Eyes and Independence
On the net, we read and watch so many stories about the ‘success of a blind child’ in an English school, the achievement of a young teenager with low vision finding a job in the United States. Where are all the Australian stories? Even when we are looking for information about vision impairment, syndromes, good braille resources – we all tend to initially look at websites based in the US or other countries outside of Australia. Their resources with some purchased and freighted to Australia but it can be very expensive. There are some great websites with resources in Australia too. In fact, on this website I have put up recommended links to other Australian sites including our own professional association (South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment), information about NDIS, Raising Children’s Network which holds lots more information about vision impairment and additional disability considerations.
Very recently, we have learnt about a parent in Australia who had finally achieved success for her twin girls to learn braille in school despite past differing opinions. Parents like Raquelle continue to ‘fight the fight’ so her girls can have equitable access to learning through alternate formats being made available.
Sadly, some of the Australian States have moved towards a more “generic” approach, expecting teachers in-house to know how to manage ‘all kids’, no matter what their disability. Some regions of Queensland have reduced the number of specialist Advisory Visiting Teachers visiting students and employing those less experienced, and on a ‘temporary basis’. This doesn’t give continuity to a child’s support for learning. Where are those children going to be in a couple of years down the track? Still trying to get some consistency in their learning, from a teacher who is less knowledgeable of specialised needs such as braille or specific technology to achieve academically and prepare them for the future. Who will assess the child’s reading needs in braille? Will they know what is required?
As NDIS rolls out, it will be up to family members and those with a disability to do the research to source the providers to meet the person’s goals. Like the twin girls, achieving reading in an alternate format or travelling down the road independently can be achieved with the right people to support you.
The JPEG within this blog has colored boxes with words describing activities with a photo of Kerri having a milkshake and a garden of flowers. Text written with visual description provided
'Have you spent Sunday…'
With the one you love, Sleeping, Watching movies, Gardening, FaceBooking, Sewing, Doing art/craft, Excelling in your sport, With time to yourself, Intensely studying, Writing job applications, Baking cakes, Visiting, Shopping, Shampooing the dog, Mowing the lawns, Grooming the cat, Teaching someone to ride a bike, walking, Crying, Laughing, Dining, Phoning home, Missing someone, Spending quality time with your child/ren, Playing a board game, Painting, Enjoying your own time, Being spoilt. This is not a complete list…Kerri Weaver’s BLOG June 17
I would like to still think that Sunday can be considered ‘a day of rest’. Perhaps, you went to Church this morning or last night, yesterday morning – depending on what religion you follow. Is Sunday still a day when family get together, do something special together? Or has it become a day to just unwind in whatever the preferred environment can be.
What did you do Sunday? What do you do regularly on a Sunday?
When something goes wrong with our car, we want HELP immediately. We may call for assistance, book it into the mechanics as soon as possible because you want it REPAIRED and back on the road as soon as you can.
Our tooth cracks on a hard biscuit, and we call the dentist or if suddenly the pain in our mouth is so severe, we may even decide to turn up at the hospital in the Emergency Department.
You want ACTION. You want ASSISTANCE. You want to get somewhere to ACHIEVE something. What will happen if you don’t act on it? Will anything get done? Perhaps, nobody will even know about it happening and life will go on, but maybe with one less car on the road or one less person in the workplace.
As a professional person who has worked in hospitals, institutions, residential housing for disability, nursing homes, education departments, private organisations, non-profit organisations – it’s really important to “ask for help” in order to gain answers, information, build relationships, be taken seriously, remind them about you.
Many big and small organisations now and in the near future will be waiting for those CALLS, know they must RESPOND to a request, know they have to act on what they have been alerted to. Those calls, REQUESTS and REFERRALS all require acknowledgement of needs and responding to those needs. If the need is not met soon enough, in a time that satisfies the customer, you may choose to go elsewhere and you are ENTITLED to do that. It is your CHOICE.
Consider what you or your child’s needs are
Consider possibilities of funding that could be sourced and JUST APPLY! (the sooner, the better)
Consider a reasonable amount of time to wait and see someone
Consider how long it’s been since they last visited
Consider what else you have been waiting for and get in touch with those who can provide
Consider whether the 8 National Standards for Disability Services are being followed by your provider/s:
As a specialist teacher, I have always felt privileged to visit a child in their own home, predominantly when the child is very young and under school age. I think the youngest child I ever saw on an initial visit was only 3 months old and already she had gone through several medical procedures, including heart surgery – all relating to a syndrome she had been diagnosed with the early months.
The little one’s Mum and Dad were very keen to find out what else they could be doing to support their little girl. Both parents were professional people and were continuing to manage their careers as well in between medical appointments and visits from specialists that the family had already begun building in their new support networks.
As a visitor to the home, I am not there to judge the parents for the home they live in, or the food they eat or the way they dress their child. I am there to build a rapport, gain trust, observe the child, make recommendations, informally assess if necessary, answer questions and support the family in the process. I strive to ‘empower’ parents and family, and teach them the importance of advocating for their child’s needs. I might demonstrate how to do something if the need is there and share discussion about concerns, achievements and program plans. I am also there to listen and develop trust amongst the family. Visiting the child in the home is always different to seeing them in other environments such as child care or school or out at the local park. We are all different in our own homes. In order to gather a more complete picture, several environments are valuable.
On meeting a parent on the first home visit, I give them the respect that is deserved. I understand at any moment that if circumstances change and the visit needs to be cut short or re-scheduled, that’s okay. I understand there can be times when the night didn’t go so well, and the entire household is suffering as a result. No-one wants to open the door to a visitor and have someone “all enthused, motivated, positive, delivering ‘the message’ of the effects of a child with a disability when the challenge for the family is surviving the next hour and getting tasks done.
Your home is a special place, a safe place, a personal place. If I can provide support to your child or grandchild in the home where you feel comfortable, the child can feel comfortable too, and will gain immensely from the home visit. Learning opportunities will be added to the stack of many more to come.
Kerri Weaver is a passionate and caring service provider. She loves sharing her knowledge and skills to supporting those with vision impairment and additional disabilities. Kerri has worked in the field of disability for over 30 years. Her experience includes working in Tonga with a specialist team on multiple occasions.
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In growth, through play, and when reading, we learn...
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