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Giving Tuesday

Just What Does Working with Our Little Learners Look Like?

Just What Does Working with Our Little Learners Look Like?

A little girl wearing glasses plays on a toy piano

Our Little Learners staff serve blind babies, from ages 0 to 3, and their families. We want to tell you a bit more about the amazing work they do.
 
Early Childhood Blind & Low Vision Specialists are out in the community, providing services to blind babies and their families in their homes, and community areas such as parks, libraries, and daycare. They often go to the ophthalmologist with families to help them understand what the doctor is saying and make sure they get their questions answered. They discuss with parents what their baby’s vision diagnosis and what for the baby’s education. 
 
The Specialist is also part of the baby’s education team. Each baby has a Individual Family Service Plan that outlines all the services the baby is receiving, assessments that have been done, and the outcomes the education team will be working on during each six-month period. The Specialist identifies the next steps for a baby to work on. For example, if a baby is working with a Speech Therapist, the Specialist may determine the baby needs high-contrast icons to work with or tactile objects.
 
Our Regional Coordinators cover four regions: North, East, South and Central Valley. Each region has a Regional Center with its own way of doing things.
 
The Regional Coordinator is also a blind and low vision specialist. They lead the Little Learners staff who work in that region, coordinate referrals that come in, track caseloads, and work with school districts.
 
Some of the most crucial work of the Regional Coordinator includes direct outreach in the local community by attending local events such as community roundtables. They build relationships with the people who refer blind babies to the Little Learners program, such as doctors.
 
Overseeing the team is our Program Director Pam Chapin who is herself a blind and low vision specialist. Pam tracks state regulations, evaluates areas that need services, determines any staffing changes that are needed and communicates with community partners and other LightHouse departments for programming.
 
Pam also happens to be the Regional Coordinator for the South Bay and had this to say about serving in that role:

“I like that I still work with families. I think it keeps me connected to what we’re doing, and it keeps my skills honed. The work is why we’re here.”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners Mom: Maisara’s Story

Little Learners Mom: Maisara’s Story

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Maisara:

“My son was only several months old when he was diagnosed with a visual impairment. I was devastated when I found out and feeling hopeless. Then I got connected to Little Learners Specialist Elizabeth. Elizabeth taught me helpful skills like baby massage to help my son with his body awareness – this also helps me bond with him as well. When Elizabeth comes to our home, she does fun activities with my son that engages and strengthens his fine motor skills and sensory awareness.

“In addition to our home sessions, after every ophthalmology appointment my son has, Elizabeth goes over the doctor’s summary report with me and explains what the doctor is saying since I don’t understand the medical terms. She also assessed our home environment and helped us make it more accessible for my son.

“I don’t know what I’d do without Elizabeth! She knows when I am feeling overwhelmed and helps bring a sense of calmness and peace to me. Her insight, advice, and expertise are invaluable. My family is so lucky to be able to receive these services from LightHouse Little Learners to help us navigate life and figure things out for my son and our family.”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners Mom: Jackie’s Story

Little Learners Mom: Jackie’s Story

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Jackie:

“My 16-month-old son was born with bilateral microphthalmia and was diagnosed recently with optic nerve hypoplasia. We are so very grateful for Little Learners and our LL Specialist Kristi, who has pretty much become part of our family. My son loves Kristi and when he hears her voice, he gets very excited.

“The medical appointment support that Kristi provides is so important. Kristi asks questions that I forget to ask (or don’t know to ask) during my son’s ophthalmology appointments. She also provides me with helpful resources such as a beginner’s guide for parents about learning Braille as well as raising a child who has a visual impairment.

“My son and I look forward to the weekly Little Learners Sensory Playgroup Kristi leads which features different topics and activities such as body awareness through music and movement, creating a Braille cell by placing eggs into a muffin tin, and exploring concepts of fast and slow movement and sound by comparing different sound shakers. In addition to being so much fun, the Little Learners Playgroup has been a source of additional support for me as I have gotten to meet other parents who share a similar journey of raising a child who is blind or has low vision. Kristi has taught me how to best support my son as he learns about the world around him and has shown me strategies and tips on how to motivate him.”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners Mom: Meg’s Story

Little Learners Mom: Meg’s Story

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Meg:

“Our 18-month-old daughter has CHARGE syndrome and we got connected to LightHouse Little Learners through our local regional center. Having a child who has a visual impairment and several disabilities, my husband and I had no idea how to help our daughter or how her growth and development would be impacted.

