification may work great when sitting, but may fail to hold the glasses in the proper place when your child is looking down.
    4. If you are having trouble getting the eye doctors to understand how the frames are not working for your child, take pictures of the situations in which the frames are uncomfortable. (More on this below.)
    5. If your child’s glasses get bent, simply make an appointment with the eye doctor to get the glasses re-fitted to your child’s face.
  • The lenses must match your child’s prescription and that prescription must be accurate and current. If your child is having a hard time wearing the glasses or if his vision is not improved with the glasses, have the prescription checked.
    1. Remember, your child’s vision may change throughout time. For example, a prescription may work one year, however, your child’s vision may change, so the prescription may not work the following year.
    2. To have your child’s prescription checked, make sure to take the glasses with you to the eye exam.
    3. It is important to ask if your child should only wear the glasses during certain activities or throughout the day.

Remember, your child needs time to adjust to the prescription. Your child’s vision with glasses is different from what had previously been his normal vision – this change in vision might make your child feel disoriented, dizzy, or uncomfortable until he gets used to the prescription. It might take time for your child to realize that he sees more clearly with glasses.

Ideas on how to help your child tolerate wearing glasses

  • If possible, have your child help pick out the glasses. If your child helps to choose the glasses, she may like the glasses much better and be more inclined to wear them.
  • Consider purchasing a really cheap pair of glasses or sunglasses (e.g., dollar store, supermarket) and practice wearing the glasses. Practice taking the glasses on and off and let the child experience what wearing glasses will feel like. If the glasses you buy for practice actually correct vision, then remember to take the lenses out so that the child does not get blurry vision from the practice glasses. Make it fun to wear the practice glasses!
  • Initially, have your child wear her glasses during an activity she enjoys where the lenses will make the most difference (reading books, watching a movie, playing with toys, doing an art project). This allows your child to see the glasses really do make a difference. Make sure this activity is an interactive one between you and your child and that your child enjoys the activity.
  • Build time into your child’s daily routine for wearing glasses. Initially, this time may be very short (2-5 minutes). As your child demonstrates tolerance (does not complain, fight to prevent you from putting the glasses on her face, throw the glasses), gradually increase either the number of times per day the child wears the glasses OR the length of time the child wears glasses.
  • Very slowly build up the length of time your child is required to wear glasses.
  • Gradually, increase the number of activities in which your child is required to wear glasses.
  • A timer may help your child tolerate wearing glasses – when the time is up, the glasses come off. Again, initially set the timer for short periods of time. For some children a visual timer may be helpful.
  • Provide lots of praise for your child whenever she wears her glasses, keeps them on for the designated period of time, does not complain when you put them on her, puts on her glasses independently, etc.
  • Initially, small rewards may be helpful (stickers, tokens, special toys that are only for wearing glasses). Deliver the reinforcer if your child keeps her glasses on for the designated amount of time.

Just as important as learning how to wear glasses, is learning to take glasses off in an appropriate manner. Teach your child to always hand his glasses to an adult when he takes them off. Praise your child for giving his glasses to an adult, even if he takes them off before the designated time for example, you might say, “Thank you for giving me your glasses. It is not time to take them off yet” and put the glasses back on your child.

Specialty frames companies make glasses to customer specifications – for example, these companies advertise they make glasses for children with special needs and unique facial features (e.g., different facial proportions, children with one or no ears, children who wear hearing aids of all types). These companies are not endorsed by NDSIP – this is a list simply for your convenience:

References

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. (2011). Difference between and ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician. Retrieved on February 23, 2017 from https://www.aapos.org/terms/conditions/132

Anthony, T. (1996, September). Guidelines to parents on introducing glasses to young children. See/Hear Newsletter, Summer 1999. Retrieved November 12, 2002 from www.tsbvi.edu/outreach/summer99/parents-glasses.htm

Fassler-Nelson, E. (March 27, 2015). Help! My special needs child has to get glasses. Retrieved on February 23, 2017 from http://community.fireflyfriends.com/blog/article/help-my-special-needs-child-has-to-get-glasses

Weber, S. (2015). Kids need glasses; won’t tolerate anything on face. Retrieved on February 23, 2017 from https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2015/05/29/autism-challenge-kid-needs-glasses-wont-tolerate-anything-face

Images retrieved from Google Images on February 27, 2017 or March 8, 2017

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Parker E., student, Round Rock Independent School District

Abstract: Parker, who will be a second grader school year 2017-2018, is a dual media learner. Parker’s mom shares that he loves technology, karate, and writing funny poems and stories on his Braille Note.

Key Words: Family Wisdom, blind, visually impaired, language arts, disability awareness, self-expression

Introduction by Belinda Fayard, Certified Itinerant Teacher of the Visually Impaired: 

Parker is very creative and the first poem, Marker, really touched me because he writes with 20/20 pens. I thought so many of our low vision kiddos can appreciate his description of a marker.

Marker

A marker has 1,000,000,000 pens in it
scribble scribble
It is like a computer printing
scribble scribble
When you touch it, it is printing on you
scribble scribble.

This poem is called Things that are craycray, which is slang for crazy. It's just cute and funny.

Things that are craycray

Tickling your sister,
eating paper,
hitting the car window with a water bottle,
throwing your jump-house in the air,
going on a slide backwards,
dancing in the rain,
jumping off the stairs.

This poem is called My Color Poem. Parker’s creativity and vivid imagination are evident in this beautiful piece.

My Color Poem

Orange is bored of sitting in the car.
Yellow is me on my red scooter.
Green is me on the grassy field
and brown is sad and sick.
Purple is me under a disco ball.
Blue is me on a sailboat at sunset.
Black is anger and loneliness
and red is excitement

Today I am feeling purple.

