A few weeks ago I attended a low vision conference in Austin at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the conference was all about supporting students with albinism. Attending this conference made me regret not making time for the National Organisation for Albinism and Hypopigmentation conference that is happening in July.
The Low Vision Conference was split up into 5 parts: Panel: Perspectives from Persons with Albinism, Genetics and the Eye, Ages and Stage, Exhibit Fair, and Social and Emotional Aspect of Life with Albinism. I really loved each stage the Genetics and the Eye presentation was fascinating and I will probably write more about it another time. The one thing that really stood out to me was the Ages and Stages presentation. It reinforced everything I believe in regarding play. Due to several conversations with various people over the last few weeks, I had started doubting my decision to keep Nash at his play based school. Had I made a huge error in judgment when turning down his offer to go to a public preschool? After listening to the presenter talk I was 99.9% sure my original decision was correct. One of the ladies giving the presentation said, “Children learn when they are actively involved in what they are doing”. Children don’t learn well with us hammering ideas into their heads whilst sitting at a desk they learn better when they are knee deep in it. Marjie Woods one of the presenters recommended a TED talk by Stuart Brown called “Play is more than just fun.” His thoughts, ideas, and research on play are fascinating I wish more people in education looked at play the way Stuart Brown does.
Another one of the statements made during this section of the conference that I couldn’t quite believe was “learned helplessness can happen at age 3”. I have done no further research on this exact number and am quoting directly from the presenter. Although no expert on this topic I think with young children this means that a parent or caregiver does everything for the child. Therefore the child does not have the opportunity to learn how to do it for themselves. I know how much faster it can be to get my kids clothes on, their shoes on and brush their teeth for them instead of watching them struggle with one item of clothing such as underwear for what feels like an eternity. In the long run though who am I really helping, myself! I realized that although we provide some rich experiences at home we are not providing all of them. As my husband likes to say when teasing me “Always room for improvement.”
Overall, the best part about this confernece was getting to hear people with Albinism talk about their lives and experiences. It was inspiring to see such accomplished people share what motivates them, what challenges them and who loves them. I would have driven across the country just to sit and listen to them talk.