“Our Little Learners Specialist Gail has helped our child and our family so much that we consider her our guardian angel. She partners with our daughter’s Physical Therapist and makes recommendations about play-based activities that will improve her visual development. We were originally told by the doctor that our daughter basically doesn’t have an optic nerve and that was terribly difficult to hear.  But Gail was very encouraging and has so much knowledge and experience from her decades of working with young children who are blind or have low vision. She gave me and my husband tips and suggestions on how to help our daughter learn, play and thrive. 

“Gail gives us peace of mind and is an incredible partner to help us navigate this journey with our daughter.  Since Gail has been working with our daughter, she is now able to use her existing vision to see things, do things and reach for her toys and other objects.  Having Gail in our corner to educate us, empower us , and encourage us has been life-changing.  My family is so fortunate to be able to receive these services from LightHouse Little Learners to help us navigate life and figure things out for our daughter and our family. ­Little Learners Mom Meg”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners Mom: Amalia’s Story

Little Learners Mom: Amalia’s Story

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Amalia:

“Our daughter was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia and we got connected to Little Learners through the regional center. Our family has been very grateful for the services and support we have received from our Little Learners Specialist Cristina. Cristina has taught me and my husband how to help our toddler discover the world around her by making sure our home environment was set up appropriately and how to engage with her through tactile and sensory activities. Cristina would also go with us to doctor’s appointments to help us understand what the doctor was telling us about our daughter’s diagnosis and treatment.

“Before being in the Little Learners program, our daughter wasn’t grabbing or holding onto objects, we couldn’t get her to look at anything, and she would cry a lot. With Cristina’s expert guidance and caring support, our daughter is developing so well and doing so many things nowadays. She is very attentive, very happy, very curious, looks at people and objects, turns the pages in her books, and tries to do a lot of things with her hands. We are so grateful to be in the Little Learners program and especially grateful for Cristina.”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners: Mom Amanda and Dad Hunter’s Story

Little Learners: Mom Amanda and Dad Hunter’s Story

 

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Amanda and Dad, Hunter:

“Our toddler has minimal vision and wears a pacemaker, so having our Little Learners Specialist Jeri in our lives has been not only life-changing but life-saving. Jeri helps us navigate the overwhelming at times and celebrates the triumphs with us at other times. Jeri’s warm and comforting presence, combined with her guidance and support makes us feel like everything is all-doable.

“Having Jeri’s decades-long expertise, knowledge and experience helping young children who have a visual impairment has been a game-changer. We have learned so much about how our daughter’s vision loss impacts her growth and development. Jeri has also taught us how to be our daughter’s advocate with the medical and educational systems to ensure that our child accesses the best possible care and services.

“Jeri also coaches us on how to motivate our daughter to try new things, new activities and new experiences like Little Learners Family Camp held at LightHouse’s Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa. The population of families raising a child who is blind or visually impaired is not a large one so Little Learners Family Camp was such an important experience for our family. We got to meet other families and bond over challenges overcome, successes celebrated and lessons learned. We especially loved getting to talk with camp counselors who shared with us the blindness services/resources they benefitted from.

“Little Learners is truly a fantastic program for infants and toddlers, but we have to tell you that it is truly the best resource for parents!”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners Mom: Amy’s Story

Little Learners Mom: Amy’s Story

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Amy:

“Our son was diagnosed with achromatopsia as an infant. His visual impairment is a genetic disorder in which the cones of his retina are not functioning so it makes him very photophobic. Our son also has nystagmus (abnormal eye movement), no color vision and very little depth perception.

“Our family is so lucky to receive services from Little Learners! Our Little Learners Specialist Gail has experience working with young children who have achromatopsia, which is awesome because it’s such a rare condition. Gail provides us with support at our son’s ophthalmologist appointments- she asks questions that we wouldn’t know to ask. She also helped us with getting our son the right type of glasses and tints.

“Our world is so color-based and Gail has helped us understand that even though our son knows the names of colors, he doesn’t actually see them, that he only sees shades of gray. Since our son doesn’t see depth very well, things like stairs and curbs are very challenging to navigate so Gail taught him to tap with his toes so that he will know there’s a step.

