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You can find all of my articles including those on the now-closed Homeschool Mosaics site at Tactile View.org . The adventures of my life in the Dark Silence continues there with a few surprises, too. Follow along! I would love to see there.

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This month on Home and School Mosaics I talk about culture. Most people know that there is a Deaf culture with that capital “D”, but many ask if there is such as thing as DeafBlind culture. I have always said no because there aren’t that many of us, and we seldom meet. A random happening on my Facebook newsfeed got me wondering if that is changing. We all search for our identities. For some, it is easy to find. For others, we go through life not quite fitting in anywhere. For the DeafBlind like me, we seem to be building something new, our own identity. It is a lifestyle based on touch. It is being called Pro-tactile. Come explore with me.


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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I saw a blog post today from a friend that reviewed a book about Helen Keller. Because of my friend’s wonderfully worded description of the pictures I can tell you that the book is a great resource for understanding DeafBlindness. You might just start to “Get it” that DeafBlindness isn’t just adding deaf and blind. It is exponentially multiplied. So, I am going to give a little link love to my friend. Please check it out. There is no way, being DeafBlind, that I could have written a review with the descriptions of the illustrations and intent of this book so well. So, this post is to my friend at Mom’s Musings, http://hexwit.blogspot.com/2013/07/concept-building-and-coolest-book-on.html

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Homeschool Mosaics is my newest writing venture and connects in topic to my posts here at DeafBlind Hope: The Journey. I will be writing there about my journey in the Dark Silence as I teach children and help other DeafBlind people. There are many other readers at Mosaics, all from different aspects of life and homeschooling. Come check it out. We are also having a Facebook Launch Party tonight at 8:00 pm EDT with lots of prizes including those from DeafBlind Hope involving braille and ASL. Definitely show up for that! We have lots of big name sponsors for this events. You don’t want to miss it. Oh, and my column’s name is Homeschool Touches: Living and Schooling Through the Dark Silence.
Ok, here are the links: http://www.homeschoolmosaics.com
and https://www.facebook.com/events/230738350358421/
The Homeschool Mosaics Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolMosaics. Stop by and LIKE us!

I will be there. I hope you will be, too.

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A few months ago I was asked to post my journals from my training times in 2006 at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida and 2007 at Helen Keller National Center for the Deaf-Blind in New York. I did post the training from SEGDI, but then reviews began to come in, so I took a break. Today, I will start again with the second training journal which is for my time at HKNC in New York.

The first two weeks were evaluation time. I didn’t write a post for much of that time. I was without a computer for several days when I first got there and then we had trouble get a good internet connection. They actually moved me from one room to another, so my internet needs would be better met. You see, I was there for many months for training, but due to my responsibilities as Principal and teacher at my school, I would still have to work while I doing my training. HKNC was very helpful to me in that respect.

In addition, I was also a basket case for at least a week. I literally gained 30 lbs from Friday to Sunday as I traveled by plane to New York. My weight among many other things was checked Friday afternoon by a doctor. It was checked again by a doctor at HKNC. I had gained 30 lbs. Frustratingly, despite intense exercise, I never lost that weight. Other than extreme stress, we still don’t know the cause of my strange weight issues, but that is a story for another day.

The trip from Atlanta to New York was also rife with stress as the security people at the Atlanta Airport were threatening to me and my guide dog. By the time, I arrived, all I wanted to do was turn around and go home and hide in my house forever. Then I got the first look at what I was to become. Before this time, I had never met anyone deaf and blind before. I had met few who were deaf or few who were blind, but none who were both. I had been trying to keep myself together and imagine myself being normal when I finally lost all of my sight and hearing. When I arrived, I saw people who were totally deaf and blind and many didn’t seem like functioning adults. Many could not get around a room without falling over something or running into someone. Others would get frustrated with other people because they couldn’t understand them and would scream and push and throw things. I was terrified out of my mind because I thought I would become just like them. I sobbed. In fact, I sobbed heavily for most of the days and all of the nights for about a week. God was with me, and He eventually showed me that I could learn and I could be independent again. It would just take time and effort. This is the beginning of that tale back to independence. I learned a lot of lessons. Come along and you might learn a few, too, as my look back in Time continues:

