Public vs School for the Blind

Vickie - posted on 09/17/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I would like to hear your thoughts on which school you think is better?

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Heather - posted on 12/01/2011

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Schools for the blind had a purpose once upon a time before the ADA and IDEA gave full access to public education for blind students. But now there are TVIs Teachers of the Visually Impaired and O and M instructors, Orientation and Mobility Instructors. Now there is RFB and D, Recordings for the Blind and Dislexic, and NLS, National Library Service and on and on, and there's absolutely no reason to put a blind child who is not multiplihandicapped into a "school for the blind." Most schools for the blind have closed, or now only serve severely multiplihandicapped students. There are a few exceptions in the US where schools for the blind still teach blind students who are normal in all other respects, but this is highly socially detremental, even if and when, which is rare, the core ciriculum is actually up to state standards. It is hugely stigmatizing. Abuse is very common in these places especially for those students who live at the school. Trust me, I know tons of blind adults who were abused as children, physically, sexually and emotionally at schools for the blind, and I know kids and teens who used to attend schools for the blind and who got the heck out and never looked back. With push-in services by blindness education professionals in the regular class room there simply is no reason to send a child there anymore. Also, I've heard a lot argue ""Well, he/she can feel accepted there, they will feel normal, they will be better off." In the real world, which they will have to live in if they don't want to wind up in a group home, or alone with no friends who aren't blind, you have to deal with rejection. You know what? Your blind child probably won't be Mr. or Miss popular, and they won't have a ton of "friends" but they will have a few really close, really true friends in school, public school, and that will be the beginning of their network that will help them in making more friends, dating, attending college and pursuing a career, not just a job. Dealing with the sighted public, with their peers can be difficult/frustrating, but being sheltered from both positive and negative interactions and experiences for years and then being thrown in to the real world with no real sense of what to expect and no coping skills is a very very socially detremental thing to do to a child. The only, and I do mean only real benifit to some, note, some, schools for the blind is that they offer opertunities for blind children to see blind professionals, some teachers are blind, and to socialize with other blind children, but this can be accomplished with workshops, blindness related conventions and in some cases, camps for blind children, and needn't be available 24-7 in a school for the blind setting. The costs far out-weigh the benifits in this case. I also want to address two comments. One person wrote something about which school you choose to go to, well guess what? You don't have to go there, your kid does, so ask them, and most if you give them the chance to go to a regular school first will say "heck no. Don't send me away. Don't send me to some weird school, I wanna stay with my friends." I am blind and I was mainstreamed, and I have seen the negative effects on children who went to "blind schools." Even if they have no mental retardation, they are socially retarded and sighted students avoid them like the plague and ask why I am so normal and those students are so scary, their words, not mine. Also, another poster said something about being in a class of 100 and not able to see the board. Hun, if you had gone to public school you'd know that there are between 15 and 30 students in public school class rooms, and one needn't see the board to get a good education. Also, my mom went to a school for the blind, back when public schools weren't an option. She was abused in all three ways mentioned above and only when she insisted on attending a public highschool could her intelligence translate into meaningful accademic work. She is an awesome amazing person in spite of attending a school for the blind, not because of it.

Krista WatersEnter Your Full - posted on 08/19/2012

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I have to disagree.

