NC ELSSP-VI Newsletter

March 2016

Each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments

March Quote

Every job is a SELF-PORTRAIT of the person who does it. Autograph your work with EXCELLENCE.

-Author Unknown


Student Pictures Submitted by NC ELSSP-VI Staff

Professional Development Submitted by Lin Causey

Easter Egg Hunt Submitted by Dee Martin

iPad 'Appiness Submitted by Becky Lowery

The Benefits of Crawling & Climbing (O & M) Submitted by Nancy Kirby-Sauls via

Need a Play Refresher...and/or CEU's Submitted by Angel Wallace

Book Angel Program

Staff Birthdays

March's Marvelous Student Submitted by Heather Lister

Director's Spotlight Submitted by Bethany Mayo

Professional Development Opportunities

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North Carolina Early Learning Network (NC-ELN)

The North Carolina Early Learning Network, funded by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), provides early learning communities with professional development and technical assistance to support preschool children with disabilities and their families through the vision of DPI's Office of Early Learning "Each child is honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life."

Be sure to check out the resources, events and training modules on this site.


Working with Parents with Mental Health Challenges

March 17, 2016

Edwin W. Monroe AHEC Conference Center
Greenville, NC

School counselors, social workers, and clinicians work with students whose learning and development are affected by a variety of factors. This workshop focuses on families where a parent has a mental health challenge. We’ll explore how parental depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and psychotic disorders can affect parenting. We’ll review the research on effective and promising practices.

We’ll consider what school based-clinicians can do with an emphasis on engaging parents, increasing family communication, decreasing the child’s self-blame, and increasing other protective factors. We’ll spend time in role plays practicing engagement and intervention skills with parents and their children. We’ll also review resources to support families who have been affected by parental mental health challenges.

View Brochure | Register Online


The 2016 Inclusion Institute Pre-Institute Workshops

The Inclusion Institute is sold out, but you can still register to attend one of four Pre-Institute Workshops offered on opening day (Tuesday, May 10) from 9:00 a.m. until noon. The $100 registration fee includes a continental breakfast starting at 8:00 a.m., lunch at noon, and all workshop materials. Each Pre-Institute Workshop is limited to 40 people. You can register below, regardless of whether you are attending the rest of the Institute.

The four concurrent sessions for 2016 are:

1. Attitude Makes the Difference--And It's Not Easy.

Presenter: Sandra Petersen

“Our teachers don’t have the special training.” “We don’t have enough people.” “We don’t want to harm the child.” There are lots of reasons teachers believe they can’t do inclusion but the biggest barrier is the attitude of the adults involved. This workshop provides a series of activities and reflections to stimulate your own thinking and/or to use in professional development. These experiences help adults discover the source of their own resistance to inclusion and to appreciate welcoming one child at a time.

Register for this Workshop

2. Child Motivation and Engagement: Improving Classroom Management

Presenter: Adam Holland

The first part of the workshop will focus largely on problems with how old ideas still play out in classrooms today (e.g., through sticker charts or card charts). Dr. Holland will also discuss a more current understanding of motivation called self-determination theory and will explore some of its practical applications—especially for classroom management, particularly improving student engagement and decreasing teacher stress. The second part of the workshop will address such topics as tattling, bathroom time, lining up, aligning with PBIS, persistent misbehavior, and behavior plans. Participants also will have time and opportunities to raise and discuss issues.

Register for this Workshop

3. Preschool Inclusion: Building Competence and Confidence to Include Everyone and Exclude No One

Presenters: Barbara Smith, Rosemarie Allen, Tracie Dickson, Mary Louise Hemmeter

Inclusion means welcoming and meeting the needs of all children including those with challenging behavior and children from racially, culturally and language diverse families. The recent US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education Joint Policy Statement calls for national attention to the epidemic of preschool expulsion and suspension and the related racial and gender disparities in these practices.

