Family Raising Blind Child Reaches Key Milestone: Early Child Development DVD Shipped to 100 Agencies Worldwide

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A California family is celebrating success this month in its mission to inspire and teach parents and educators. They're sharing how they've learned to let their child’s wild side out, despite her visual impairment caused by extremely premature birth and its complications. An unexpected, shocking event has become an empowering lesson for anyone raising or teaching a child with a disability. http://www.babymilagro.org/dvd.

Exuding confidence with her white cane, Milagro walks to her hotel room at the National Federation of the Blind Convention

"Being able to see a child over time allows for one to observe how the experiences a child has at one point in time influence her development down the line.

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The five year-old girl glides gracefully down the escalator with her long white cane. At the bottom she laughs and says, “That’s so funny” as people watch. For anyone in the train station that night who believed blind people to be dependent and helpless, their attitudes were likely changed by watching this young girl moving independently. Now parents as far away as Tasmania, Australia are watching these images as the child’s family celebrates the shipment of the 100th DVD called “Letting Your Child’s Wild Side Out: Raising the Confident Blind Baby, Toddler and Preschooler.”

When their first child was born at 25 weeks gestation weighing just over a pound, Graciela and Genro Sato could only pray she would live. They chronicled the 137-day hospitalization. They learned to speak Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) lingo to advocate for their daughter’s medical treatment which included multiple surgeries at four different hospitals in two states.

Seven years later, their daughter Milagro enjoys downhill skiing, reads and writes Braille, plays trombone and has developed quite a routine on her family room trapeze, despite living with both blindness and a hearing impairment.

In this unique multimedia DVD, the family shows why it’s critical for families (and educators) to let go of the urge to overprotect children with disabilities. They show the relationship between letting the child master a sense of self-confidence and achievement of early independence. The messages apply widely to families with kids with disabilities and to the larger population that includes many parents who may be overprotecting their typically-developing children.

Viewers see five years of photos and videos of the child as an infant, toddler, preschooler and kindergartner participating in physically challenging activities that greatly aided in her development. They see a child set free to explore movement in a variety of ways. They see her becoming a confident child as she masters physical skills.

Graciela was asked to present to educators and parents at the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH) conference in 2007. Dr. Penny Rosenblum, a professor at the University of Arizona’s department of Special Education, suggested that Grace create a DVD. She knew that families and educators would benefit greatly from this powerful message most effectively delivered by a parent.

Dr. Rosenblum stated, "I am so pleased that we have this DVD to share with families and professionals. It is powerful to see how a child can learn and grow through movement and exploration. Being able to see a child over time allows for one to observe how the experiences a child has at one point in time influence her development down the line. Milagro is a beautiful child with motivated parents."

The DVD has now shipped to 100 agencies and schools in the USA, Canada and Australia. It is cherished by the professionals that use it to motivate families raising children with disabilities into not overprotecting their kids.

Graciela is an educational advocate with Tiscareno-Sato Advocacy Services. She has presented her workshops to educators and parents in Los Angeles and San Francisco, early intervention service providers in Tacoma, the Blind Babies Foundation’s home counselors, the Infant Development Association and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). The NOPBC is the parent division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

The best reward for Milagro's parents comes as feedback from families who've been inspired by the DVD as they raise younger children who are visually impaired. At a recent family camp for families with blind children, Grace met Bonnie, mother of a two year-old boy who is blind.

Grace recalls, “Bonnie recognized Milagro at the pool because her son’s Orientation and Mobility Instructor had shown her the DVD when her baby was six months old. She said that the philosophy we adopted, about never losing the child to the disability, completely influenced how she’s raising her child. She’s raising her son to be an independent, adventurous little boy.”

The family donates ten percent of all sales to Blind Babies Foundation and the California Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired. These two organizations provided early intervention services and parent-to-parent knowledge in the first three years of Milagro’s life.

Graciela is actively seeking funding to create the entire DVD in Spanish. The family will give away a copy of the DVD on August 1st to one lucky educator, parent, early intervention service provider, medical professional or social service agency employee who visits Milagro’s site and signs her guest book.

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