A few years ago our elementary school decided to have 6th graders switch classrooms for different subjects.  They figured it would be a good preparation for junior high the next year, and the team of great 6th grade teachers knew they could work together to make it effective.  
And they did.
Each sixth grader has a home room, then moves to social studies, math, science, etc.
For obvious reasons, Lucy was worried.
And so was I. 
Her vision has been declining more rapidly lately.  She can’t tell if there’s a strawberry or a piece of paper right in front of her on the counter.  She uses her hands to feel things much more, trying to decipher shapes and textures.  She is openly more frustrated and grumpy, going from all rainbows and butterflies to the depths of sorrow, and I don’t blame her one bit.  I cannot imagine how frustrating and difficult that would be.
But I think the thought of school and switching classes loomed heavily in front of us.  The unknown is scary.
Lucy has the best Braille teacher in the whole wide world.  She jumps to action with any situation and has so many answers when we run up against something extra difficult for Lucy.  We had been in touch over the summer and she had talked to the 6th grade team about the little presentation of Lucy’s vision loss as well as BBS we had done in both her 4th and 5th grade classrooms.
All of the 6th grade teachers jumped right on board and wanted their own classroom presentation during the first full week of school.  Lucy would be in classes with the majority of the sixth graders and the teachers wanted to be taught as well.  
So Mrs. Wells (the Braille teacher) and I made the rounds.  
Lucy came with us to the beginning of each.  Mrs. Wells introduced everything, I talked for about five minutes about BBS and had Lucy stand with me to explain to each classroom how cool and awesome and smart she is…hope I didn’t go too overboard :).  And then Mrs. Wells had Braille packets for all the kids to figure out how their name looks in Braille:
(They also got to write their own “secret message” in Braille if they wanted)…
…and little stations where kids could wear goggles to simulate vision loss and also blindfolds to try to use their sense of touch to decipher shapes and words:

They got to use the Braillers to type their own names:

And they got to ask any question they wanted.

Lucy and I let them know she’d be happy to have any questions they wanted to ask, or that they were curious about.

I’m mad I didn’t get a picture of Lu with Mrs. Wells (except for that small one at the top), because she is the hero of this day.  We love her so much and are so grateful for her!

And I love each of those teachers and that they wanted to learn.

I sure loved being with my girl there, and watching her shine.

I explained to all the kids that each of them has their own things that are different and unique, and we can learn so much from each other if we aren’t afraid to ask genuine questions and seek to understand.

We all have our own stories.  We can all use love and understanding in so many different ways and on so many different levels.

It was a good day.


  1. Have you asked Lucy's Braille teacher for advice on how to deal with her daily frustrations?
    Has Lucy the opportunity to regularly meet other kids with special needs? Blind kids for example?
    Has Lucy ever met with a therapist to help her deal with her dark moods?
    Just wondering. Thank you so much for sharing. Lucy has such an inspiring personality! 💜

  2. Another TVI here. How wonderful Lucy and her teacher had an in service for her classmates! Kids love learning about Braille and how they can help/be a friend. They need us to model for them and share what we expect of peers.
    I spy my friend/colleague Anna Swenson’s Braille sheet! She helped creat the Braille Bug website. Some years I have shared this site during January- Braille Literacy month. http://braillebug.afb.org

  3. Boy, I have been a long-time reader of this blog, even before I was a mother. Yours is the only blog I have continued reading, so that first picture at the very top with Lucy just stopped me in my tracks as I realized just how beautiful and grown up she is!!! My goodness, you have been a mighty advocate for her as you have navigated this diagnosis through the years. What a great school. I love that you have developed such a wonderful partnership with them.

  4. Hi Shawni, another longtime reader here wishing you and Lucy all the best! I wanted to mention a youtube channel you both might like. Molly Burke is a Canadian youtuber who is blind (she lost her vision in her teenage years), and she makes a mix of videos, many of which are about her experiences as a person with vision loss. Some of her videos are about other topics and might be a little mature for Lucy, but I think there are many on there that are worth checking out. One example is this great video where she talks about how she uses technology (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OEZX5lsQG8), and here is her channel trailer to give you more of an idea of the type of content she posts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIQU7wTtTHs).

  5. Hi Shawni, I just love your blog. I recently just had my first baby and I’m loving re-reading many of your parenting posts with a whole new perspective. 🙂 One of my friends just had a baby boy who was diagnosed with BBS. I tried to tag you in her post about it on Instagram. I know you’re so busy but I really wanted to try and connect the two of you. I told her to look up your blog too. Thank for all the great posts!

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