Choosing Our Own Adventure

Authors: Emily Coleman, Parent and TSBVI Outreach Director

Keywords: choice, risk, opportunity, family, journey, parent

Abstract: Mother and new TSBVI Outreach Director describes her experience of moving to Texas with her family.

Remember the books we read as kids where every chapter led to a choice? Based on your decision, you could either be a hero or face impending doom. When deciding as a family to relocate to Texas from Washington State this summer, it very much felt like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” as we planned for the move and even still as we got set-up in Austin.

You may think I’m being a bit dramatic with the usage of “doom” but when you are raising a child who is blind, and who also has additional disabilities like my son, every decision is weighted differently. We can’t look online to find out which schools have the best test scores…because programs for him aren’t easily measured by those standards. We can’t seek out clubs and extracurriculars that he might enjoy…because his hobbies aren’t that obvious.

Eddie wears hearing protection and carryies a bookbag while using a cane to navigate a hallway full of lockers at school

Eddie in the hallway at school

For some of you unfamiliar with the Austin area, there are multiple independent school districts to choose from. For this step of our adventure, I had to make many phone calls and determine what was available for all of our kids. This aspect had particularly high-stakes because kids can’t easily move to a new school every year. The next chapter of our story quite literally depended on a good judgement call here, and the total avoidance of doom.

When having a child like Eddie, we also had to take into account medical providers, insurance carriers, and access to quality healthcare. Even more crossroads to be evaluated, compared, and decided upon. Each decision met with the intensity of fighting a dragon or running for cover. Recommendations from locals and current practitioners were helpful, but we really just had to find doctors with openings and insurance options available through work. Although we had some choices, real-life ultimately determines some of our chapters for us.

Eddie stands on the porch in front of his home with his arms outstretched, showing off his new shirt.

Eddie on his first day of school.

Most importantly I think, we had to consider what supports we would have in Austin. In Washington, we had numerous family and friends available to help us out. When you have any children, but especially children with special needs, finding support, childcare, and even a hug when needed can be challenging. By walking into a chapter of our story that didn’t have Grandma literally next door, we were taking the biggest risk of all. However, by not taking the risk, we may be missing out on opportunities we didn’t even know existed. As Paulo Coelho famously wrote, and I famously love to quote, “A boat is safe in the harbor. But this is not the purpose of a boat.”

I’d say the first book in our Texas series was a success. We made it here after all! The characters are developed and it’s up to us to finish the plot. Each day brings new decisions and the possibility of more adventures for all of our kids. Yes, there is always the risk of impending doom, but there also is no chance of being a hero without forging ahead into our stories. I look forward to watching my kids finish chapters and decide on their next steps. There is pressure in a decision, but more importantly, opportunity in a choice.

Emily and James, smile and stand in front of the TSBVI main building.

Photo of Emily with husband, James

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