We are delighted to announce the introduction of three new hosted message boards on FamilyConnect. The topics are the Parents of Infants and Toddlers board moderated by Kay Ferrell, Education moderated by Susan Spungin, and Orientation & Mobility moderated by Marjie Wood.
Today we have a blog written by Marjie about how she first become involved in O&M.
I love teaching Orientation and Mobility! It’s a phenomenal profession because it impacts the person with a visual impairment in so many wonderful ways, from the baby who isn’t yet moving to the adult with a recent vision loss.
Having the skills to interact with one’s environment is so significant and vital to life! That’s the beginning of what O&M offers. When people ask how I found this profession, I tell them that I had a friend in college who was in the program, which entailed taking a cane and blindfold to class each day to learn specific skills and concepts.
That was intriguing. Who knew there was such a profession? I only followed up on it as a result of my dad telling me that he was losing his vision. I figured that I’d take a course or two to help him. That’s when I was formally introduced to Orientation and Mobility (O&M for short).
About a year ago I was telling people about 2 dime store turtles my brother and I had when we were young. When my parents bought them, they were about the size of a half dollar. I was 9 or 10 at the time. I had a desire to teach both of them how to climb out of their little plastic dish with the painted palm tree and crawl over to our swimming pool (we lived in Florida and pools are very common!) about 12 feet away. I don’t remember how long it took, but I do remember how thrilling it was to see them swim in the BIG POND on their own!
I was so pleased that they became “independent travelers,” outgrowing their container and eventually living in our pool. Once they each grew to about the size of a small dinner plate, we gave them the ultimate freedom of living in a nearby lake. So, my desire to help others gain control of one’s environment through increase independence made becoming an O&M Specialist/Instructor/Teacher the only profession I’d ever do and want to do.
Through teaching O&M, I’ve gained another passion which is working or interacting with students’ families, especially parents. I view the parents as the ultimate key to the child’s growth and development and as the team leader. I am so grateful to have been asked to be a part of this extremely important endeavor that AFB and NAPVI offer to parents and families. I welcome any and all questions on FamilyConnect’s new orientation and mobility message board, and look forward to time together to help your child gain a greater independence and interaction with the world in which we live.