Saturday, July 7, 2012

advice, please?

First of all, Michigan teachers, are you going to the Michigan meetup on the 29th? I will most likely be attending - just need to confirm schedule-type things - and I'd love to see lots of us there! I had such a fabulous time at the first meetup in Lansing, and I know this one will be just as excellent.


Second, I'm looking for some help/advice here. I am going to have a new student next school year who is completely blind (he can see some shadows, apparently, but that's it). I have never had a student with this type of total visual impairment before (I have students now with visual impairments, but their vision is functional with corrections). I am nervous and unsure...this is the one impairment I feel the least qualified to teach. Give me the severe physical impairments, profound Deafness, sensory and behavior disabilities...I am feeling at a loss with this one, though! Since he will be in my classroom, it is safe to say he also has a moderate to severe cognitive impairment. I have not seen his IEP yet though I have a brief description of him and his functioning level (for example, he is working on pre-Braille skills such as sorting by and differentiating textures), so I will feel a little better once that happens, but I will still need some help!

So, any teachers out there who have worked with students with blindness/total visual impairments: I'd love your advice! My classroom right now is set up to be heavy on the visual supports, because that's what my other students need. Obviously this will not work with this student! So:

>>What are some of the essentials for a classroom setup for a student with blindness?
>>What are some things I should definitely do to help ease a transition for a student who cannot see his new classroom/teachers/classmates?
>>What are some other ways to support pre-Braille skills (and I'm hoping some can coincide with our pre-academic/academic focus on alphabet and "sight" words)?
>>Are there any great resources out there you can point me towards (I've done some googling, but the majority of support resources I found are aimed at individuals with blindness and not teachers, or individuals with normal cognitive functioning)?

I don't even know what other questions I should be asking. We have one VI support staff and one O&M (orientation and mobility) person in our building, but they don't work the summer program so I can't tap into their resources until the school year begins and my new friend is already in my class. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give me :)

16 comments:

  1. I have yet to have a student with any known hearing impairments, so I'm of little resource for you. But I'm interested to see what others suggest and to read about what you learn during the school year. Good luck Kara!

    We are ALL Special!

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    1. Thanks, Karlie! I will definitely post about what I learn about students with severe VI this year :)

      Kara

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  2. I do speech therapy and have had a number of students with little or no functional vision. I find that since my students also have other impairments that information for dual sensory impaired students (deafblind) is often useful to adapt. These 2 sites have some useful resources

    http://www.tsbvi.edu/ http://www.perkins.org/

    In setting up your classroom you'll want to give extra attention to traffic patterns and keeping a flow to the classroom that won't give your student obstacles. You may also want to search calendar systems or calendar boxes - it is sort of the blindness equivalent to a picture schedule and you can find information on choosing objects or textures that represent target activities and how to set up and use the system that will allow your student to anticipate routines. Hopefully this gives a starting point for your research.

    Jodi

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    1. Thank you so much, Jodi! I really appreciate it! I will definitely look at those resources, and it sounds like calendar boxes are one thing I'll certainly implement with my student, since we utilize visual schedules all day long in our class. Thanks again!

      Kara

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  3. I wish I could go to the MI meet-up as I am only 30 minutes away, but unfortunately will be teaching summer school then. I am curious to hear what others say about students having visual impairments. Many of my students are coming in with many more unique impairments. Good Luck!

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    1. Bummer that you won't be able to make the meetup - but I'm sure there will be more :)

      Kara

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  4. One of the big things when working with a severe visual imparement is to verbally describe what you are going to do or what they will be touching. I have used calendar boxes in the past and had the best luck using actual objects that go with what we are doing at that point in the day...ie: empty milk carton for breakfast or lunch, pencil for writing time. You didn't say how old your student is but letting them touch letters as you tell them what it is and pair it with the braille for that letter.

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    1. Thank you so much, Bonnie! I'm definitely going to try calendar boxes. Using real objects is a good idea. My student is 12 years old, but until I see his IEP (hopefully next week) I will not know what his academic/cognitive level is.

      Kara

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  5. I have never had a bind student in my room, so I will be thinking about you in the next few weeks. I think the first place I would start would be to use an object schedule with him. It's something that you are already familiar with and I think that it would be the easiest to implement. As far as tasks to give him, I would think that vocational tasks would be the best place to start. No idea what his academic skill level is, but sorting letters/numbers by shape (maybe??) or sorting coins. If he reads braile, I think there might be a font you could download. You could use styrofoam trays to help you create the braile dots. If I come across things in my internet searching, I will forward it your way. Best of Luck!

    Mrs. Flapper

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    1. Thank you so much, Mrs. Flapper! Those are some great ideas. I don't know yet what his academic skill level; hopefully I will be able to see his IEP next week and I will know more. I love the idea of using a styrofoam tray to create the Braille dots.

      Kara

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  6. I worked with a blind student with cognitive issues years ago. At that time, I also worked with an excellent teacher of the visually impaired. We made a schedule and also made PEC cards using counter top samples that you can get at any home improvement store or lumberyard. The come on a little chain, so they already have a hole drilled into the corner. We then attached objects to the samples (e.g ping pong ball with little glue dots on it for his sound ball, a mini cup for a drink, a mini spoon for eating). We used aquarium glue to attach the objects to the samples because it is non toxic if he would mouth the samples. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks so much - that's really helpful! I will have to check into home improvement stores for the counter top samples.

      Kara

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  7. I wish I could help! This will be the first year I have a student with vision impairments so I am still trying to learn more about this as well. Good luck and I will let you know if I find any good ideas. It looks like a lot of these comments are really helpful!

    I know you were just nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by Karlie but I wanted to nominate you as well since I am a new follower and I really enjoy your blog and wanted to get your name out there to my followers as well! I look forward to reading all of your great ideas. It is so wonderful to find a fellow blogger so closely linked to my field!

    Allison
    Miss Allison's Class

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    1. Good luck to you, too, Allison! I will definitely share what I learn as the year goes on.

      Thank you so much for the award! I will have to pass it along soon :) I really appreciate it! I look forward to continuing to read your blog!

      Kara

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  8. I have two students that are completely blind one of the two is deaf/blind. We use calendar boxes for their object schedules. I just try to bring in some type of tactile representation to every lesson. I make my own adapted books. I do have a few that the VI teacher gave me and the perkins panda set. Another thing we are working on with both of them is eating and I have adapted plates and spoons for them. My VI teacher is a big help. The TSBVI website has several resources one of them being a tactile symbol directory. One of the big things is letting them know what is going on around them, what is about to happen (I am going to pick you up or Mr....is here to see you). I have to remind PT and OT of this because it scares them when all of the sudden they are being picked up or moved.

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  9. I am an intervenor for deafblind 1 year student but I also have my developmental service worker diploma (( i work with people with disabilities.) my specialty is children and with multiple needs. i have dones ome work with children with visual impairement.

    the tactile object callender and cues aer awesome ideas you can also use glue or straw, or yarn or really anything that can make it raised to raise outlines of colouring pages

    please let me know what you learn

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