Families are never alone

Perkins supports families of children with complex disabilities, but it’s about so much more than providing a service.

A woman speaks to a large audience seated in front of her.

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 serve as Education 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 the Outreach Program, which brings public school students to our campus for activities that build orientation and mobility as well as 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. Our practice is  family-centered in every way, and I say that not just as a leader at Perkins, but as a mother too. If I could go back to that parent that walked onto campus over twenty years ago, I would say it’s going to be okay. Just follow the journey, trust it, and use the resources you have available to you.

As Education Director of Community Programs, Teri Turgeon oversees the Early Intervention, Educational Partnerships, and Outreach programs. She has been a member of the Perkins community for over 20 years and a Perkins leader as an employee since 2008.

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