This workshop will focus on building the vision, leadership, competence and confidence to include and meet the needs of all children and families. Resources and evidence-based practices will be presented on how to increase inclusion of children with challenging behavior and eliminate expulsion, suspension and racial bias through the use of the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence of Infants and Young Children and other culturally responsive practices. Specifically, participants will learn about an approach that embeds the Pyramid Model practices and other culturally responsive practices. Participants will develop action plans for their programs.

Register for this Workshop

4. Roadmaps for Authentic Assessment: Using Coaching to Support IFSP Development

Presenters: M’Lisa Shelden and Dathan Rush

As a Service Coordinator or EI practitioner, would you like to learn about a new tool to support you in using coaching on initial visits to enhance family engagement in developing the IFSP? As a family member, would you like to learn more about how you can participate in the assessment process? If so, this pre-institute workshop is for you! Drs. Rush and Shelden will focus on how to use coaching roadmaps to assess child participation in real-life routines. This session will be especially helpful for all involved in pre-IFSP assessment with a focus on learning how to use coaching to support authentic assessment in early intervention.

FULL: Waiting List Only

Spring EGGSplosion 2016

A Beeping Egg Hunt for the Visually Impaired

April 9, 2016 from 10 am to noon At the Governor Morehead School for the Blind 301 Ashe Avenue Raleigh, NC Register by April 2nd at:

or by calling 919-469-8879

Hosted by: The Winston-Salem Police Department Bomb Squad and the NC Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

Come and Experience the Beeping Egg Hunt, an egg hunt for blind and visually impaired children, adults and their families. Enjoy fun activities provided by community organizations that provide services to children with visual impairments.

Can't come to Raleigh? Find a Beeping Egg Hunt in your city:

March 19, 10 am – noon: Winston-Salem Spring EGGSplosion

Reynolda Village (2201 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC)

March 19, 11 am – 1 pm: First Annual Kings Mountain EGGstravaganza

YMCA Walking Track - Kings Mountain N.C.

For information Contact Larry Carroll 704-648-8959

Saturday April 16, 2016 10:00-12:00 – Asheville Spring EGGSplosion

Vance Elementary (98 Sulphur Springs Road, Asheville, NC)

iPad 'Appiness

Maybe some of you have heard of OSMO, a terribly cool device that hooks to your iPad and enables kids to do all sorts of things with it. I was fortunate enough to have one of my old families “gift” me an OSMO, through a special program that gives a teacher an OSMO when a family buys one. Basically, the OSMO uses the camera in your iPad to give feedback while the child is interacting with an OSMO app by drawing, playing with tangram pieces, numbers, or letters. The kit I received contained a set of letters and tangram pieces, which work with apps called “Words” and “Tangram” . I also have access to an app called “Masterpiece”, a drawing app that involves drawing on actual paper, and works a little like a CCTV (which can come in very handy for some of our older low vision preschoolers). I invested in the “Numbers” set, which has number pieces from 0-9, as well as dice pieces labeled with dots 1, 2, and 5. The Words app is over the head of probably the majority of our students, so I have not used that one yet. However, my older preschoolers have absolutely loved Tangram, Masterpiece, and Numbers. It is a little difficult to describe, and I believe I will probably be talking about the OSMO for one of our staff meetings in the future. Below are some pictures with some descriptions of what is happening.

Tangram App

With the Tangram app, a picture is shown on the screen and then the student moves actual tangram pieces into place in front of the iPad. When a piece is in the correct position, the piece on the screen changes from just an outline to a fully colored shape. Guidance is given at the bottom of the screen by hands that demonstrate how to put the pieces in place.


With Masterpiece, a picture can be chosen from a set of several “coloring” pages, or a picture can be taken and used as the backdrop for the drawing. The marker is on the paper but is also matched up to lines on the screen. With some practice, some pretty intricate drawings can be created. I have used this app to practice drawing shapes, as well as letters for two low vision preschoolers who may need to use a CCTV later in school. Being able to look at the screen while writing is a skill that they will actually need.


Numbers is an app that builds on age and educational level. The app starts out with a great little “gold fish” game, in which zapping numbers above the water sets food and toys free for the gold fish. The player places the dice squares on the paper in front of the iPad, which add up to number bubbles that need to be zapped. At this level, numbers only go up to 6, so this is a great app for our preschoolers who are learning to count.