“In addition to teaching my husband and I how to help our son learn about the world around him, Gail has dropped off toys and games that she thought would be helpful with strengthening our son’s vision. She gives us wonderful ideas, great advice and really empowers us to advocate for the best possible care and services for our child within the medical and educational systems”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Little Learners Mom: Shruti’s Story

Little Learners Mom: Shruti’s Story

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, LightHouse is raising money for our Little Learners program, which serves blind and low vision children from ages 0 to 3. We’re sharing stories sent to us by families who have been served by the Little Learners program.

Here is a story from Little Learner’s Mom, Shruti:

“This summer, we had the life-changing experience of attending the Little Learners Family Camp held at LightHouse’s Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa. Our toddler was diagnosed with cerebral visual impairment (CVI) when she was an infant.

“At camp, we got to meet other Little Learners families who have a young child who is blind or has a visual impairment, and hear about they helped their child learn about the world around them. We valued the opportunities to talk with Camp counselors who also were blind and they helped us learn more about CVI and shared about their journeys learning about the world around them and how they got to where they are now.

“There was a sense of community and of belonging as we built new friendships during the Little Learners Family Camp weekend. Camp was such a special and memorable, fun-filled time for our entire family! Our daughter’s favorite activities at Camp were fingerpainting and getting to interact with several dog guides. My husband and my favorite activities were tie-dying shirts and paddle-boating on Lake Lokoya. Most importantly of all, we got to bond as a family, learn from other families and Camp staff and deeply enjoyed experiencing all the camp activities held in the beautiful redwood forest campgrounds.”

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Donate to LightHouse Little Learners today for Giving Tuesday

Donate to LightHouse Little Learners today for Giving Tuesday

 Baby boy is laying down next to ABC Braille blocks. He is wearing a onesie that says "Yes, I'm blind" in print and "and inspirational" in Braille dots

Today is Giving Tuesday! All donations received today will go to our LightHouse Little Learners program! We launched Little Learners just over a year ago, and so far, this program has benefited over 100 families of babies who are blind or have low vision or cerebral visual impairment (CVI) throughout the  Bay Area and Central Valley. 

“My 16-month-old son was born with a visual impairment. We are so very grateful for Little Learners and our LL Specialist Kristi, who has become part of our family. My son loves Kristi and when he hears her voice, he gets very excited!” says Little Learners mom, Jackie.

Our goal is to raise $75,000 for LightHouse Little Learners. To support this wonderful program and help make a difference in a little one’s life, you can make a Giving Tuesday donation to LightHouse Little Learners here or text “littlelearners” to 50155. Let’s make this #GivingTuesday our best one yet!

Make a Giving Tuesday Donation

Donate to LightHouse Little Learners this Giving Tuesday!

November 29 is Giving Tuesday! This year all donations  received on Giving Tuesday will go to our LightHouse Little Learners program! We launched Little Learners just over a year ago, and so far this program has benefited over 100 families of blind, low vision, and cerebral visual impairment (CVI) babies and toddlers throughout the  Bay Area and Central Valley. But don’t just take our word for it! You can read about seven different families’ experiences below. To support this wonderful program and help make a difference in a little one’s life, you can make a Giving Tuesday donation to LightHouse Little Learners here or text “littlelearners” to 50155.

Stories from the Families of LightHouse Little Learners

“Our 18-month-old daughter has CHARGE syndrome and we got connected to LightHouse Little Learners through our local regional center. Having a child who has a visual impairment and several disabilities, my husband and I had no idea how to help our daughter or how her growth and development would be impacted.

“Our Little Learners Specialist Gail has helped our child and our family so much that we consider her our guardian angel. She partners with our daughter’s Physical Therapist and makes recommendations about play-based activities that will improve her visual development. We were originally told by the doctor that our daughter basically doesn’t have an optic nerve and that was terribly difficult to hear.  But Gail was very encouraging and has so much knowledge and experience from her decades of working with young children who are blind or have low vision. She gave me and my husband tips and suggestions on how to help our daughter learn, play, and thrive. 

