From Wheelchair to Walking


By: Cara Martinez

At a young age, Annie was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. ONH is the under-development or absence of the optic nerve combined with possible brain and endocrine abnormalities. Annie joined the Foundation for Blind Children’s Early Intervention program shortly after her diagnosis and later graduated to FBC’s preschool in Chandler.

Annie faced challenges with mobility and walking due to her visual impairment, which prevented her from learning incidental information. Incidental information is knowledge gained by observing others. Not only was Annie not visually motivated to walk, but it was scary since she could not see her surroundings.

Fortunately, Annie’s care team at FBC was ready to help conquer her fear. First, Annie learned how to slide in and out of an adaptive wheelchair. Next, she learned how to trail from drop-off to her classroom with handheld assistance.

Annie’s handheld assistance of choice is a yellow plastic shopping cart, a playful tool that would eventually help Annie learn to walk. The shopping cart would protect Annie from obstacles. Plus, pushing the toy gives her stability.

The dedication of Annie’s care team has allowed her to grow in other areas. She now communicates with a switch during snack time and lunch. She also calmly follows classroom routines, participates in circle time, and even explores reading braille. The best part? Annie’s infectious giggles light up FBC’s entire Chandler campus.

With so many accomplishments under Annie’s belt, she’s ready to take on new goals like learning to ask for more, moving to different areas of the classroom, holding her white cane, and walking on uneven surfaces. Because of you, Annie will accomplish these goals and more. Thank you.