My job is a social worker for children who are blind includes coordinating both a summer and winter program for the children with whom we work. Last winter we went to an indoor water park during February vacation with about twenty-five children who are blind and “legally blind”. The children had a wonderful time playing in the water park, on the slides, in the wave runner surfing area, and in the pool, as well as participate in the regular activities that we plan, such as playing bingo and dancing. Getting together is a huge big deal for these children who are mainstreamed into regular classrooms in their neighborhood public schools where they might not ever see another student with a vision impairment. I began this program twenty two years ago when my oldest son, who is legally blind, was six years old.
The winter program was a huge success! Most notably for me, it was the first time my fourteen year old daughter who is profoundly deaf wanted to help out a group of younger girls who are blind. Each girl had their own staff person who amicably allowed Marie to join their group to help with the little girls. Despite the fact that she normally communicates in American Sign Language, she somehow managed to be very sociable and get along well with everyone. Having normally been obsessed with surfing at the wave runner attraction, and being a somewhat selfish young lady, I had expected she would help for a little while, but spend most of her time surfing. However, I was pleasantly amazed that she did not choose her own activity, but spent all of her time in the water park playing with the little girls, helping them on the slides, holding their hands to guide them around the park, showing them where the food was on their plates, and so forth. She was having a grand time, and the girls all seemed to adore her.
On the last night of this program. Marie was seated at a booth with two of the girls and their staff. One of the girls all of a sudden started waving her hands wildly in the air. Prone to seizures, her staff person asked her if she was okay. She said of COURSE she was okay, she was just TALKING to Marie!! The laughter started at their table and soon circled around the room as everyone realized what she had said…she was signing to her, of course!!!!
If you would like to read more about my adventures in child rearing, please read the book ‘The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane”, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and I-Books.