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Matthew’s Development Journey Through the Pandemic

Touch and feel, physical presence is a vital element for the visually impaired. This article is a SHOUT OUT of thanks and support to all the parents who have had to step up, step in and become a daily part of their children’s education.

Our daughter, Lauren, recently received a tote and a basket from the AZ School for the Deaf and Blind full of educational tools and therapy items with which to continue Matthew’s development with. I’m sure that with all the delays in getting students (disabled or not) back to school she is not the only one. For the disabled it is a particularly difficult time. It’s hard enough to take a child with all their faculties at 100% out of their school routine and away from their school relationships but when we’re talking about children working to overcome a disability challenge, it is even harder. More difficult for them and their parents who have not had the benefit of years of training and education on how to teach a blind student.

This is a writing about a challenge that was overcome by Matthew’s family and it is truly heart-warming. We’ll start with the smallest support system in his home, his younger sister Mia. Matthew’s piano lessons, because of Covid concerns, went virtual and were/are being conducted through Zoom. How does this work? Not being in the lessons studio with his piano teacher Kate? Well, Lauren informed us that Mia (who is also a Miss Kate piano student) sits next to her brother, with Mom on the other side as needed, and Mia is the hands on, physical part of the learning equation. This is teamwork at its best.

The stress and sacrifices parents have been and are making trying to juggle work, home schooling, and running a household during these times cannot be understated. There are untold numbers of parent heroes holding down the fort until some sort of normal can be recaptured and the relationships and physical interactions these students need so badly can be returned to them. The goal now is to NOT get any further behind the developmental curve than necessary.

In addition to the piano lessons, parents were now scheduling an endless parade of Zoom meetings which once more, are more effective for students without disabilities than those who dearly need their support system put back in place.

We are delighted to announce that; as of this writing, many students are being allowed to attend school, at least on a limited basis, in person as opposed to virtually. All students would benefit from returning right away. This is a cautious pragmatic opinion. Their teachers have been anxious beyond belief to get back to serving their kids. Lord knows they don’t do what they do for financial reasons alone. They are in their specialty field out of passion and a higher level of concern for those who are overcoming disabilities. These are special people who have wanted to get back to it!

The educational load has been shouldered by his Mom while Dad is at work and Mia is pitching in but Dad has also used some creative ways to help his oldest son get around better. During a recent Facetime Tammy and I saw Matthew go to the refrigerator, get ice and pour himself a glass of water! His dad (Big Matt) placed tape on the proper buttons on the front of the refrigerator and showed him the chronological steps to take and BINGO! Matthew doesn’t have to have help when he is thirsty in his home.

This family has been making do in a tough circumstance by working together. We can all learn from this example of overcoming and surviving until we regain that semblance of normal we all crave. Say a prayer for our disabled students, a prayer that has the people in charge coming up with creative ways to get them safely, physically back in school on a consistent regular basis where they need to be.

Here’s what we’ve learned from being around teachers, all of whom are special, who serve the disabled – they are called to do what they do. Their commitment to help these students overcome their obstacles and be the best “them” they can be drives them. We have seen it first hand, teachers and administrative educators that could make more money somewhere else but are married to their mission to be of service to the impaired. On the level we are capable of, as a smaller not so famous foundation, we are proud at Matty’s Vision to support them.

As school returns to session we will be contacting the educators we work with to ask them for a list of their musical needs. Please consider an online donation or purchasing a CD to help us fulfill their lists as they come in. I must remind you that the state’s don’t provide them with everything they need and that’s where we step in. We are committed to assist as much as possible and as much as supporters which as yourself allow us to. Even small donations add up… it only costs $15 for a harmonica and $100 for a guitar in addition to the larger gifts we give. Thanks for considering it and remembering these special students and educators.

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