Steps to a brighter future
A FOUR-year-old boy who can only see bright light and colours has been helped to attend mainstream school. Matthew O Leary is keeping up with the other children in his class at Eaton Socon Pre-school and is set to attend Crosshall School in September. He
A FOUR-year-old boy who can only see bright light and colours has been helped to attend mainstream school.
Matthew O'Leary is keeping up with the other children in his class at Eaton Socon Pre-school and is set to attend Crosshall School in September. He is just one of about 200 visually impaired children already benefiting from Cambridgeshire County Council's Visual Impairment Service.
His mother Kimberley O'Leary told The Hunts Post: "The service has been brilliant, it really helped me when Matthew first went to pre-school as I was really anxious. I would recommend the service to parents of visually impaired children, as I never believed Matthew would be able to attend a normal school."
Matthew is the only visually impaired student at Eaton Socon Pre-school and the service has ensured that yellow markings were drawn around the school to allow him to get around more easily and that staff have specialist training to look after him.
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Jenine Rea, senior specialist visual impairment teacher who has been visiting Matthew since he was four months old said: "He loves school and has amazing language skills which have allowed him to keep up with the other children in his class."
The Visual Impairment Service is led by Linda Lloyd who is accompanied by a team of specialist teachers, teaching assistants and a mobility specialist, the service works to ensure children with visual impairments can benefit by attending their local school.
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But while the service already helps lots of the county's children, it believes the help it offers can be extended to dozens of additional youngsters and their families.
Not only does the service have mobility specialists who help children learn about their environment, enabling them to move around safely both inside and outside, but it also works with families and schools to first assess a child and then meet their individual needs.
The group, which is part of Cambridgeshire County Council's children and young people's services, also runs a Braille club. This is based in St Ives where parents can learn with their children. Older children are provided with mobile Braille electronic notebooks so they can take notes in class.
Ninety per cent of all child referrals to the service come from consultant paediatric ophthalmologists or eye doctors at Addenbrooke's or Hinchingbrooke hospitals.
Two year old Lexie Ryan from Eaton Socon was born without eyes but is due to start at Eaton Socon Pre-school in September. Lexie's mother, Roxanne Ryan, said: "The service has been great offering us advice and help whenever we needed it. It is nice to be able to talk to people who know what lies ahead. We were apprehensive about sending her to school but we are glad that she is able to go to her local school. We would recommend the service to other families as without it we wouldn't have known where to start."
INFORMATION: To find out more about the Visual Impairment Service phone 01480 375805 or e-mail email@example.com