Haylee's mother shares her daughter's story in her own words...
We knew immediately when Haylee was born that there was something different about her eyes, although it took a professional almost 24 hours to tell us the technical name and what the future held for us. We were told shortly after she was born that Haylee probably wouldn't walk or talk until she was about 2-3, she would never see colors, ride a bike, drive a car, and her eyes could possibly need removal. She went into surgery for the first time when she was 2 weeks old and had over 50 surgeries before she was 5.
Haylee walked at 11 months, talked shortly after, knew her colors at about 20 months and was riding her bike without training wheels at age 5. Haylee enjoys playing video games.
When playing Nintendo Haylee sits closer to the screen than a typically sighted child.
Haylee was exposed to print books since birth. She started in a preschool program for visually impaired children early, when she was 2. While she was there for 3 years she was introduced to braille. Although her hands were too small to use a brailler she practiced using it with wooden extensions. She stayed on campus for Kindergarten where she used both print and braille but print being the primary source of her reading and writing. This set her back a year because her need was in braille and not print. We enrolled Haylee in our local school for first grade where she immediately began braille and was able to get caught up to her peers by the end of the year. In 3rd grade, Haylee is working at grade level but she is using a Perkins brailler and a 'Braille and Speak' for all her reading and most of her writing . I think there is a definite need to stress the importance of early exposure to braille. We were definitely fortunate that Haylee was able to catch up and keep up with her peers.
Haylee makes books with her teacher of visually impaired children that contain the contractions she is learning. When using print, she works close to the materials and writes larger than her sighted peers. Haylee's teacher took her to a technology expo and showed her a variety of equipment including the closed circuit television (CCTV) that magnifies images onto a screen.
Read Anna's story.