An Interview with Chris
Hi, my name’s Christopher Nusbaum, and I live in Maryland. My favorite subject is music. My hobbies—some of my hobbies—are playing Wii and Playstation, singing—I sing in a choir, I play the piano—I’m taking piano lessons, and reading. Something fun about myself is I’ve gone to the Braille Challenge from Braille Institute three years in a row as a national finalist.
What has made a difference for you in becoming more independent in school and at home?
Well, there are two main things. One is people expecting independence from me. For example, my mom, my dad, and my TVI, because you don’t get that communication a lot with blind people and sighted people. A lot of times in the sighted world, sighted people think that blind people are dependent, and they have to do everything for us just because we can’t see, when in fact, with a little bit of adjusting, we can be independent. And I’m really fortunate that people in my life have been expecting independence from me, so I know how to be independent so that I’m ready for when I grow up and get a job and that good stuff.
What have been your favorite orientation and mobility lessons and why? And what have these new skills taught you?
Well, the favorite mobility lessons, it’s a tie between going to the mall and going through my neighborhood. The mall because it gave me a lot of confidence in big places and crowded places that I don’t know. For example, one day before we went to the mall, I said to my O&M instructor, “It’s probably gonna be really crowded at the mall.” And I was a little nervous that day. And he said, “There’s no sense being nervous. We’ll just learn how to be in crowded places and go independently in crowded places.”
And guess what? I did.
So it gave me that chance to think outside the box and try new things. I also liked knowing what stores were there, and where they were so when I went to the mall with mom and dad, I had an idea of where we were going and what those stores were.
And the neighborhood because when I go and play with my friends, either I go to my friend’s house or we go to our neighborhood park to play, I don’t always want to be asking people to help me go to someplace. I wanna get there just like my sighted friends and be independent so that I can be just a regular part of the crowd.
What activities do you participate in during physical education?
Everything everybody else does in the class. We might adapt a little if it’s really hard for a blind person to understand or it’s really visual, but basically, we just follow the units that the class does. We follow the PE curriculum, and we just go along with the rest of the sighted class, and that’s about it. We might make some adaptations, as I say, but we, we do it—we just go and do it.
What modifications are made for you specifically?
Well, I have a beeper ball for sports like football and soccer where I have to follow the ball or catch it or something like that. I have a basket that hooks to a door bell, so when I try to shoot the basketball in, it will go “ding dong,” and I know how far the basket is from where I’m throwing, so I know how hard to through it and where I’m supposed to aim. I also use a guide rope with a baton for running. I just run down to the end of the rope, and I have an adaptive phys ed teacher, and last year, I approached the PE teachers about doing goalball because a lot of people ask me “What sports to blind people play?” That would be a great way to show them how a blind person plays a sport, and it’s basically kind of like basketball that sighted people play but a little different. We had a great time with it last year, and I’m really excited about doing it again this year.
What sports or recreation do you do in your free time?
Well, I swim in the summer. Right now I’m learning to ski, that’s pretty cool. I ride a tandem bike. I play regular kickball at recess with the rest of the class. And this is also cool. In April, I’m starting in a baseball league in my county for kids with special needs, but we’re going to play t-ball and beep-baseball. And I’m really excited about getting to play an extracurricular sport with my friends like sighted people do. And I’m really excited about doing beep-baseball outside of Camp Abilities.
And besides that, I play t-ball with my dad sometimes in the summer.
Do you want to add some information about Camp Abilities and how you experienced that this past summer?
Last summer, I went to a sports camp in Maryland called Camp Abilities. It’s actually all over the country, and it’s a really great camp. I’ve been talking about this whole interview—thinking outside the box, trying new things—well I got to try things at Camp Abilities that I never tried before. For example, canoeing, we canoed on the Potomac River. We went swimming; we did a swim race—I came in 3rd place. And I mentioned before, beep-baseball, we did that. We did goalball. So it’s, it’s a really great camp, it gives me the feeling of going to a regular camp. You know, I go to these educational camps, and I know that’s important, but can’t it be taught in a fun way? And that’s what Camp Abilities was. So if you have a Camp Abilities in your area, I really recommend going to it because it’s going to be a really good time, and you’re probably gonna learn a lot too.