Self-determination is the ability of a child to advocate for their own needs and desires and make independent choices about their personal preferences and goals in life. It is one of nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum that we emphasize with Lighthouse students. Tyler is a 10-year-old boy whose strength is self-determination. His vision is affected by retinopathy of prematurity and absence of a lens in both eyes, but he does not let his condition deter him. He takes an active role in all of his sessions at the Lighthouse, always contributing ideas, opinions and suggestions for activities. Although the instructor prepares a lesson plan, it always transforms into much more based on Tyler’s input. He has an incredibly inquisitive mind and is the go-to guy to assemble games and figure out how things work. With an innate mind for detail and our strongest advocate regarding our move to a new office space, Tyler was intrigued by a tour of the new Center and offices for Lighthouse of Collier and can’t wait to view the renovations. In the meantime he has scoured the blueprints in great detail and indicated his goal of becoming an architect or designer.
Many tools and accommodations have been made available to assist Tyler with his vision, including magnification, talking books, classroom recommendations, touch typing and lighting. Whether playing Monopoly, cooking or viewing blueprints, Tyler makes choices about what tools work best for him. His persistence, problem solving ability, and self-advocacy will serve him well in life. Working with Tyler is a joy and allows one to see things through his unique, inquisitive perspective; he is every bit a teacher as he is a student.