Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Family Day 3

On Monday we celebrated Charli's family day with spaghetti and meatballs, chicken legs, and cupcakes with red, white, and blue sprinkles. (She chose the menu of course.) The fact that she came home to us on July 4th makes the day all the more special. 

Coincidentally, we received some serious new braille gear this week. Miss Charli is the proud owner of a refurbished Mountbatten Brailler. It is quite possibly the coolest brailler I have ever seen. Her old brailler was like a manual typewriter, bulky and hard to press. The Mountbatten is electronic and gives immediate feedback for learning. It speaks each letter as it is brailled. I can even plug in a regular keyboard and braille anything Charli needs. It is going to make going to "regular" school so much easier for both her and her teachers.

Mainstreaming has been our goal for CG all along. She attended our school system's early intervention preschool for three years with fabulous results. This spring Charli was evaluated at our state's school for the blind in hopes of getting information to help her make the transition  to "big school." I walked in with her confident that she was going to wow the evaluator with her large vocabulary, solid phonemic awareness, print knowledge, and the several braille letters could recognize and produce on a brailler.

Well as they say, pride comes before a fall. Just a few questions into the evaluation CG clammed up. It was a long and uncomfortable morning. She managed to braille a, b, c, and whisper a few answers to the evaluator's questions. The more we coaxed, the more she pulled into her shell. This was not my girl at all. The old ghosts of anxiety and fear we have worked so hard to overcome were rearing their ugly heads in this unfamiliar environment. Still, I asked the evaluator to give me his honest opinion. The picture he painted of mainstreaming was far from sunny, warning that CG could fall further behind her peers academically. (Mind you other experts have told us exactly the opposite.) Of course I burst into tears.

Then the evaluator told me, "It's difficult to decide to send your child away." 

He really said that y'all.

Well, I spent the next two days doing what I usually do when I'm angry and upset. I cried A LOT. And I cleaned the house. By the end of those two days I had enormous bags under my eyes, a sparkling house, and a new resolve. Charli already had one set of parents who had sent her away because of her blindness and as long as I was breathing she wasn't going to have another. (Now I may have used some stronger language when I declared this to Chad. Poor guy has to take the brunt of my mama bear rants.)

So our mission this summer is to hit the braille and hit it hard. Just ask my mama, the best way to get me fired up is to make me mad and tell me something can't be done. I found a scripted curriculum called Kester Braille that we are using daily. We are a third of the way through the alphabet and things are looking good. We are sticking to the original plan and she will enter the same outstanding school where her brother attends and dad teaches. She will be the first print/braille reader they have had, and is being welcomed with open arms and plenty of support. I'm confident that with God's help things are going to be fine and our little trailblazer will be amazing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Writing C
Looking for all the L's on the Page
Conner is working too. Poor teachers' kids never get a break.

1 Comments are "sew" fun!:

PletcherFamily said...

That brailler looks AMAZING!!! I will have to check that one out. We have the bulky one and heard the new Perkins braillers put holes in the paper. That one looks cool I love that it talks as well.