June 4, 2010. What a pleasure to attend the AER workshop in Toronto! It’s always enjoyable to see old faces, catch up with the news and meet any new kids on the block, and with great presenters like Tammy LaBreche, (Dr. of Optometry, UW) and Dr. Gord Hope psychotherapist), we certainly did gain new perspectives!
Tammy LaBreche gave a fascinating presentation on how prism glasses can help clients with strokes and brain injuries to regain some of their vision. Dr. Hope reminded us all just how valuable physical sports and recreation can be in strengthening the self esteem of individuals with visual impairments.
In the afternoon, Lisa Tyrrell (EIS) and Jennifer Ladd (ILS/O&M) shared their expertise in presenting easy and entertaining activities to prepare young children for Braille.
I found Doug McJannet’s presentation on Personal Futures Planning particularly interesting. Having worked many years in Florida with kids coming out of the school system, I have experienced first hand how important it is for educators and families to plan ahead for their blind children. Doug’s well organized presentation included helpful tools for assisting families to think ahead and work out “student focused” maps and a path to long-term goals.
These plans are not always easy. Families and educators often may find that the student’s priorities may surprise them, but these issues need to be confronted before the future arrives. While goals may be attained, there are a lot of special considerations and extra help may be needed. What is especially important is understanding what’s important to the student. Maybe he wants the same goals we do, maybe we can help him get there but it sure takes planning. Then again, maybe these goals aren’t right for him, or maybe they aren’t where he wants to go! This too must be considered. How many times have we all sat in on meetings discussing a young person’s future where well meaning parents and teachers did all the talking!?
I appreciate the respectful approach to planning provided by Doug’s MAPS & PATH presentation. I also appreciated him forwarding his slides and would encourage anyone working with transition kids to ask for a copy.