“Gail gives us peace of mind and is an incredible partner to help us navigate this journey with our daughter.  Since Gail has been working with our daughter, she is now able to use her existing vision to see things, do things and reach for her toys and other objects.  Having Gail in our corner to educate us, empower us, and encourage us has been life changing.  My family is so fortunate to be able to receive these services from LightHouse Little Learners to help us navigate life and figure things out for our daughter and our family.” ­

– Little Learners Mom Meg

Photo 1:8-month-old baby girl sits on a bed and is smiling

Photo 2: Mom and baby smile in matching black cat Halloween costumes

Photo 3: Family portrait of Mom holding LightHouse Little Learner in her lap and Dad sits with two boys in a garden

“This summer, we had the life-changing experience of attending the Little Learners Family Camp held at LightHouse’s Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa.  Our toddler was diagnosed with cerebral visual impairment (CVI) when she was an infant. 

 

“At camp, we got to meet other Little Learners families who have a young child who is blind or has a visual impairment and hear about they helped their child learn about the world around them.  We valued the opportunities to talk with camp counselors who also were blind, and they helped us learn more about CVI and shared about their journeys learning about the world around them and how they got to where they are now.

“There was a sense of community and of belonging as we built new friendships during the Little Learners Family Camp weekend.  Camp was such a special and memorable, fun-filled time for our entire family!  Our daughter’s favorite activities at camp were finger-painting and getting to interact with several guides dogs. My husband and my favorite activities were tie-dying shirts and paddle-boating on Lake Lokoya. Most importantly of all, we got to bond as a family, learn from other families and camp staff and deeply enjoyed experiencing all the camp activities held in the beautiful redwood forest campgrounds.”

– Little Learners Mom Shruti

Photo 1: LightHouse Little Learner sits in between her parents on a peddle boat at EHC

Photo 2: Mom hands her daughter a paintbrush with pink paint on it

Photo 3: Dad sits at a picnic table holding his daughter and smiling

 

“My son was only several months old when he was diagnosed with a visual impairment. I was devastated when I found out and feeling hopeless. Then I got connected to Little Learners Specialist Elizabeth. Elizabeth taught me helpful skills like baby massage to help my son with his body awareness – this also helps me bond with him as well. When Elizabeth comes to our home, she does fun activities with my son that engages and strengthens his fine motor skills and sensory awareness.

“In addition to our home sessions, after every ophthalmology appointment my son has, Elizabeth goes over the doctor’s summary report with me and explains what the doctor is saying since I don’t understand the medical terms.  She also assessed our home environment and helped us make it more accessible for my son.

“I don’t know what I’d do without Elizabeth! She knows when I am feeling overwhelmed and helps bring a sense of calmness and peace to me.  Her insight, advice, and expertise are invaluable. My family is so lucky to be able to receive these services from LightHouse Little Learners to help us navigate life and figure things out for my son and our family.”  

– Little Learners Mom Mais

Photo 1: Little Learner  Specialist, Elizabeth, sits on the floor with her student and holds a sensory board up to the little boy

Photo 2: Little Learner is exploring a bag of bright blue shapes on a light-up board

Photo 3: Elizabeth and the little boy play with sensory toys

 

“My 16-month-old son was born with bilateral microphthalmia and was diagnosed recently with optic nerve hypoplasia. We are so very grateful for Little Learners and our LL Specialist Kristi, who has pretty much become part of our family. My son loves Kristi and when he hears her voice, he gets very excited. 

“The medical appointment support that Kristi provides is so important.  Kristi asks questions that I forget to ask (or don’t know to ask) during my son’s ophthalmology appointments.  She also provides me with helpful resources such as a beginner’s guide for parents about learning Braille as well as raising a child who has a visual impairment. 

“My son and I look forward to the weekly Little Learners Sensory Playgroup Kristi leads which features different topics and activities such as body awareness through music and movement, creating a Braille cell by placing eggs into a muffin tin, and exploring concepts of fast and slow movement and sound by comparing different sound shakers. In addition to being so much fun, the Little Learners Playgroup has been a source of additional support for me as I have gotten to meet other parents who share a similar journey of raising a child who is blind or has low vision. Kristi has taught me how to best support my son as he learns about the world around him and has shown me strategies and tips on how to motivate him.” 