I went to public school from preschool threw part of sixth.
my elementary years were fine I was in a class for the visually impaired and mainsteamed for stuff like P.E. and science and social studdies.
upon entering sixth grade..things changed.
I saw a TVI for 1 hour everyday, I had anywhere form 30-40 students in each class. and I just could not cope. I started becoming suicidal because I could not keep up, at this time my learning disabilities and hearing impairment were not noticable.
I had gone to the florida school for the deaf and blind for camp on multiple occasions as a younger child. I can remember crying for almost the entire 3 weeks I'd gone there the first time, but eventually I got used to it.
I wanted out of public school I could not handle the reg classroom. I'm not mentally handicapped or anything I just needed a more 1-1 on setting. so I switched, upon my starting there I was totally lagging in self-esteem as well as academically, in sixth grade I was reading on a 4th grade level and same for math. with time and patients things improved. fsdb had its ups and downs things were not perfect, but I fit in...I did things in a public school I'd never would have had the opportunety to do, ride horses, boathing, sports etc. I had my time with sighted people as well I worked in the community, learned skills for grocery shopping independently etc.
schools for the blind do actually exist in:
florida, georgia, sough carolina, new jersey, maryland, new york, pennsylvania, california, colorodo, massachussetts etc. at my school if you wanted it and the teachers felt you could handle it...you could be mainsteamed, usually the kids who had good fcat and high GPA's did this. I wanted to be in my senior year, but learning disabilities were in my way.
so please do not sway that all blind schools are bad, abuses happen, abuses happen in public schools as well.

Susan - posted on 12/16/2013

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I'm not sure this is the place to present this but I assume most blind children listen to audiobooks. I recently had a children's book I wrote come out on audio and thought the moms of 8-12 year old girls would like to consider it for their visually impaired kids. It's about being the new kid at school and trying to make friends - a universal theme that any child goes through. It's an upbeat story. You can listen to a sample of it on amazon.com - it's called PALMETTO PRINCESSES by Susan Connell. Merry Christmas, Susan Connell authorsusanconnell@gmail.com

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Jeneleen Tan - posted on 03/20/2013

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I want a private school for my son whose diagnose with ROP his 1year old,prefer near here at my place

Krista WatersEnter Your Full - posted on 08/19/2012

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I also feel that at the blind schools you have more of an opportunety for mobility, independent living skills, and recriation.

Amy - posted on 08/12/2010

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I went to Overbrook School for the blind. Back then they dealt with Blind and deaf students. Now it is multi handicapped as well as blind. It was a ver good school. It had it's up and down. They had three or 4 students up to ten in a class. They could give more one on one time that some may need that I did. Some students were mentally retarded as well. No matter what if you put your child in that setting. Do it while they are yound. If you not do it when they are young you will have problems. I have seen children come in their teens or so and it was hard on them. Their behavior was horrible and they resented their parents for not putting them in sooner. That is very imortand. I was 5 so I ajusted well. I stayed during the wekk and came home on weekends. I am so glad I was there and not in a class of 100 or more. Maybe not seeing the chalk board or something. Hope this is helpful.

Sonja - posted on 12/06/2009

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There are pros and cons to both, depending upon the particular School for the Blind you are looking into. Some are better than others. Some cater to a particular type of blind student meaning students with multiple disabilities that are not necessarily academic and those that have blindness as their only disability and are very academic. Some have a full-fledged school on campus and some do not. The students in the second kind of school go to the local public schools part-time for academics and are on the School for the Blind site part-time for their specialized skills (braille, orientation & mobility, technology). The socialization with other students who are blind can be a wonderful experience and a great reason for choosing to go to a School for the Blind. Also, the skills they can build in braille, orientation & mobility, and technology can be more extensive at a School for the Blind.

Going to a public school can be a positive experience, too, especially if the specialists working with your child are really on top of it and make sure all the accommodations are in place for your child. Your child will learn to advocate and learn how to socialize in a sighted world. However, it will be more challenging because of being in a sighted world and not having others who are blind to collaborate with.

I hope this helps.

Julia - posted on 09/23/2009

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That all depends on what is important to you. What type of diploma track are you on? Is your local public school (open to V/I) offering the assistance needed willingly or with resistance? What are you looking for in social activities (sports, student counsel, clubs)? What assistive technology do you want your child to have? I think the most important question is can you stand to have your child away from you all week an only see him/her on the weekends? After you have answered these questions then I could answer you on what I think would be best for you. My son has been in both public school and FSDB. There are pros and cons on both sides and like I said it all depends on what's important to you. Julia Adkins

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