Austin began participating in the Foundation for Blind Children’s early intervention program in 2015. He has little to no vision due to a condition known as optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH), caused by the underdevelopment of the optic nerve.
Austin is an only child and his parents were fearful of taking him out of the house because of his condition. Consequently, he had no interaction with other children. When he turned three, he was eligible to begin attending preschool. His mom attended an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting and agreed with the recommendation that school would be a good thing for Austin. His dad felt differently. Dad was concerned that Austin had some behavioral issues that would make it difficult for him to be in a classroom all day. He was also concerned about a stranger changing Austin’s diapers.
The teachers at the IEP meeting suggested that mom and dad tour FBC and consider letting Austin try it for a month. FBC staff members kept in touch with mom after the meeting, offering encouragement and support. Eventually, both parents agreed to let Austin start preschool. Today, Austin’s teacher is happy to report that he walks into class each day with a big smile on his face. He loves playing with the parachute and listening to songs during circle time and music therapy. Austin is beginning to interact with the other students and is doing a wonderful job exploring tactile/braille books and the braille writer.
The staff at the Foundation for Blind Children know from years of experience that families like Austin’s need support and encouragement. They need to understand how to teach their child the skills that sighted children learn simply by imitating what they see others do. For many of our parents, their blind child is the first blind person they’ve ever met. They have no idea how to set realistic expectations and encourage their child to reach them.
FBC is here for both the student and their families to give each child every opportunity to succeed!