I’m still playing around with my OSMO apps, and trying to find other ways for our students to benefit from this device. If you’re interested in an OSMO, the basic starter kit is $79.28 on Amazon. This includes the base and camera set up, WORDS, TANGRAMS, and access to MASTERPIECE and another game, NEWTON. Numbers can be purchased for $29.99 on Amazon. The entire Genius Kit, which includes everything, is $99.99 on Amazon.

The Benefits of Crawling and Climbing

Crawling and climbing are two very important physical developmental milestones for babies and children who are blind. Some babies may skip these steps or reach them later than their typically developing peers, but there are many ways you can encourage crawling and climbing.

The Benefits of Crawling

While it is common for children who are blind to bypass crawling it is also common for them to achieve this milestone with a period of intensive intervention, and it is considered important for several reasons. A significant period of crawling is thought to have extra benefits for children with severe visual impairments because it:

• Increases upper body strength and shoulder girdle stability for critical VI and O&M skills later (e.g., operating Braillers, keyboards, and other equipment, using various types of doors independently, and using mobility devices and long canes effectively).

• Provides exposure to everyday textures and surfaces, thereby increasing tactile tolerance and discrimination.

• Provides weight bearing across the palms for improved grasp and manipulation of objects. This is important for pre-Braille, Braille, and other early literacy skills, as well.

Also, experience crawling up and down steps and single depth changes (e.g., curbs, landscape timbers, etc.) provides hands-on tactile, kinesthetic, and spatial experiences with vertical space, resulting in greater understanding and confidence when asked to walk up and down the same. In addition, teaching crawling up and down simple steps (with close supervision) often provides the child with the safest method of negotiating them independently.

Why I Love to Crawl & Climb! (as explained by Gus)

Hey! I'm Gus and I am 17 months old. I'm here to tell you about my new discovery... stairs! You should see me zip up and down. Mom stays right beside me and makes sure I do it safely. At first, I didn't have a clue about what they were like, since I can see only a little bit of sunshine, but she showed them to me every day. I sat on the wood floor at the bottom of the stairs, while she sat on the first step beside me. We played a game of crawling in and out of her lap. A couple of days later she was placing my favorite Elmo toy on the step, and I went right after it since I was beginning to feel brave. Pretty soon I figured out how to climb up two steps on my hands and feet. Wowee! This was fun – a whole new world to explore!

I heard Mom say, "Yikes!" and I knew she was planning to watch me very carefully now that I had it figured out. When I try to stand up on the stairs she reminds me to go back to my hands and feet (or hands and knees.) Such a clever gal! She also showed me how to go down the steps feet first on my tummy. I tell you, she gets smarter every day! She even knows to block the stairs with her body when we're playing "climb the mountain" so I can only go up and down the first 2 or 3 steps. Best of all, she or Dad always puts up that baby gate to keep me off the stairs altogether when they cannot be right with me.

Dad and I do other climbing games during our "tumble time" before dinner. We wrestle and roll all over the floor, and I climb on and off of him. Sometimes he helps me climb up on the couch for a tickle game, or climb down (feet first-tummy down) to stand and "hop on pop!" It's really fun to climb over a lumpy obstacle course of couch cushions and Dad. Mom helps with this part.

I can't wait 'til spring time when Dad says we'll explore the front steps. And, guess what! I heard him and Mom talking about putting a little climber in the back yard this summer. Well, wait a sec! I guess now I'm a little climber, too!

The Benefits of Climbing

• Increases tactile tolerance and discrimination skills.

• Increases upper body strength.

• Provides spatial concepts of steps and stairs through hands-on exploration.

• Increases understanding and confidence in preparation for negotiating steps in walking.

• Provides the safest method of independent (supervised) negotiation of steps and stairs, prior to the onset of stable walking up and down the same.

By Susan Shier Lowry, M.Ed., COMS, CTVI

Need a Play Refresher...and/or CEU's

Several years ago, I found myself at the end of the line and in need of a couple CEU’s so I decided to take the Hadley course “Learning through Play”.

