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Will the Real Nicole White Please Step Forward

by Holly White and Loretta White

From the Editor: In some ways the perception most people have of blind, multiply disabled or deaf-blind children is the flip side of the old adage about not being able to see the forest for the trees. It is easy with these children to only see the myriad physical, mental, and/or emotional manifestations of the disabilities, and to entirely miss seeing the unique individual under all those disabilities. Sometimes it takes someone like, well, another child maybe a sister or brother to help us see that distinctive personality.

The following article contains two descriptions of the same child Nicole White. Both are accurate, but neither is truly complete without the other. One is a detailed description of Nicole's disabilities. This information is vital to developing an appropriate education plan. But even the best prepared plan will not work unless the teacher understands that he or she is not teaching a conglomeration of disabilities he or she is teaching a child; a child that a sister can play with, argue with, tease, and love. Here is Nicole White: The Disabilities and Nicole White: The Sister.

Nicole White: The Disabilities

by Loretta White

Editor's Note: Yes, they are related. Mrs. White is Nicole's mother, but she is also a special education teacher. She put this report together with as little bias as possible just as if she were doing a report on any special education student.

Nicole, now 11 years old, was a 3 pound, 14 ounces preemie. She was born in Calcutta, India. She lives with her adoptive parents and three siblings. She is deaf-blind which presents as total blindness (secondary to Retrolental Fibroplasia) and asymmetrical high frequency hearing loss (mild in the right ear and moderate to severe in the left ear). She has a history of grand mal seizures.

Occupational Therapy evaluations have findings of delay in fine motor, perceptual-motor, and gross-motor skills approximately 2 years below expectation. Her school reports poor and inappropriate behavioral patterns. Psychological assessments place her cognitive functioning in the low-average range with significant discrepancies in her overall profile. She has significant weaknesses in identifying common objects placed in her hands and poor sensory integration.

Nicole displayed above average strengths in measures of memory functioning, including both long- and short-term memory. Her high frequency hearing loss appears to have an impact on her language processing which may be exacerbating her distractibility and attention to task, as testing placed her in the defective ranges. Nicole displays an aversion to certain materials and her strength, while bilaterally equally, is below expectation for grip strength in her upper extremities.

Diagnostic formulations state that Nicole has a mild to moderate neuro-cognitive disorder, central nervous system dysfunction, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominately hyperactive-impulsive type in the mild to moderate range, anxiety disorder due to blindness, mild cerebral palsy syndrome, and uncontrollable grand mal seizures in the moderate range. She also has a learning disorder in the mild to moderate range, which is further defined as a central integrative processing disorder. She has educational problems related to discord with teachers and peers and an inadequate social environment.

Nicole White: The Sister

by Holly White

Nicole is a beautiful girl. She has black hair and brown skin. She is eleven years old and her birthday is November 21. She is interesting.

Nicole has a large family. She has seven brothers and three sisters. Six of the brothers are half and one sister is half. She has two loving and caring parents, Joe and Loretta. Her sisters that live with her are Alicia (9) and Holly (12). She has a nephew living with her named Joey who is 8 years old.

Nicole enjoys many things. Music is one of her favorites. She is very good at keyboarding. She plays by ear and makes up her own songs that are really quite good. Her favorite type of music is Bluegrass. She likes to play it really loud so of course our parents yell at her to turn it down.

She loves food. Her favorite is spicy food, especially Cajun. Of course, she was in heaven when we went to New Orleans. She will even eat things she doesn't particularly like if you add hot sauce. She also loves crunchies such as chips, cookies, and crackers. She can't stand slimy foods like oatmeal and bananas.

Nicole is into Barbies. Her favorites are Teacher Barbie and Barbie and Ginger (the walking, talking dog). She has a red Barbie corvette, bed, and more. She likes to use her Barbie answering machine, too.

She has a lot of toy dogs. She pretends she is the head of Seeing Eye and she trains the dogs to be guide dogs for the blind. That's unusual since she usually hates soft things such as soft and fuzzy fur. She has given each one a name and a personality. Some are nice but some are pesky who bark in the middle of the night.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is Nicole's favorite author. She loves all the books about Little House on the Prairie. She likes to pretend to be the characters. When she reads one of the books in Braille, my mom lets her do things in the old-fashioned way. Her favorite was making sausage, but she also liked making butter and washing clothes on a washboard. She did not like washing dishes without a dishwasher.

In school her favorite subject is Social Studies because she likes learning about and creating land features. She is home-taught by her excellent mother. When she gets mad at Mom she writes her memos. Nicole named our homeschool the Whitehouse Academy. She calls my mom the Headmistress. My Dad used to be the Superintendent but she fired him. Now he is just the Principal.

Nicole loves telling lame jokes. Knock, knock this and knock, knock that. She thinks that they are all very hilarious. The jokes are pretty good the first ten times but after that they get boring.

Nicole has an interesting personality. She sees things a little differently. She is like a banana on an apple tree, so she is never boring (except for her jokes). She is loving and helpful, but she can also be really annoying at times. I guess all siblings are like that. After all, I am her sister. But through thick and thin she is a sweet little sister. I love her.

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