In breakthrough moment, Kailyn finds friendship

Students in the Deafblind Program work on social and communication skills so they can express their feelings and make friends.

Kailyn, 4, is a student in the Deafblind Program.

Kailyn, 4, is a really affectionate child. Her visual impairment, hearing loss and complex medical needs, however, have always made it hard for her to build friendships. 

“She experiences the world differently than most children,” says her mother, Jessica. “Which makes it difficult for other children to connect with her.” 

That’s why it was such a breakthrough moment when Kailyn made her first friend at Perkins. 

Adds Jessica, “Shortly after starting preschool, I received a message from the mother of one of her classmates sharing that her daughter comes home talking about Kailyn after school each day. I cried. It was the first time Kailyn made a friend on her own. Since then she has made several other friends at school.” 

And that’s no coincidence. At Perkins, teachers in the Deafblind Program routinely build lesson plans keeping in mind the immortal words of Helen Keller: “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light.”

That means Kailyn’s been working a lot on building the types of social and communication skills necessary for expressing her happy self, learning simple signs and putting them to use while participating in social activities. 

But it’s not just her newfound friendships that have her parents excited. Kailyn is thriving in other areas, too. 

In addition to now being able to speak up for herself, she’s gaining self-determination skills, which include picking out her own outfit each day. She’s making physical strides too, as she can now get herself up on all fours, an accomplishment that once seemed out of reach, and is getting more comfortable using her stander, an assistive device that helps her stand upright. 

Students and teachers attend a virtual class.

Kailyn, top right, attends a class on Zoom.

Her learning hasn’t stopped in light of the coronavirus pandemic either. That work has just gone remote, with her teachers in the Deafblind Program helping her progress continue at home. 

She’s been receiving videos from teachers reading books with sign support. She’s had adaptive equipment sent home to her. And her teachers and therapists are teaching her parents signs associated with learning materials to help guide them through activities.

And the strides she’s made, as well as the continued work, has her parents optimistic for their daughter’s future, describing Kailyn as “a force to be reckoned with.” 

“My dream for Kailyn in the next year is to continue her journey to become as independent as she can. It all starts with remaining healthy and continues with more expressive communication, deeper friendships and progress towards mobility and sitting,” says Jessica. “If her first year at Perkins is any indicator of how the next year will go, I am certain she will surprise us all with just how much she is capable of doing.”

Help support Kailyn as she makes friends and surprises her parents with her newfound abilities. Give today.


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