Jayden's first steps to success

The majority of early learning is visual. What does that mean for kids like Jayden who are born blind?

A mom holds her young son.

Jayden and his mother.

October 31, 2019

The first three years of a child’s life are critical. During these early years, children develop important skills that are the foundation for all their future learning. 

But what if the child is blind? Did you know that 90 percent of early learning is visual? That means children who are born with blindness or visual impairment face significant challenges and need unique support to get on the path to success.

Take, for example, Jayden. He was born without both his eyes, an extremely rare condition called anophthalmia syndrome. During his first years of life, he underwent fifteen surgeries. 

His parents were overwhelmed. How would Jayden get the support he needed? How would he learn important skills?

For help, they turned to the Infant and Toddler Program at Perkins, which provides in-home services and on-campus groups where parents and their children can come together to learn, share experiences and build a plan for the future. Perkins develops and implements individualized family service plans that help children like Jayden develop the motor, cognitive, social and emotional skills that will enable them to reach their full potential.

Jayden plays the braille xylophone on Perkins' campus.

Jayden plays the braille xylophone on Perkins' campus.

Our educators visited Jayden’s home regularly and worked with Jayden and his family to help him explore and interact with the world around him. They set up texture boards so he could feel new materials without fear. They started using braille books so he could get comfortable feeling braille. 

His family was filled with hope. 

“Perkins inspires a level of trust that allows parents to relax, sometimes for the first time since their child was diagnosed,” says one of Jayden’s social workers. “They start looking toward their child’s future, their education and their independence. That’s the peace of mind and hope for the future you provide when you support Perkins.”

Jayden plays on Perkins' accessible playground.

Jayden plays on Perkins' accessible playground.

Jayden is now 4 years old and in his second year as a full time Perkins student. He’s learning basic signs for “more” and “all done” and can verbalize “Hi!” He’s learned how to use a schedule board to know what to look forward to every day. 

When Jayden realizes he’s on Perkins campus, he lights up with a smile every time. 

A happy Jayden smiles for the camera.

A happy Jayden smiles for the camera.

Jayden’s getting the early intervention he needs. But there are many more children like him who need assistance. We can’t reach all of them without your help.

Your generosity now can help ensure Perkins reaches more kids just like Jayden. Every gift made by December 31 will be matched, up to $250,000. If you help us raise the full amount, it will mean a total of $500,000 to provide early learning, support families and teach ongoing skills that are essential for kids who are blind or have multiple disabilities in their earliest years.