BEST, Blind Early Services TN, is a nonprofit organization co-founded by two moms of young boys who are blind. BEST provides family support, early intervention and advocacy services for families and providers of children who are blind or low vision. In each episode we will interview parents, providers and those with lived experiences in the blind/low vision community. We want to educate, empower, encourage and equip you with all the tools you need to ensure the BEST start for your child!
Episode 15: (Coast to Coast Series) Ashley Emmons, "As soon as you find out a child has a visual impairment, orientation and mobility can be implemented."
Ashley Emmons has worked at Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) in Louisville, KY since August 2008. VIPS is a non-profit organization that provides education to young children (birth to age 5) with visual impairments in both Kentucky and Indiana. She holds many teaching certifications including Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE), Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). In this episode, we ask Ashley questions about all things O&M and discuss the importance of orientation and mobility services for infants and toddlers with vision impairments.
Episode 14: (Coast to Coast Series) Kathy Mullen, "The average 2-year-old is awake 85 hours a week...if you give the parent strategies, there are so many opportunities to reinforce development."
Kathy Mullen is Director of Education at Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) in Louisville, KY. Kathy oversees the agency's education programs, including the full-time VIPS and Kids Town Preschools, toddler and infant classes, Summer Enrichment and statewide outreach services. VIPS serves as the model and inspiration for many of BEST's programs and services, and Kathy has been instrumental in helping guide us every step of the way. In this episode, we learn how VIPS got started, what has led them to the robust program they are today and where they are headed next.
Episode 13 (Coast to Coast Series): Terese Pawletko, "The caution needs to be in neither over nor under diagnosing children with vision impairments with autism spectrum disorders..."
Dr. Terese Pawletko has worked with children since 1976, first as a teacher of the visually impaired, then as school and pediatric psychologist. Since 2001, Dr. Pawletko has been in private practice, evaluating children with autism spectrum disorders, visual impairments and other learning and developmental challenges. While at the Maryland School for the Blind, Dr. Pawletko and her colleagues developed the first program in the country for children with visual impairment and autism. She is considered a national expert in this area and has presented at regional, national, and international conferences, conducted evaluations of children suspected of dual diagnosis, and provided consultation to and training of parents and service providers. Listen as we discuss the challenges and history of diagnosing visually impaired children with ASD.
Episode 12 (Coast to Coast Series): Paula Landry, "Let your child write their own story without your preconceived ideas of what the next chapter will look like..."
Paula Landry, EI-TVI, Orientation and Mobility Specialist and certified VIISA and INSITE trainer, co-founded A Shared Vision in Colorado. Today, the nonprofit is the leading provider of Early Intervention vision services in the state. Wearing many leadership hats, Paula provides operational support and mentoring for A Shared Vision's teachers. She also leads the nonprofit's efforts to provide education and support for the broader community that serves very young children with blindness or visual impairments, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, pediatricians, agencies and hospitals. Prior to A Shared Vision, Paula worked with the Anchor Center for Blind Children as a board member, Teacher of the Visually Impaired and leader of the Infant and Parent Program. Paula is also the proud mother to a 20-year-old daughter, Maddie, who is blind.
Episode 11 (Coast to Coast Series): Sarah Barnes, "Those precious years from 0-5 are such an opportunity to lay the foundation."
Sarah Barnes is the Senior Director of Youth and Employment Services at Lighthouse Louisiana in New Orleans. Sarah oversees the services and programming provided by the Youth Services Team which include those provided to children and students with visual impairments of all ages as well as transition services for students with disabilities who are in their final year of high school. She works closely with families and assists them in their efforts to advocate for their children to ensure they get the services and tools they need to succeed in school and life.
Episode 10 (Coast to Coast Series): Kate Borg, "Birth to 3 services are about coaching families...that is not just important, it is critical."
Kate Borg is the Director of Outreach at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). She previously worked for the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB). Kate has been an administrator, instructional coach, classroom teacher, and itinerant Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI). This is our first in a series of episodes featuring programs across the country serving children who are blind or low vision, and their families. Join our conversation with Kate as we learn all about the Texas model of services and why early intervention is so critical.
Relatable, helpful, and enjoying it