Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fight Night ~ The Battle with Braille

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Ring! Tonight we will see the anticipated match-up of Hefty verses Braille.  This highly anticipated fight is brought to you after years of training, and lots of education, sweat and tears.  The opponents are in their corners and reading to come out swinging; so get ready for an exciting battle.

Bong!  Round 1:  
I heard it first at the Parents of Visually Impaired Pre-Schoolers conference, "Start Braille early."  It will be a challenge, but we need Braille in our arsenal of weapons as our child is at risk of losing her vision.  
Jab, jab...

No problem.  We have a great system and are already learning tactile discrimination in our home visits from the Vision Specialist.

Thwack...
Easy peasy.  
Floored.

Better get some water...I'm already sweating.

Bong!   Round 2:  
Oh, yeah.  We are rocking you, Braille!  I'm even using sidewalk chalk to make Braille cells in our driveway and having our daughter jump to different letters to show-off her awesome memorization of the Braille code! 
Jab, upper-cut...

Another new TVI this year?  Hmmm...it's tough to learn when the teacher isn't the same each year...

Wait!  It's October now and our daughter hasn't had any Braille services yet this school year?
Ooof!  Stars burst in front of my eyes.  I shake the cobwebs from my head.
It's okay.  It's okay.  Just got a phone call and the district finally found a teacher.  Her services will start soon again and we'll be caught up.

Saved by the bell.

I need to towel off...the sweat is running into my eyes and I can hardly see straight.  That punch landed right where it hurt!

Bong!  Round 3:  

So, 90 minutes of Braille instruction a week...and it's hard to spread them out because the teachers are pulled to so many schools and over-worked and hard to find, so we're doing ALL 90 minutes at once. How many 6 year olds can stay focused for 90 minutes on BRAILLE?  
Ouch!  It feels like my nose just exploded.  How did I not see that coming?
BUT at least we're getting services, right?  I should be happy about that.  Grateful.

End of the school year...saved by the bell again.

I stumble to my corner and sit wearily on my stool.  This Braille is a tough opponent.  I need to build my strategy better.

Bong!  Round 4:
Yeah...that's right.  I'm coming for you Braille.  I'm taking a class on-line so I can learn all about you and THEN we'll see who will knock out WHOM!  
Got my own slate and stylus.  Look at me!  I know my stuff!  I'm at the head of the class.  Now I can help my daughter with her homework and we will be FINE!

Jab, cross, upper-cut.
Boom.  Floored ya, Braille.  
How you like momma now?

I strut over to my corner; don't even need to sit down, I'm on FIRE!!!

Bong!  Round 5:  
There's my girl...she's getting 30 minutes A DAY of Braille.  She still can't read it with her fingers very well, but she's learning the code like a champ!  We're Brailling her class Valentines and she's loving it.  

Speed Bag...look at us now!

Jab, jab....Jib-Jab!
Hmmm...you're surprisingly strong, my opponent...and we're caught in a CLINCH.  
The ref calls it, and we hear the bell.

Bong!  Round 6:
New state, new rules.  They "suggest" a school for our daughter that has more students who are learning Braille.  I say, "No.  She's already made friends here, she's already bonded to her teachers.  We just moved her half way across the country.  No way.  That's not inclusion." 
Okay then...30 minutes of Braille a week.  Wait, a WEEK?  Well, ummmm...okay....I guess we'll just work harder at home.

Jab.
Would that type of instruction be acceptable for learning to read print?
Bam!
Would that amount of time be okay regarding any other GENERAL education requirement?
Thwack, wam!
Now we've moved it to 60 minutes every OTHER week?  
SLAM!!!!
"She's behind.  She's not learning it.  She's not practicing."  
I'm dizzy.  I'm stumbling.  I can't form the words that I need to express how I'm feeling.

Saved (?) by the bell....

I crawl to my corner.  I'm on the floor with my arm draped on the ropes.  My coach is pouring water into my mouth and it runs down my chin and bleeds onto my top.  
I should have fought harder.  I should not have caved so quickly three years ago.  But now it's been three years, and the pattern has been established.  NOW, she's having to do so much to stay on top of her other classwork that I don't blame her for not wanting to work on this.  Why WOULD she prioritize learning something for a teacher she only sees two times a month at most?
I should have trained harder.  I know how to advocate.  But, when I'm fighting SO many battles for things like medicaid and good doctors, then some of the battles get written off as "the least of my concerns for now."  
A parent responds to my call for help from an on-line support group, "Of course they moved her to 30 minutes a week because no one can learn anything in that time, and eventually you'll stop trying, and THEY can stop teaching it."  

Another parent says their child had 60 minutes a day at my daughter's age...another says 90 minutes a day.  A DAY!

"Don't give up on Braille...you can't use technology when the power goes out."
Yes, yes...all so true.  And all adding to the cacophony in my brain.
How many times did I get hit?  Can I stand up again?  I really just want to close my eyes and go to sleep.

Bong!  Round 7 is about to begin...and I'm spent.

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