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One Step at a Time: My Daughter at 20

A mother from the Philippines shares the story of her daughter's progress from a young child with MDVI (multiple disabilities and visual impairment) to a young adult who is learning to be independent in the world.

Linda Choy is the mother of a young woman with MDVI in the Philippines.

It has been 7 years since I wrote about Kara, who for a long time struggled with reading and writing braille, until she found that braille could help her reach out to her friend “Misha” in Malaysia.  Read my earlier post Kara’s Turning Point in Learning Braille: A Story from the Philippines.

Kara is now 20 years old.  While she can read and write braille adequately, her academic skills are limited.  Though we would love to have her proceed to high school and college, we know deep down that this is not for her.  Instead, we try to look for things that will make her happy.

Learning to Bake

Lately she is into baking.  Last May, she joined a baking class in Edsa Shangrila Mall, where she learned to make mango floats, bake cheese muffins and chocolate cookies.  This 2 day event was spearheaded by Teacher Ami Tango of Perkins International, and All About Baking, a premier supply store of baking needs.  Chef Candice Tong of Icings Bakery and Café shared her expertise with the class, where 8 students with visual impairments, together with their mothers, attended.

Kara stirring batter in a bowl Kara stands by the oven while her goods cook.

Becoming a Business Woman

Kara thoroughly enjoyed the class.  She looked forward to the sweet goodies at the end of the classes.  Since it was something she loved doing, she worked without complaint.  At home, we coerced her to practice.  We encouraged her to “earn a living’ by selling muffins.  She is a natural!  She would offer her goods to everyone she met, with this script:  “Sir Willy, I am now a business woman.  Please buy from me cheese muffins. They are delicious!”  Most people gladly oblige, as they are amazed by how much she has improved.  Her muffins are delicious, but her winning smile is the big push!

Kara holding a tray with her baked goods

While she is still generous, she values her business too.  One night, busy packing her muffins for delivery, I asked her to share some muffins to her “Ate” who helped her bake.  She gingerly quipped, “How about my selling?”  This girl has business sense!  We showed her the money (in paper bills) from her sales, but she preferred “coins”, as sounds make her happy☺ .  The business side is minimum, but the benefits are priceless!

Using Functional Math Skills

Kara can memorize multiplication tables well, but she does not understand counting, addition, or subtraction.  With her baking, she fetches 4 eggs from the fridge, pours a cup of milk in the mixture, and measures cups of flour for her recipes, accurately.  Applying mathematics in a practical way, she learns faster.

Increased Independent Living Skills

With her new found “career”, she is more confident, more purposeful, and more patient.  Her self-care skills have improved significantly.  She does her daily tasks willingly, and religiously.  These include making her bed, dressing, taking laundry baskets to the laundry, bringing trash cans to the kitchen, picking up her daddy’s socks, newspapers from his room, washing dishes, setting the table, and folding towels. 

Kara goes to SPED in P. Gomez Elementary School Transition Program, where she mingles with children with different types of special needs (autism, Down Syndrome, Learning Disabilities etc.).  She has follow up in braille with her SPED teacher, Mam Siena Capistrano.  Aside from school, she goes to the gym, swims, plays the organ, and, now, spends much time baking.  She does not have time for tantrums!

Learning Happens When It Is Meaningful

Not every child can be a scholar, an engineer, an accountant, or a lawyer.  Learning happens when it is comprehensible, meaningful and enjoyable.  It holds true for a typical child, as much as for a MDVI (multiply disabled visually impaired) person like Kara.  For her, baking is joyful and rewarding.  Her whole person thrives because she finds purpose and pleasure in what she does.  Being Kara’s mom, I learn patience, and I find happiness in the littlest thing she achieves.  She has taught me well.

Collage of One Step at a Time

Uno braille playing cards with large print
Activity and strategy

Games for Students with Visual Impairments

Student making orange juice with a teacher using a juicing machine.
Activity and strategy

Non-Visual Multi-Sensory Experiences for Students with Multiple Disabilities


Openings for Cal State ExCEL Academy This Fall!