My daughter Hannah has Laure Griffis, Flex Vision Rehabilitation Assistant, for her instructor and I don't know what we would do without this program. There are so many things that I struggled with allowing Hannah to do out of fear and the notion that it was just not possible. Laure has changed so much of that thinking for my entire family. When we are faced with a dilemma of how to incorporate Hannah in an event or make something doable for her, even my Mom will say, why don't you call Laure and see what she would suggest. Laure brings a can-do spirit to her instruction and such patience. She has taught Hannah to use a gas range, wash her hair, clip her own nails, apply make-up and nail polish, dress herself and organize her belongings just to name a few. I am looking forward to having Hannah, and our family, continue this program with Laure as she assists Hannah in becoming an independent adult.
- Jessica, Hannah's mother
Following a stroke of the optic nerve in 2008, Dan Davis retired after 43 years with the same company. Being independent has been a priority throughout his life, so Dan came to AVRE to acquire some adaptive living skills that would enable him to find new employment.
Dan now works at AVRE and is thrilled about being employed again! His free time is important, too. He sings and plays drums in his band, the Dirig Brothers. He'll retire some day, but working and staying active are key to Dan's independence and quality of life.
My son, Guy, started receiving VRT services when he was four years old. He was unable to use silverware, travel anywhere safely, and really had no understanding or comprehension of braille. He couldn’t brush his teeth, he wasn’t able to potty train. So, as you can see, he was quite behind on major milestone skills that are critical to being a productive and successful member of society. When Laure began this venture with us, Guy used his hands to eat EVERYTHING! After a lot of hard work, time and patience my son can now eat soup with a spoon, twirl spaghetti on a fork, and is slowly learning to use sharp knives.
At four years old Guy couldn’t safely maneuver our own home independently, let alone walk safely in the general public. Now he goes for walks ALONE down our road! He can safely travel through a crowded store without running into everything. Some of the other things he’s learned from these services are how to pick out his own clothes, managing his hygiene, and to complete basic household chores. He’s learned to us a microwave and a George Foreman grill, to prepare his own basic breakfast, lunch, and snacks. He is learning many kitchen/cooking skills, to manage money, including making a transaction, and folding and identifying it properly. He learned to read and write braille proficiently as well. One of the most important things Laure helped him with was learning to be an active member of our family, including interacting and socializing with company and not being overstimulated by it, causing him to hide in his room.
I could go on and on about how much he has learned and benefited from AVRE. Though some may seem minute and trivial, let me tell you; when you’re a parent of a blind child and you truly have no idea how to go about teaching your child these basic things, they become gargantuan mountains to climb up. Laure has helped Guy to overcome his fear of life and helped him accept and say the words, “I AM BLIND”. Through receiving services he has become more independent, more social with peers, more active, and most importantly other than being blind, he is a typical, average 11 year old boy who now enjoys life!
I can say with definitive clarity that without AVRE and the services Laure has provided, Guy and myself would not be where we are now. Guy wouldn’t be entering sixth grade in a general education school setting, because he would have had to go to a school for the blind so he can learn these skills from them; instead of at home with his family. He wouldn’t be outside playing football with his younger siblings as I write this, as he wouldn’t be able to safely travel off the porch. Without these services, my now 11 year old son wouldn’t be a productive student, friend or member of our local community. Through AVRE we were given a wonderful gift: a therapist who genuinely cares for her clients’ well-being. She was ready and willing to teach not only, Guy, the skills he would need to succeed in his life travels; but she was willing to teach me how to teach my son. She taught me that I couldn’t do everything FOR him, that I had to let him fall (figuratively and literally at times) so he could learn to pick himself up.
I would highly recommend VRT services through AVRE for any child who is blind or visually impaired and needs/qualifies for them. They are a wonderful, competent, group of people able to help children find independence and succeed in life as a whole! Thank you.
-Genevieve Williams, Guy's mother
Laure Griffis has been very helpful in explaining how to work with a blind child that is also MR. She is very patient with us and the child showing us what she needs. We are very pleased with her coming into our home and working with our child and our family. She has helped us to work with the blind and MR. She has helped us understand her cane, her special dish for meals and how to have her eat properly. She also has taught both Elizabeth and ourselves the importance of where to stand for the bus and her awareness of her surroundings. Laure has shown us how to patiently teach Liz to use her manners, have proper daily hygiene, and learn everyday normal tasks that we take for granted. Laure has taken Liz on field trips to interact with surroundings outside the home. Laure is consistently teaching Liz everyday household chores that Liz can use in her future, such as folding clothes and putting them away, setting the dinner table etc. Laure practices family group learning with us, so that everyone in our family can help Liz as the need arises.
In conclusion, we would like to say that Laure being in our home for the last three years has been very important to us learning how to care for a blind, MR child. Without her guidance things would not be progressing as fast. It has been a learning experience for all of us.
- Liz's father and mother, Richard and Kim Hamilton