This last submission is written from the perspective of a developing chick inside the egg. His class had eggs in an incubator and learned all about the stages of growth.

From inside the egg

Wow, what is this place? Where am I?
I am hot. Boom boom boom boom! Am I asleep or is it so dark?
What is the yellow stuff about? Can I get out? Or is this my home and is someone sitting on me?
I need a friend! I see my blood vessels! I need to get out or a friend and night light.
Am I sitting in space? Well I can't move, so not. Just do something.

Photo of Parker kneeling in a field of bluebonnets and indian paintbrush

Photo of Parker kneeling in a field of bluebonnets and indian paintbrush

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Tammy Martin, Blind Children’s Program Manager

Abstract: Ms. Martin provides highlights of a group skills training at the Meadows Museum

Key Words: Blind Children’s Program, blind, visually impaired, Meadows Museum, Group Skills Training

Group Skills Trainings from HHS’s Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program work with parents and community partners to help clients and families learn new skills and work with children who are blind or visually impaired. These trainings expose clients to new activities and help them develop new skills. The trainings are open to family members and help clients build a network of peer support. 

On Feb. 25, the Discovery and Development Program, along with SMU’s Meadows Museum, Delta Gamma sorority and SMU music therapy students hosted an event at the museum with art, movement and music activities, which increase fine motor skills and encourage social skill development. The Meadows Museum provided raised line and tactile representations of art pieces, making them accessible to those with no or low vision. 

Photo of a child in a wheelchair wearing glasses looking into a shallow bowl

Photo of a child in a wheelchair wearing glasses looking into a shallow bowl

"The sensory day at Meadows Museum was a huge hit for both of my sons. Visually impaired or not, every child enjoyed each activity throughout the morning,” said Laura Leavell, whose child is in the program. In one activity, The Feel of Things inspired by Joan Miró's oil painting "Queen Louise of Prussia," children used paint and primary colors to create works of art by painting on raised line shapes. They used a variety of papers and materials to create their own unique texture collage.

Photo of a child with albinism painting while a young woman looks on

Photo of a child with albinism painting while a young woman looks on

In other activities, children created geometric and organic forms using air-dry clay and tools to produce their very own sculpture modeled after those located in and around the museum. Families toured the museum's sculpture garden, where they were permitted to touch the sculptures that were described by docents. 

The Sound of Things was an activity led by SMU music therapy students during which children were exposed to rhythm and music through facilitated, therapeutic music experiences. Families were encouraged to interact and participate in the exploration of various musical instruments. 

Photo of a small child standing with assistance from a woman, touching the strings of a guitar held by a young man

Photo of a small child standing with assistance from a woman, touching the strings of a guitar held by a young man

Thanks to our partnership with the SMU Meadows Museum volunteers and students, the Blind Children's Vocational Discovery and Development Program was able to provide access to an inclusive event that promoted independence and community involvement though the multisensory exploration of art. 

If you are interested in attending a group skills training, please contact your Blind Children's Specialist about upcoming trainings in your area.

Photo of a girl rolling out play clay with a rolling pin, with the assistance of a young woman

Photo of a girl rolling out play clay with a rolling pin, with the assistance of a young woman

TX SenseAbilities - Summer 2017

By Cyral Miller, Director, TSBVI Outreach Programs

Abstract: TSBVI collaborates with many partner agencies and organizations to support quality education for students with visual impairment and DeafBlindness

Key Words: education, STEM, collaboration

The blindness field in Texas has a long history of cooperative activities. It has resulted in higher quality and greater availability of services for children and youth with visual impairments. Not many states can boast the rich variety of activities that are jointly sponsored by the Education Service Centers, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC), Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and many related community groups. Family groups foster networking for families who might otherwise be isolated from peer support. Looking over the past year, there have been an astounding number of examples of professionals, families and agencies working together. Formal stakeholder groups like the Personnel Preparation Advisory Group and the Texas Action Committee for the Education of Students with Visual Impairments, the State Leadership Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the DB Interagency Task Force all help to unite practitioners, university staff, family members, adults who are blind and/or DeafBlind and related agencies. A new group this year is developing a DeafBlind State Plan to guide the establishment of best practice for that unique population. Working together has been a sure road to progress. 

One of the ways TSBVI strives to improve is by looking outside this state and learning from and with others. Joint sponsorship of Paths to Literacy by TSBVI with Perkins School for the Blind has led to a dynamic international literacy resource. The Activelearningspace.org website is a newer collaboration with the Penrickton School and Perkins School for the Blind, and another example of combining with others to advance the field.

Two training events this past spring highlight the benefits of this approach:

In March, the TSBVI Deafblind Project sponsored the Texas Symposium on Deafblindness. Speakers at this conference included many Texans, and others who came from Norway, Scotland, Pennsylvania, San Francisco and Ohio. The National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) set their annual summit at TSBVI for the following week so DB project staff from across the United States were able to join Texas participants. As a result, the conference buzzed with ideas that spanned continents as we worked together expanding our understanding on how to provide family support, quality educational services and life-long learning opportunities for students with DeafBlindness.

In April, TSBVI hosted the 4th Biennial Principals of Schools for the Blind (POSB) Math & Science Institute for Instruction on our campus. This is a national group designed to build community among teachers of students with visual impairments interested in fostering math and science learning. Often, teachers don’t have easy access to other teachers for guidance and support in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topical areas. While POSB is part of the Council of Schools for the Blind, the audience included both specialized school staff and local district VI professionals. The POSB Institute included networking and learning from Texas colleagues and those from New Mexico, Maryland, Missouri, Iowa, the American Printing House for the Blind in Kentucky, as well as many vendors.

We will continue to learn and grow by working with partners.  Next year will bring more opportunities to share and improve our services, for the benefit of the students we all hope to provide a path to meaningful, successful lives.