We spent last week at VISIONS Center on Blindness (formerly Vacation Camp for the Blind) with Benjamin and had a great time all around. VCB is not too far away from us, but it is on a big piece of property in Rockland county and was a nice break from the city.
The week we were at VCB it was reserved for families with children with visual impairments up to 5 years old and children with multiple disabilities of any age. And while every kid is very different, it was really good for us to meet other parents who understand first hand what it’s like. Other weeks throughout the summer are set aside for older kids and adults, so Ben can look forward to visiting VCB for a long time.
Ben got to play all day, socialize with other kids and go in the pool while Amy and I went to workshops and parents groups (as well as a good amount of just plain relaxing). Each evening the center ran events and even had a couple of parties.
The counselors and the staff at VCB were amazing, wonderful people who could not do enough for the families staying there. You could tell how much they cared about being involved at VISIONS. It really made it special.
We are grateful for the friends we made at VCB and we can’t wait to meet up again. Special thanks to everyone at VISIONS for a great week and to everyone who helps support it, including our regional Lion Clubs.
And now for some cute photos…
Cabins at VCB
Ben hanging at the pool
Ben and counselor Steph
A book before lunch
Reading is fun
Ben in the pool
Going for a stroll at camp
Ben and his teacher Dawn
Otilia, Cameron, Al and Ethan
Ben and a bunny
At the petting zoo
Ben pets a goat
We are very fortunate that Ben is a very good sleeper. He is great about sleeping through the night and wakes at a decent hour. But Ben does not approach sleep gently. He attacks it like a kid at a playground. He thinks bedtime is for acrobatics and leaps across the crib. Here’s just an example of what he does every. night. (and also shows off his new hair cut) <video>
In other news, Ben has been doing well on the food side – not that it still isn’t a struggle to get more food in him than he throws up (a lovely image – I apologize) but he has been easier to feed in general. In fact, he’s now 24 pounds! I know it’s not much for a kid who’s more than 2 years old – but for us, it’s wonderful. In fact – it puts him at the 6th percentile for weight. That’s solidly on the chart.
Ben also had a great time with his best buds, Jack and Jerome, this Independence Day – splashing and laughing. They also took a trip to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum – which was a bit much for Ben, but we’ll be back.
One of the workshops that Joe and I attended at the Perkins Early Connections Conference involved the idea of concept building. Concept building is important for all children, but needs to be done more explicitly for those with visual impairments.
For example, a sighted child getting a cup of milk sees the parent go the refrigerator, get the milk, get a cup, pour the milk into the cup and bring the cup to them. They also see the cow-print or farm scene on the milk carton. On the other hand, Ben gets a cup of milk magically appear in front of him. We have to tell him where we keep the milk, how we pour it into the cup and where milk comes from. As we don’t have a cow in our apartment, we have to make do with apps such as Sound Touch that have realistic animal sounds (Sound Touch also has instruments, automobiles, and household objects) and plastic models of the cow. Anyone who has ever seen a cow knows that a plastic model, though visually like a cow, is a far cry from the actual animal.
So our first trip to a farm was exciting- seeing real animals! This is the first step for Ben to understand what they feel like, sound like, and smell like before understanding that sometimes, um, we eat them too. We are planning on visiting Queens Zoo and Queens Farm, NY Aquarium the Bronx Zoo as well this summer and fall, so hopefully we’ll have a lot of opportunities to have a variety of real world experiences.
It was also a lovely day to spend with Aunt Chrissie and Kaia, who were up from North Carolina, and see Gram and ACA! We all had a great time!
Ben tries out his cane
Ben is just starting to walk but we wanted to introduce a cane to him right away. We don’t expect him to use it properly anytime soon – he doesn’t even have an O&M instructor yet – but we thought it was important to get him (and us) used to the idea of his cane as being a part of geting around. Right now he mostly thinks it’s fun to bang on the ground and chew on, but some day soon his cane will be his best friend. Learning to use a cane will be an important part of Ben being independent.
Benjamin’s cane is a free cane provided by the National Federation for the Blind. Special thanks to Barbara Pollard whose donation to the NFB provided the cane for Ben. You rock!
I’m sure we’ll be writing more about the cane as Ben gets better at getting around, and especially as he heads out into the wide world.
Also – you may notice the blog is changed a little bit. We gave it a new look and changed the title a little. It’s just “All About Benjamin” now – no more “baby.” Benjamin is growing up!
Happy Mother’s Day (a day late) to my beautiful wife and Ben’s mom!
Back in the baby in a box days
First time holding Benjamin
Ben celebrates Mother’s Day with his mom and grandmothers
It’s Benjamin’s birthday today! I remember right after Ben was born and things were moment by moment, when we watched for the clock to hit 1:04 the next day so we could celebrate 24 hours – thinking about two years was so far from our thoughts that finding ourselves here already is disorienting.
To be honest, last year it felt a little strange on Ben’s birthday celebrating the anniversary of our scariest day ever. Yes- we were celebrating the whole year since he was born, but February 7 2011 was a rough rough day (Again so much thanks to Carol for her amazingness). But this year it feels so much better. It’s 100% celebration this year!
Ben will be spending the weekend with us and family and friends to celebrate his special day (if the blizzard holds off long enough) but we were able to do a little birthday-ing tonight. Here is some super cute evidence of our two(!) year old.
Birthday Present: Abacus! Best. Toy. Ever.
A table for me? You shouldn’t have!
Remember when you were bigger than me?
Fake fruit. Interesting choice for a present…
It seems even babies who can’t see know when you have your video camera out, otherwise I would be able to share with you a very exciting video of Benjamin going from the floor to standing up without any support! He did it a couple of times in a row last night but we couldn’t get him to repeat it once we had a camera on him. So you will just need to take my word for it.
He also has been letting go of things and standing unsupported for longer than ever before. It made us so happy to see him standing clapping and smiling today for like 20 seconds. Normally he will wobble over pretty fast, or lunge towards us, or make a fun game of falling on his bum.
Ben is also in nonstop motion – climbing up his giant stuffed dog onto the couch or moving around his toys or the furniture in a cruising/rolling/falling/climbing combo. Good thing he’s tough though – he ends up banging his head a lot.
He’s leaning on me here but you get the idea