my daughter is blind. Sometimes I mention it and sometimes I don't. We are involved in the great big pre-school hunt. Wow, it's crazy, interesting and a challenge. Of course, this is not just about Zelda - it's about finding a school that will be appropriate for Creed as well. In all of Zelda's teacher meetings in the past 6 months, they have adamantly expressed their desire to have her main-streamed - as do we. She'll just be the 'blind kid' in the class - I guess for the rest of her life. As other kids learn to read print, she'll be learning braille. As kids learn shapes and colors through visual recognition, she'll learn them through touch and conceptual relationships. As the other kids intuitively follow the teacher's lead by imitation, Zelda will be doing it through hearing and her own heightened intuition.
We want a small school, one with a good teacher-student ratio, one with a structured curriculum so that there will be transitional cues between activities. We've looked at schools for kids with 'special needs', PPCD's (public preschools for children with disabilities, Waldorf, 'faith' based, international and just good ole' daycare. We have decided that Montessori is the way to go. So now, we are on waiting lists, visiting and interviewing. We usually tour the school first and decide that it could be an option for the twins before I drop the 'blind' bomb. I am then usually greeted with a quiet response of "Oh, we don't have any experience with blind students." I then respond with "Hey, me neither!" and the ice is broken - well, usually.
I am currently engaged in an email exchange with the director of our first choice school. We have visited and the twins really took to the environment. It would be great! So now, I forward the staff articles about "The blind child in the Regular Preschool Classroom" and explain that Zelda will have Scott, her VI who will visit them and help guide how to integrate her into the mostly visual activities. I am the advocate, the dreaded "helicopter" parent, busy convincing the world that they can accept her and not to be afraid. They all have a lot to learn from Zelda - Evan, Creed & I learn stuff from her everyday.
Keep your fingers crossed...