Families are never alone

Perkins lifts up families of children with visual impairments—but it’s about so much more than being a service provider.

Headshot of Teri Turgeon

This story appears in the Summer 2019 issue of In Focus.

My daughter first brought me to Perkins.

It was shortly after learning she’d been born totally blind. We came for a conference, but honestly, I don’t recall much about it. What I do remember is arriving on campus with my daughter in her stroller, her little hands clenched into fists, as they often were, and held over her eyes. I remember, too, seeing for the first time other children holding their hands up, a common habit known as eye-poking, in the same manner. And I remember in that moment feeling my family wasn’t alone.

Fast forward to today: I now serve as the director of Community Programs at Perkins, resolute in working to bring that same feeling to other families.

Our work starts with children from birth to age three and their families, when we provide assessments, early intervention and connections to medical, educational and social resources. As children age, we partner with school districts, deploying teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) throughout New England to fill whatever roles are necessary. Then there’s Outreach, which brings public school students to our campus for activities that build orientation and mobility, social and independent living skills.

The relationships we build with families don’t end with services rendered, and that’s crucial to reinforcing the sense of togetherness at the heart of Community Programs.

Ancillary to the services we provide, we’re here as a general support system, ready to answer the biggest questions or provide the simplest of directions. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since a family’s last contact with us, or what service they received. If they need Perkins at any point, we’re here for them. Conversely, if a school district faces a hurdle, or struggles to implement an individual education plan, they can call us. We will answer.

That’s what I ultimately hope families take away from their time with us. Ours is a family-centered practice in every way, and I say that not just as a leader at Perkins, but as a mother too.

Now 23, my daughter has since blossomed into an intelligent, capable young woman and burgeoning political scientist. I’m incredibly proud of her and can’t wait to see what her future holds. As for myself, I now enjoy the privilege of helping families every day unlock the boundless potential within their own children.

As Director of Community Programs, Teri Turgeon oversees the Educational Partnerships and Outreach programs. She has been a member of the Perkins community for nearly 20 years and a leader on staff since 2008.

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