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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals

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.