– Little Learners Mom Jackie

Photo 1: Little Learner is laying next to Braille ABC blocks and is wearing a onesie that says “Yes, I’m Blind” in print and in Braille dots

Photo 2: Mom holds 16-month-old baby boy’s hands as he stands at a pumpkin patch

 

“Our daughter was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, and we got connected to Little Learners through the regional center. Our family has been very grateful for the services and support we have received from our Little Learners Specialist Cristina.  Cristina has taught me and my husband how to help our toddler discover the world around her by making sure our home environment was set up appropriately and how to engage with her through tactile and sensory activities.  Cristina would also go with us to doctor’s appointments to help us understand what the doctor was telling us about our daughter’s diagnosis and treatment. 

“Before being in the Little Learners program, our daughter wasn’t grabbing or holding onto objects, we couldn’t get her to look at anything, and she would cry a lot.  With Cristina’s expert guidance and caring support, our daughter is developing so well and doing so many things nowadays. She is very attentive, very happy, very curious, looks at people and objects, turns the pages in her books, and tries to do a lot of things with her hands. We are so grateful to be in the Little Learners program and especially grateful for Cristina.” 

– Little Learners Mom Amalia

Photo 1: A family portrait of Dad holding Little Learner, Mom and big brother stand beside them at a park

Photo 2: Baby girl sits wearing a pink top with a rainbow and pink glasses, she has a pink bow in her curly hair

 

“Our toddler has minimal vision and wears a pacemaker, so having our Little Learners Specialist Jeri in our lives has been not only life-changing but lifesaving. Jeri helps us navigate the overwhelming at times and celebrates the triumphs with us at other times.  Jeri’s warm and comforting presence, combined with her guidance and support makes us feel like everything is all-doable. 

“Having Jeri’s decades-long expertise, knowledge and experience helping young children who have a visual impairment has been a game-changer.  We have learned so much about how our daughter’s vision loss impacts her growth and development. Jeri has also taught us how to be our daughter’s advocate with the medical and educational systems to ensure that our child accesses the best possible care and services. 

“Jeri also coaches us on how to motivate our daughter to try new things, new activities and new experiences like Little Learners Family Camp held at LightHouse’s Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa.  The population of families raising a child who is blind or visually impaired is not a large one so Little Learners Family Camp was such an important experience for our family. We got to meet other families and bond over challenges overcome, successes celebrated, and lessons learned. We especially loved getting to talk with camp counselors who shared with us the blindness services/resources they benefited from. 

“Little Learners is truly a fantastic program for infants and toddlers, but we have to tell you that it is truly the best resource for parents!” 

­Little Learners Mom Amanda and Dad Hunter

Photo 1: Dad and Little Learner look at different plants on a light-up board

Photo 2: Little Learner sits with Mom and Dad on the couch and is holding a paper crown

Photo 3: Mom and daughter pose together at Enchanted  Hills Camp, Little Learner is holding a stuffed animal

 

“Our son was diagnosed with achromatopsia as an infant. His visual impairment is a genetic disorder in which the cones of his retina are not functioning, so it makes him very photophobic.  Our son also has nystagmus (abnormal eye movement), no color vision and very little depth perception. 

Our family is so lucky to receive services from Little Learners! Our Little Learners Specialist Gail has experience working with young children who have achromatopsia, which is awesome because it’s such a rare condition. Gail provides us with support at our son’s ophthalmologist appointments- she asks questions that we wouldn’t know to ask.  She also helped us with getting our son the right type of glasses and tints. 

Our world is so color-based and Gail has helped us understand that even though our son knows the names of colors, he doesn’t actually see them, that he only sees shades of gray.  Since our son doesn’t see depth very well, things like stairs and curbs are very challenging to navigate so Gail taught him to tap with his toes so that he will know there’s a step.  

In addition to teaching my husband and I how to help our son learn about the world around him, Gail has dropped off toys and games that she thought would be helpful with strengthening our son’s vision. She gives us wonderful ideas, great advice and really empowers us to advocate for the best possible care and services for our child within the medical and educational systems.” 

– Little Learners Mom Amy

Photo 1: LightHouse Little Learner sits outside in his pajamas and roasts a marshmallow at a campfire

Photo 2: Toddler boy stands in between Dad and Mom and is smiling

Photo 3: Little Learner climbs a tree and has a big smile on his face

To make a Giving Tuesday donation, click here  or text “littlelearners” to 50155.