Future Reflections Summer 1991

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THE COMMITTEE ON THE BLIND MULTIPLY HANDICAPPED CHILD

WHAT IS IT and WHAT DOES IT DO?

by Colleen Roth

Note from Barbara Cheadle, President of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind: Ever since I appointed Colleen Roth and Ruth Van Ettinger as co-chairs of the Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child, the role of this important group has been mushrooming. Here is Colleen Roth's brief report on the committee and its efforts:

The focus of the Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child is children and adults with blindness and some other disability, which can be physical or mental. Individuals in this group range from those with above average intelligence and a physical disability to those with profound mental retardation in addition to blindness.

We share information with families and professionals who work with this special population. In general we find that blindness is not the primary disability when mental retardation or other developmental disabilities are involved.

We circulate a periodic update, which is sent to all the families and professionals who have requested information, and we continue to prepare new materials that these families and educators need. We currently have 250 families and professionals on our mailing list.

We also network families and professionals with others coping with similar situations. We get the information we need to match people up by sending out questionnaires. Families who have requested information are sent a questionnaire which helps to determine the child or adult's functional level, age, the medical diagnosis, and the areas in which the child or adult needs assistance. The responding individual can also indicate whether the family or care-giver wishes to network. A questionnaire is also sent to professionals asking them about the settings in which they work and the population they serve. We also ask whether or not they wish to network with other professionals. All information received is confidential. Only the name, address, and a brief description of common characteristics is sent to those we match up for networking. The rest (contacting each other and how much and what kind of information is shared) is left up to the network pair. So far, we have matched up 52 families and 72 professionals.

We also circulate a Braille Monitor article entitled "Education of the Blind Mentally Retarded Child," a toy resource list (toys are selected on the basis of a child's mental age), and two articles on feeding.We have had several requests for information on dealing with self injury. We now have order forms for a pamphlet on this topic published by the Institute for Disabilities Studies, University of Minnesota. If you are interested in receiving this booklet, please write to us for the order form, and we will be glad to send one to you.

Mrs. Ruth Van Ettinger serves as co-chair of the POBC Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child. Her area of expertise and interest is higher functioning blind and otherwise disabled children. She will be corresponding with those who have an interest in these youngsters. She will also contribute material to the update and other mailings

If you wish to receive the update or any of the articles listed here or if you are interested in our committee network, please write to Mrs. Colleen Roth, Co-chair, POBC Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child, 1912 Tracy Road, Northwood, Ohio 43619, or call (419) 666-6212.

Requests for all items, including information about higher functioning blind children, should be sent to Colleen Roth at the Northwood address. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or comments for the update, please submit them in writing.

If you copy or pass on our materials to others, please be sure that the name and address of our committee is included so that those who get it know how to contact us directly for more help and information.

Please spread the word about this committee and network! Your support and involvement is vital to our committee's growth and effectiveness.

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