HKNC Residence Hall

HKNC Training Building
My first week at Helen Keller:
I arrived Sunday afternoon about 3:00 pm. I tried to talk to my husband and couldn’t get a good connection, so homesickness set in pretty quickly after I saw and met some of the residents. There are many residents here. Some with more sight and hearing than me and some who are totally deaf and blind. The deafblind ones have no clue who or what is around them. You have to gently touch them to let them know you are near. You talk to them with sign language, but they place their hands over yours and feel your movements. I have to admit that my previous image of what I am to become was shattered. At first, I wanted to run and hide. I didn’t want to accept that at all. I don’t remember a lot of the first two days. I tried not to cry, but it didn’t take much to set me off. I could see nothing, but dim, fuzzy shapes around me and nothing was familiar. I kept walking into things and people. The staff had to guide me around every step of the way. This did not help me at all to feel more at home or secure. Every class I went to was started with talking and asking me questions. As I shared my feelings and explained the reasons behind me coming to HKNC, my plan of action changed rather quickly. I was taken out of the regular assessment cycle since I have a job and wish to stay with it. Now it is about seeing how they can help me carry out my day to day tasks and duties as a principal and teacher. That will help shorten my stay some since the first 8 weeks will now include mostly training rather than full evaluations.
To address my feelings about becoming totally deafblind, I thought the best way to handle that would be to try and talk to the deafblind residents here. Since I already have some basic sign knowledge, I tactilely started a conversation with a few of the residents over the next few days. They went quite well. I met one in particular named Steffie who is about my age, is married and has three children. She lost most of sight while the children were still young. Steffie is very intelligent and takes care of herself very well. She is here to improve her Braille skills and learn some more independent living skills. She is trying to find some type of work. These conversations help to reassure me that there is a real thinking and intelligent person in that body still. I know it probably sounds silly, but facing this really scared me.
The last couple of days have been increasingly better. Of course, getting my computer and X-box 360 helped to lift my spirits considerably, so I can do some work for the school and talk to my husband at night. In addition, I have begun my Braille training and sign and tactile sign training. My instructor was extremely surprised and pleased at what I already knew. The Ga Council for the Hearing Impaired rep, Marianne, and my deaf friends at church are responsible for that. I greatly appreciate it. I also began cooking, not just any cooking. I am cooking blindfolded. Most of my training here is being done as a totally deaf and blind person. It is definitely challenging, but it will keep me from having to return here as more of my vision and hearing decrease. I cooked a cheese omelet the first day and grilled chicken today. Both tasted very good. I also began learning and practicing chopping food and using a tray to do all my cooking in, so I will know where everything is and won’t be spilling food on the floor. They have a lot of devices and tips that even a sighted person would love to have and know. This weekend I won’t have class, but I will practice Braille and sign. I will also take little Joe to the dog run and walk the track. I finally got oriented and given permission to go alone over there. It is supposed to be nice tomorrow. Joey really needs it. No matter what I do he keeps getting stepped on, hit with canes, etc. I try to put him under a table wherever I go. These blind people aren’t cautious and aren’t trained in being considerate of others. They walk fast, clumsily, and continuous until they run into someone or a wall. Joey is often in the way. I will tell you more about the place, its schedule, and some of the people I’ve met next time. My schedule will be changing quite a bit over the next week or two as they finish testing me and placing me in my actual training classes. Until then, keep praying for me.

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One of the many problems facing some students in learning math is that they have trouble reasoning or thinking logically. The student may have been presented facts previously that they memorized for a tentative period, but they didn’t learn how to use those facts to reason or think logically about problems given to them. Thus, the student tends to forget many of the math facts shortly after the test. One problem with teaching a student to think logically is creating problem samples that are interesting and suitable for applying facts learned to deeper levels. The Critical Thinking Company has long established that they can produce materials designed to teach a student to think mathematically and apply the math facts to useful and interesting problems. Their newest edition to the Mathematical Reasoning series, Mathematical Reasoning: Middle School Supplement continues that tradition beautifully. My high school and middle school-aged students have been using this product recently in order for me to review. Let me tell you about our experience.

First of all, Mathematical Reasoning: Middle School Supplement has fifty problem sets covering topics typical of Middle School level from 2D Geometry to Probability to Per Cents to Statistics to 3D Geometry along with some higher level thinking practice on miscellaneous topics. There are a hundred pages of actual content with fifty-four remaining pages of detailed answers. Each lesson comes with a list for review of any math facts needed to solve the problems for review. In the answers section, strategy tips are also listed for each lesson if the student needs a little help finding the process to solve.  Each problem was developed to stimulate mathematical reasoning and provide enrichment and practice for specific skills. The problems are not particularly real-life oriented, though, so if you are looking for that kind of problem set predominantly, you won’t find it here. The author might provide more of that in the future, though, if needed by many. While the answers provided are detailed and comprehensive, many problems do have more than one solution method, so students can be encouraged to be creative in the process. The publisher suggests that the book can be used for enrichment, but also as an overall assessment tool of how well a student learned middle school concepts.

I found Mathematical Reasoning: Middle School Supplement useful with my gifted Sixth graders and for my lower level Ninth graders. The Sixth graders were excited by the idea of doing middle school math problems, and also found them challenging and interesting. The 9th graders needed to revisit the math facts and practice using them and focusing on the thinking process of working the problems designed for a specific skill. Many found the work in their own books too challenging. These problems were just the right fit.

The Critical Thinking Company has its Mathematical Reasoning series in nine levels from Pre-K to 8all focusing on the strategies need for solving a wide variety of math problems. Other workbooks covering other subjects and topics are also available on their web site. You will find Mathematical Reasoning: Middle School Supplement on their site at http://www.criticalthinking.com for $19.99. The series will be a great step to improved math reasoning preparing students for upper level math courses, as well as improved test scores.

I also recently reviewed The Critical Thinking Company’s Editor In Chief: Beginning 1. Please check it out, too, here.

Though I was provided a product to review for this blog, I have not been compensated in any other way, and the opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

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