Story

How Karen went from isolated to included

True inclusion is not as simple a process as one might think. Still, the outcome is always worth the customization. Karen is a 6-year-old girl from Aguascalientes, Mexico, with multiple, complex disabilities ranging from visual impairment to psychomotor delays. Here’s how meeting one Perkins-trained educator transformed her life.

Karen, a young girl, stand next to a planter with three-quarters filled with soil. Her teach stand behind her, holding her hands, guiding her to grab a handful of soil.

True inclusion is not as simple a process as one might think. Still, the outcome is always worth the customization. Karen is a 6-year-old girl from Aguascalientes, Mexico, with multiple, complex disabilities ranging from visual impairment to psychomotor delays. Here’s how meeting one Perkins-trained educator transformed her life.

Karen didn’t have a positive experience at daycare when she was younger, and before enrolling in school, Karen only spent time with the adults in her family. While her parents, Ebely and Victor, loved their relationship with such an affectionate and kind daughter, they worried about her future. Would Karen ever gain her independence?

Then they met Paulina.

With Perkins, the Whole Famly is Included

Although Karen’s parents were nervous about Karen starting school, they enrolled her in CAM VII in Aguascalientes, where they met Perkins-trained educator Paulina.

Paulina knew the importance of assessing students through observation in real situations. This way, they could discover Karen’s skills in order to later set clear educational objectives.

She connected Karen and her family to a team of professionals: a psychologist, social worker, communication specialist, and a therapist. Despite the country still in lockdown due to the pandemic, Karen’s team completed their evaluation by watching the videos her parents submitted. They would watch these videos repeatedly, paying attention to the every detail in order to correctly assess Karen’s abilities and needs.

Paulina communicated frequently with Karen’s family. She visited their home to establish a closer relationship with the family, and to observe Karen at home. There, she asked Karen’s parents their vision for their daughter’s future.

“Karen will learn to play different musical instruments; she will be very happy with her family; she will learn; she will walk; she will complete her education, and she will learn what she needs to be autonomous when she grows up.”

Ebely and Victor, Karen’s parents

Inclusion Means Community

With Perkins’ support, Ebely attended the Texas Symposium on Deafblindness virtually. There, she talked to other families with children similar to her daughter. This experience, along with the network of families offered through the school, helped Karen and her family feel included. They were now part of a supportive community.

When school eventually reopened, Ebely and Victor struggled to let Karen attend in person. It would be the first time she would be away from them, her first taste of independence. Was she ready?

According to Paulina, this moment is critical for many children with multiple, complex disabilities. Thanks to the encouragement and advice of other families, Karen’s parents decided to send their daughter to school in person.

Victor, Karen, and Ebely smile and sit close to each other. They sit at a table included in a large room with other famili
Victor, Karen, and Ebely smile while at a school event.

Going to school in person positively impacted her progress. For Karen, being included helped her find her independence. Now, Karen can walk with a walker from the school entrance to her classroom.

She communicates when she likes or dislikes an activity. She cooperates in tasks such as washing her hands and brushing her teeth. Karen chooses what she wants to do, respects turns when talking, holds hands with her classmates, expresses her feelings, and dances to music.

Ebely believes that communication with the school was the key to her daughter’s success. When she looks back on this moment, she recalls the thought that decided their future:

“if we keep her with us, she will never be able to learn. if we let her go, she will achieve autonomy”

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