In January 2014 we attended a seminar at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin, Texas. It was called "The Power of Touch". The information I received was extremely helpful and I recommend that anyone wanting to start Active Learning with their child attend this seminar first.
It taught me how to present new toys, equipment, and people to Jayden before starting to work with them. It also taught me how to let him know when I am playing with him.
One of the first lessons was all about observing him while letting him know I am there with him. Observation is an important aspect of Active Learning. You will have to observe your child to determine which activities and items he enjoys. You certainly do not want to make them perform an activity they do not like. Nor do you want to work with an item he does not care for.
Another important point that was made is that they do not have to use a specific item for it's intended use. Allow them time to explore it, hold it, mouth it, whatever, they want to do with it.
The next lesson covered offering the item/toy to them. Let them decide weather to take it or not. If they do not want it, you certainly do not want to force them to take it. This helps them to understand that they have control and can make decisions. This was also the first time Jayden had ever reached out and taken hold of something.
Before Jayden reached for the brush, he started clicking his tongue and I responded letting him know I was there. After he takes the brush, he really begins to "chat" with me.
Our next lesson was about following your child and what they do. For instance when Jayden takes a brush and starts to scratch it's bristles, I would do the same with my hand beside his which lets him know I am there.
And finally we learned to share which is combining all the steps. Once the child takes hold and begins playing (or whatever they are doing), you follow their lead and share the experience with them. Jayden got really excited the first time he realized that I was playing along with him.
In June, I attended another seminar at TSBVI, "2014 Low Incidence Disabilities Active Learning Conference". There I learned all about the "Functional Schemes" Skills Assessment and how to use it to properly assess Jayden's current emotional level. Again, this is important knowledge to have before starting to work Active Learning with your child.
Knowing exactly where your child is emotionally, is important information you will need to determine which activities to use. I had been going through the assessment (which is very long) but had not yet reached the emotional level section. Nor had I "scored" him on any of skills. I went home and worked on that task right away.
Before returning home, I requested that the Outreach Division of TSBVI come out to assist me in setting up an emotional level appropriate activity schedule for Jayden.
This summer has been very busy! In addition to the workshops I attended, we purchased a lot of equipment for Jayden.
First, our family helped us to get funds together for an UPSEE for Jayden. Two of my sisters and one of my nephews gave us some money for the UPSEE. This, I was hoping, would help him and motivate him to walk. I had planned to play kick ball and take him Easter Egg hunting. Walk up steps and maybe even run.
Unfortunately, it took 12 weeks to get the UPSEE delivered and by the time we received it, Jayden had grown too tall for me to use it with him. I asked a neighbor to come over to see if he could help me out, but even as tall as he was, it was a huge strain on his back.
In July, a local motorcycle club, Voyagers MC, held a fund raiser for Jayden. What a wonderful group! Jayden so enjoyed attending the event and everyone was so good to him.
He especially enjoyed hearing the bikes, so they took him out to enjoy hearing one close up. He squealed and laughed, then reached out to feel the bike.
This wonderful group raised almost $3,000.00 for Jayden! With that we were able to purchase some of the Active Learning equipment I was only dreaming of getting. So I must take some time to give a huge thank you to the Voyagers MC. They did a wonderful job and showed us amazing love.
With the money that was raised, I was able to purchase Active Learning equipment, so I went to work researching and planning.