It is seven assignments that are completed independently and submitted to the instructor. The first lesson identifies the types, benefits and why play is important to the visually impaired child. The second focuses on eye conditions and the considerations that may affect their play. Lessons three through five will break down the age groups, development, and how their play changes during that time. While lesson six will look at how to locate a play area and integrate toys that include family and peers into the play environment. The last lesson looks at how we can choose, adapt toys, and examines the benefits of homemade toys.

The course is designed for professionals that are working with the birth-to-five age group with visual impairments. It may be an interesting course for teachers who are coming from the K-12 programs or those of us who just want a “refresher” to confirm that we are still doing our job the best way to help the children reach their developmental milestones. We all know that ALL children LEARN through PLAY!

If you are interested, you can find more information at and click Hadley School for Professional Studies to search the course listings. Good Luck and Happy Learning

Book Angel Program New and Improved

Seedlings Braille Books for Children has expanded it's Book Angel Program this year. "This program is new and improved! Now each visually-impaired child (0-21) in the US and Canada can receive 3 free braille books through this program! (Please re-register each year.)"

March Staff Birthdays

Karen Beijer March 18th

March's Marvelous Student

Averie is a five year old preschool student who lives in the eastern part of the state. Averie has been receiving services from the ELSSP/VI Program since she was a few months old. Averie's ELSSP/VI teacher is Heather Lister. Averie has grown so much in such a short amount of time that Ms. Heather felt it was only fitting that she be March's Marvelous Student. Averie is learning Braille and has taken off with it. When asked what dots form the letter "c", Averie will say, "Dots 1 and 4". She can do this for every letter a-k. She is not yet reading Braille but is working hard towards this goal. She loves books and particularly enjoys the "That's not my ..." series by Usborne Books. Averie likes for Ms. Heather to read it to her one time while she tactually explores it, then she likes to read it back to Ms. Heather several times. Averie loves "The Braille Rap Song" from APH and music in general. Averie attends a NC PreK class and has a one on one assistant who practices Braille with Averie all of the time (and it's definitely paying off). Averie's mother also reinforces Braille with her at home and makes sure she has Braille books to "read". Averie began taking dance class this past fall and will have her first recital in the spring. Ms. Heather can't wait to see Averie perform!

Director's Spotlight

By: Bethany Mayo, Director ELSSP-VI

Joy Fleming

Joy Fleming lives in Waxhaw, NC with her husband of 41 years, Bill, and their rescue dog, Tasha. They have 3 daughters - Iris, Molly and Grace, who live nearby, and two grandchildren, Ethan and Chloe. Joy's husband, Bill, is the Director of Pastoral Studies at Charlotte Christian College and Theological Seminary and interim pastor at Rogers Memorial Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, SC. She keeps busy with work, church and home. In her spare time she reads and takes walks with Tasha.

Joy has a bachelor's degree in History, Secondary Education and a Master's degree in Elementary Education. In the late 80s- early '90s, while working on her Master's Degree, she was introduced to a vision program for teachers in Florida, where they were living at that time. So, she finished her Master's degree with research on Cortical Visual Impairment and worked on add-on certification in vision. (I had a great advisor who let me do this by emphasizing how CVI impacted a CVI elementary student!) She began her career as a vision teacher in Florida in 1989. A few years later, the family moved to South Carolina and Joy worked with the SC Preschool program as part of the SCSDB's (South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind) outreach program. She worked for a couple of years as the TVI teacher for Lancaster, SC and then moved to Waxhaw and began to work an as itinerant TVI teacher for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, NC. In 2008, she began to work with Gov. Morehead Preschool Program, which she has greatly enjoyed. In 2010, she completed the program as a National Board Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. And she continues to enjoy working in a program that allows her to "play" with babies every day!

Joy has a wealth of knowledge in the field of visual impairments. She has dedicated the majority of her career to teaching and improving the lives of students who are blind or partially sighted. She is a life long learner and is always finding ways to improve her skill set. Her passion for her students and families is evident in every lesson. Thank you Joy for being the Director’s Spotlight.

Photo Credits