[bksvol-discuss] Re: OT: Mainstreaming

  • From: "Julie Morales" <mercy421@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 15:40:43 -0500

Hi, Sarah. You've had a very interesting experience! I think it's neat that 
you were able to go to a school for the blind and regular school 
alternately. The school for the blind is an hour or more from where I live, 
so while I did attend the school for a few years, I couldn't do both at the 
same time. That would have been a neat concept and something I think a lot 
of people could probably benefit from. Take care.
Julie Morales
To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives 
today. -- Unknown
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sarah Van Oosterwijck" <curiousentity@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2005 12:21 PM
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: OT: Mainstreaming

Here is way too much personal information for those of you who enjoy
reading people's stories. I don't usually write a lot of personal stuff to
lists, but for some reason I thought I'd share today since the list got on
the toppic.

We all learn a lot from our experiences and are affected by our environment
growing up. It's too bad both the positive and the negative get absorbed. I
am a totally worthless gardener. I think I learned how to pick raspberries
from doing it in my grandpa's huge garden, but other than that I
experienced very little gardening and that was mostly negative. My parents
are terrible gardeners, too.

A lot of the same when it came to cooking and other common things people
have expected girls to be able to do. It wasn't that my mom didn't think I
could do it, it was that she thought it was annoying enough to try to do it
all herself and she couldn't deal with teaching me. Good thing I was taught
to cook in school, or I'd be starving now.  I just wish there had been
someone to teach me all kinds of things that people do, but are never
tought in school.  I had a general absence of capable roll models.  I had
positive ones, but not necessarily practical and capable ones. :-)

I learned to recreate much more successfully. My family loved hiking,
climbing, swimming, and all kinds of other outdoor activities. I also
inherited a sense of direction and the ability to map, create, or just
visualize almost anything in my head when provided enough information
through a discription or experience. Unfortunately it doesn't work for
spelling, but the longer I live without spelling ability and the more I
read the more I think that is just another disability I have. I'm certain
it has not much to do with not really learning braille completely until I
was in third grade, or having textbooks in braille sometimes and on tape at
other times. I'm not the only person in the world who loves to read, but
can't manage to learn to spell halfway decently. So much for phonics. :-)

I always said that I went to more school than most kids because I almost
always went to two different schools. In kindergarden I went to the
Minnesota State Academy for the Blind and my neighborhood school on
alternating days. I also went to summer school at MSAB. Then in first and
second grade I went to the public school for the whole day with an hour of
reading afterwords at MSAB. When I was 9 I lost the sight I had because my
retinas detached. Up til then no one really thought I would need the
braille I was learning just in case my inherited eye condition really did
cause me serious problems.

I finished out the school year in my public school class with a very
irritating assistant, who usually had only worked in the lunchroom and at
recess supervising all the kids. She was my sworn enemy because she didn't
understand anything at all about what being blind ment, so she treated me
totally strangely. She was always forgeting to tell me things I needed to
be told from the blackboard, but she would frequently repeat what the
teacher had said, which of course I already knew. I felt like she treated
me like I was stupid. Later we had battles over what I would and would not
do on the playground. She lost, unofficially. I just didn't pay any
attention to what she told me not to do, because I knew that the school may
have made up those stupid rules, but my family would tell them to leave me
alone if they dared to try to get me in trouble for what I did. I was only
doing what other kids were allowed to do during recess. We also had a few
battles over whether I would eat some disgusting slop the school dared to
call lunch. I had no problem eating my vegetables but I wouldn't eat
rubbery sausages if I had to sit in that lunch room for the entire day. I
sat there with an annoying grin until they needed to send me back to class
because the room was needed for gym.

I hated my cane when I was first given it, too. I could navigate without it
perfectly well at first, so I resented being made to use it all the time. I
didn't mind learning to use it at all, but I just didn't like showing off
the one they gave me in my classes. It was a heavy metal one with a hook at
the top. I didn't like it because it looked like a cane for an old person.
Of course I didn't clearly communicate this complaint, so no one understood
that I was not just being difficult. Later I was given a cane I liked much
more and I stopped resisting. I was extremely mad when it was broken by a
stupid running person who wasn't paying the slightest attention to where
they were going. I didn't know for many years that the cane I had liked was
actually a fiberglass NFB cane. I always had folding ones other than that
one and I got used to them. Now I use a fiberglass one again and would
never go back to a heavy one.

After that year I went to the Academy most of the time until highschool
when I started taking a little more than half my classes at the public
school. I took whitch ever classes I thought would work best at each.
Braille, O&M, gym, math, and home Ec. at the Academy and the rest at the
public school. I thought that was pretty nice. I do wish I had learned more
math, though. My class moved too slowly, but I still think having math in
the public school would have been a nightmare. I got to have geometry that
way, which I was certainly a lot better at than algebra, and I know the way
I did it would not have worked in a public school.

I also was possibly the youngest, or maybe the smallest, kid to have shop
class, which I absolutely loved. I had to stand on a chair to use the drill
press in third grade. That year I was only allowed to use a hand saw. I
guess the teacher thought the radial arm saw was too big for me. LOL I did
get to use all the power tools later, though. I can't really remember what
I tried first at home and what at school, because I was always my dad's
helper in all his building projects. I was useful because I was the only
person who wouldn't get bord and run away just when he needed someone to
hold something. I also would hold things for him while he nailed or stapled
which made other people so nervous they flintched. I climbed up or under or
in anywhere to hold or get things where they were needed, and a small
person was ideal for that purpose.

I'm just happy that behaving in a typpically girl way was no longer
important once I started school, because I would not have done well. I'm
only very feminine when it comes to clothes and colors, which are important
to me.

Sarah Van Oosterwijck
Assistive Technology Trainer

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