Tom went to a special night at the Pittsburgh Zoo that was sponsored by the Western PA School for Blind Children. I was surprised that nothing had really been modified for blind children. Tom got to pet a snake but that was pretty much the extent of the interaction until we got to the petting zoo at the very end. My expectations were very high because I know what an amazing job they do at WPSBC to modify experiences at playgroup so blind children can participate in a meaningful way. This event seemed more like an event for the whole family rather than one directed at blind children.
ROPARD (The Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases) hosts a “Sensory Safari” at the Detroit Zoo every year that is completely interactive. They have animal exhibits, bones, animal skins, and even fossils for the children to feel so they can experience and learn about animals in a meaningful way. I think we will make the trip to Detroit to attend the Sensory Safari next year.
|He did not like the feeling of the bridge moving under him.|
Don’t worry. I’m not that attached to this couch. We have been working on getting Thomas to eat by mouth and lots of progress has been made recently. The variety of foods that he can eat is impressive, as is his ability to handle different textures. He has successfully eaten pizza, chicken tenders, waffle fries, cucumber slices and Popsicles. His attention span for food has increased and this has helped him to eat multi-textured foods. He takes the time to really chew and explore food before rejecting it now. I am still shocked every time he actually swallows real food.
I have food available to him constantly. You have to ask him if he wants a snack because he will not request food or a drink. We have always satisfied these needs for him by bottle feeding when he was young and then by tube feeding so he has never really needed to ask. We bought small switches that have ten seconds of recording time. I am hoping to use them for requests like “I’m hungry,” “I”m sleepy,” or “I”m thirsty.” I just need to find a way to stick them up around the house. I will put the food request switch on the refrigerator and the drink request switch near the sink to pair the request with the actual means of satisfying the request. Tom already understands that we get food from the refrigerator (and before that the supermarket) but it just makes sense to pair the two so he maintains these strong associations.
My grandmother is the organist at her church so Thomas was lucky enough to get to try the organ out himself. He thoroughly inspected the instrument and also enjoyed feeling the vibrations by touching the back of the organ as my grandmother played for him.
He has his own keyboard so we though he would be very interested in the sounds and vibration feedback from a real organ. It was difficult for Tom because there was very little space to maneuver around the organ and he felt very closed in. After about 20 minutes of playing and listening he was done and ready to go home. I have to say that he all done sign is one of the most useful sign language signs you can teach!
It is important to remember the attention span children have when you plan little events like this. These outings may not be the resounding success you expected but that does not mean that your child got nothing from the experience. New places and sounds can be overwhelming for any child. I think you can see from Tom’s face in these pictures that he had a good time. It was a good experience for him and the next time we try I think he will like it even better.
It was very cool to hear that my Grandmother knew a blind man when she was growing up that was a very talented musician. She said he had perfect pitch (which is more common in blind people) and lived an independent life. I love to hear stories like that!
|Clapping as Grandma Dee plays.|