In a mother’s words

A mother of a legally blind child tapped into her local school district and Perkins resources to enable her daughter to reach her fullest potential.

Three-year-old Cheyenne is learning how to navigate around her school with the help of a Perkins orientation and mobility teacher.

Danalynn Stockwood was determined to find the best education services for her 3-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, who is legally blind. Stockwood tapped into her local school district and Perkins School for the Blind resources to enable her daughter to reach her fullest potential.

1. How would you describe your daughter, Cheyenne?

Cheyenne is a happy, fearless, compassionate, sweet, sassy, social 3-½ year old hugger. Currently she attends pre-school and absolutely loves it. She is legally blind with peripheral and depth perception impairments.

2. When did you realize that Cheyenne had a visual impairment? What was your reaction?

I realized there was an issue when I noticed a rapid eye movement in her right eye, which I now know was nystagmus. I was worried but did not think deeply what would be the cause. I believed her issue would resolve once I took her to the doctor. In 2014, after an MRI of her brain, it was determined that Chey has an OPG (optic pathway glioma). I was very sad. It is a very emotional experience. My husband was and has always been optimistic.

3. What types of services does Cheyenne receive from the school district and the Perkins Community Program?

Cheyenne receives occupation therapy, physical therapy, speech, vision therapy. And orientation and mobility from Perkins.

A young girl learning orientation and mobility skills from a teacherCheyenne learns orientation and mobility skills from Perkins Community Program teacher Pamela Oddis. The two walk the halls of Cheyenne’s school side-by-side, practicing navigational skills with a pre-cane device.

4. Do you feel that the Perkins services combined with those of the public school have helped Cheyenne more than if she didn’t have access to both? If so, please explain why.

Most definitely!!! I believe because there is a very low population of vision-impaired students, teachers, administrators and staff they now have the opportunity to learn how a child with low vision needs to adapt. It also builds Cheyenne’s confidence in learning how to navigate her surroundings.

A young girl navigates her school during an orientation and mobility lesson with a teacher.

Cheyenne confidently navigates her school during an orientation and mobility lesson with Perkins teacher Pamela Oddis.

A young girl learns how students navigate the lunch line and use trays.During an orientation and mobility lesson, 3-year-old Cheyenne learns how students navigate the lunch line and use trays.

5. Are there any moments that are particularly encouraging?

I tend to forget how independent Cheyenne can and should be. When Pam [Oddis] and Chey have their therapy session, it amazes me how to see Chey safely explore her surroundings with her pre-cane device.

(Also) a mom of a child with visual impairments from Western Massachusetts told us that when the teacher from Perkins placed a cane in her young daughter’s hands, she began walking around on her own. It was a special moment as it was then that she realized her daughter could be an “independent traveler.”

A young girl walks the school grounds independently.Cheyenne walks the school grounds independently as Perkins teacher Pamela Oddis follows behind and reminds Cheyenne of audio, tactile and spatial awareness cues to encourage Cheyenne to learn how to travel independently.

6. What are your dreams for Cheyenne? Plans for realizing those dreams?

My dreams for Cheyenne are for her to attain any goal and desire she wishes. Even with her impairments I know she is capable of a plethora of things. My plans for her to realize her dreams are to constantly be her advocate, helping her realize her potential and tap into all available resources.

A teacher gives a young girl a high-fivePamela Oddis gives Cheyenne a high-five after Cheyenne successfully reaches her destination.