Five-year-old, Feby, is ready to start ‘big school’ with support from Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC). It is an exciting time for parents, Nancy and Iron, who are grateful for the support they have received.
Feby was born with Retinal Dystrophy, a condition associated with reduced or deteriorating vision in both eyes.
“We were initially shocked when we received the diagnosis and didn’t know how we could help her or what type of support was available to us,” said Feby’s mother, Nancy. “After further tests at Westmead Children’s Hospital, Feby’s doctor suggested we contact RIDBC for help with early learning intervention.”
Feby’s journey began with RIDBC at three years of age when she enrolled at RIDBC VisionEd Preschool, which prepares children to transition to school life with a focus on language and social skills, foundation skills for literacy and numeracy, low vision aid and access technology training, orientation and mobility, and independent self-care skills.
“Feby has thoroughly enjoyed preschool and has completely thrived since she started,” said Nancy. “She is now able to use her fingers to explore objects and has made huge progress with her eye-hand coordination with help from RIDBC’s occupational therapist, Lynita, who has visited Feby every fortnight at preschool.”
RIDBC VisionEd Preschool together with Nancy and Iron are working hard to get Feby ready for school.
“Feby is working on pre writing, pre reading and pre Braille skills before starting school.” said RIDBC VisionEd Preschool Director, Kathryn Bowie. “She is very interested in letters and is expanding her use of English to communicate – a great achievement for Feby as Mandarin is her first language.
“Feby is also learning to use low vision aids such as dome magnifiers, CCTV and slope boards which will be useful to access information at school. She also has a weekly session with RIDBC’s access technology consultant to learn how to use computers and iPads to access information in preparation for school.”
Feby is looking forward to starting Kindergarten this year.
“Feby is really excited and curious to know what big school will be like!” said Nancy. “With RIDBC’s support I’m now feeling really confident and positive about her future and transition to mainstream school.”
RIDBC operates five specialist preschools for children with vision or hearing loss, which operate on a reverse-integration model, where children with vision or hearing loss attend alongside children from the local community, who are excellent language and learning models for their peers.
RIDBC supported 49 children through their five specialist preschools in 2016, in addition to 80 children from the community to act as learning and language models.
RIDBC VisionEd Preschool in North Rocks caters for children with vision loss, RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool caters for children with hearing loss learning to listen and speak, and RIDBC Roberta Reid Preschool caters for children learning Australian Sign Language (Auslan). RIDBC also run preschools in the Hunter and Nepean for children with vision or hearing loss.
RIDBC is a charity and Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and cochlear implant services for people with vision or hearing loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.
RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in people’s lives.