You have many options. Your state’s school for the blind; a local school for children with multiple disabilities; a classroom for children with disabilities in your neighborhood elementary; a regular classroom and a part-time resource room; a regular classroom in your neighborhood school with an itinerant (traveling) teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI); homeschooling. Yes, the list begins to feel overwhelming.
Because which is the ideal school environment for your child? Where will he or she make the greatest strides in academics, blindness-specific skills, and social skills? Where will your child feel most comfortable, get the most out of lessons, have access to necessary special education services, and be well prepared for adulthood?
I wish I could tell you there’s a crystal clear answer. The truth is…
- The best school environment is one that is least restrictive for your son or daughter. This is a fancy way of saying, "the most normal/ typical environment in which your child can excel." [Take for example this mom’s definition of least restrictive for her Matthew.]
- The best school environment is different depending on the current needs of your child. [To learn more about the types of needs each school environment best meets, read What Is the Most Appropriate Placement for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?]
- There is no perfect school placement. Regardless, each school environment can likely be improved upon with you as a strong advocate for your child. As a TVI, I can attest to the fact that we want you to be a strong advocate for your child; a teacher, with the power of a parent backing her up, can best support a student.
- Whether or not you officially homeschool your child who is blind or visually impaired, your child needs to learn and practice skills at home in order to be prepared for adulthood. You are your child’s number one teacher; in other words, the best "school environment" absolutely includes the home environment.
I hope the information in this blog (including the linked articles) makes your decision just a little easier. Before I "sign off", I ask you for a favor on behalf of many anxious parents; please let us know which placement(s) you have chosen for your child who is blind or visually impaired and what helped you make the decision.
With much love,