These are a selection of stories written by staff members at the Lighthouse of Collier about our Early Intervention / Baby population.
This story highlights one of the 5 year old’s in our Children’s Program who we will refer to as “Justin”. Justin has been with Lighthouse of Collier for about 4 years. In that time, he has made many gains in areas such as orientation and mobility, social skills, and sensory/cognitive development.
His current goal is learning Braille. Unfortunately, Justin does not find Braille very fun! He would struggle to sit through lessons and focus. So I had to think outside the box to keep Justin engaged and begin learning his Braille. I remembered that Justin’s new favorite thing is Pokémon and decided to create a Braille Pokémon Battle game with homemade large Braille flashcards and homemade “Pokémon cards”, and even brought in some Pokémon plushies to make it even more exciting! The rules made it so that Justin had to find the first letter of each attack, in Braille, in order to battle. He absolutely loved it, and began to even get excited to find the letters! He now anxiously awaits instruction each week.
Anastasia is a very energetic and lively three-year-old living with macular dystrophy. She was referred to us about two years ago. Since referral, Anastasia and her family have had frequent home visits from a Lighthouse Instructor focusing on crucial areas such as fine and gross motor skills, and visual efficiency skills. Additionally, the parents have continued to be provided with important resources, and information about Anastasia’s vision and how best to support her in the home.
Recently, her parents made the leap of faith in deciding to send her to a local day care center so she can continue to grow and learn, and meet other kids her age. Anastasia was very excited to start going to “school”.
Soon after, her parents reached out to Lighthouse of Collier to let us know that she was having some growing pains and so the instructor began providing visits to Anastasia at the daycare.
During visits, this instructor noticed that Anastasia was primarily getting frustrated during transition times, such as when the class would go from the classroom to the playground, indicating some light sensitivity, and that she was having trouble locating things in the classroom. So this instructor spent time creating bold large print labels for the different toy cubbies, a large print name tag for Anastasia, and discussing possible accommodations with Anastasia’s classroom teacher for future activities. Also, it was recommended to the family that Anastasia be sent with a hat to the daycare to see if this may help with the dark/light adaptation.
There has been such a change seen in Anastasia since then! She is able to locate everything she needs in her classroom, and she no longer has bouts of frustration when going outside – she has even been line leader when heading to the playground a few times.
Her parents are so thrilled and endlessly grateful for the support they have from Lighthouse of Collier.
Aaron is a four year old boy living in Immokalee who has a progressive eye condition that has resulted in congenital cataracts in both eyes. Upon our first meeting, it was clear that he would be a Braille reader in the future so we spent much time over the past year working on Pre-Braille skills, including tactual discrimination. He made a lot of progress over that time.
Now he is beginning to work on the Braille alphabet which has proven to be a challenge. We have had a hard time finding ways to make the Braille alphabet fun and engaging for Aaron so he wants to focus and work on it.
Lighthouse of Collier recently collaborated with ABG World to make an outreach video about the Children’s Programs to use for the Collier County Public Schools Expo, and future outreach. Instructor reached out to the family of two-year old Lauren, and her mother was ecstatic to participate and talk about the Lighthouse! Lauren’s mother took Lauren to go shopping for a new outfit and Lauren picked out a “special outfit” to wear for her “superstar moment”. Lauren’s mother shared that Lauren was absolutely excited to see her teacher and be a “movie star”. When walking through the hallway, she beamed when she saw a card with a picture of herself when she was 1 year old, from the “Meet the Kids” day. She immediately said “it’s baby me!” She got nervous at first when she arrived and saw the cameras and new faces, but quickly warmed up after hugging her instructor.
Lauren’s mother said many wonderful things about the support she’s received from the Lighthouse. After her mother’s interview, Lauren’s sister and father came in because her sister was so excited to see “Lauren’s teacher”. After this, the family gathered in front of the camera and sang Lauren’s favorite song “The wheels on the bus”!
Ashley is a 1-year-old only child with macular dystrophy with amblyopia. Home visits with Ashley are a family affair. She is a busy and active toddler, eager to interact with people, objects, and opportunities for meaningful play in the home. On the first Lighthouse staff visit, her parents intuitively set up a route for Ashley to travel through where she could crawl and feel things of different sizes and textures, such as tile and carpet.
After some time had passed since an in-person home visit, during a virtual visit it was incredible to witness that Ashley is walking, learning from educational TV programs, turning pages in her books, and loves swimming and shopping with her parents. Surely, visits to come will highlight new surprises and developments!
Purchase Seeing Beyond Blindness
If you would like to own one of these cocktail table books, please donate a suggested selling price of $35.00 to Lighthouse of Collier and we will send you one straight away.
Lighthouse of Collier dedicated the book to Art Bookbinder, a man who could see beyond blindness. He was a great friend and leader. May he rest in peace. August 1942 – April 2020.