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Blindness Unlimited
Lee Castillo, COMS/TVI Intern
The Hidden Visual Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis
Brandon's Dream
Educator of the Year

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Blindness Unlimited
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Blindness Unlimited








Blindness Unlimited is a new video series being produced by Sonja Biggs Educational Services.  The series features Brandon Keith Biggs sharing tips and ideas about living life successfully as a blind young person.  Have you ever thought about how a blind person plays computer games? Or fixes his breakfast in the morning?

Lee Castillo, COMS/TVI Intern

Sometimes people come into your life for just a short time.  I had the privilege of working with Lee Castillo for the past year.  Lee was an Orientation & Mobility Specialist and TVI Intern working with me at the San Benito County Office of Education. His students loved him very much as I did, too. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed sharing his music with others. Lee passed away January 13, 2014. He will be missed by all who knew him. He brought joy into our lives and I would like to honor Lee here on my blog. A memorial fund has been set up in his name with the Community Foundation for San Benito County.  Donations can be sent made out to the Community Foundation for San Benito County with Lee Castillo Memorial Fund written in the Memo line of your check.  You can mail your donation to:  Community Foundation for San Benito County, 829 San Benito Street, Hollister, CA  95023. All proceeds will go to benefit the blind children in San Benito County, as Lee would have wanted if he were still with us in body.  We carry his spirit in our hearts.  He was a great man and I am proud to have known and worked with him.

The Hidden Visual Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis

Optic Neuritis affects our children in different ways. They could see 20/20 one minute and the next 20/400. Fluctuating vision, severe eye pain, scotomos, fluctuating color vision loss, and migraines all affect how they see on a day to day basis.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Optic Neuritis
          Recently I have been introduced to Optic Neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve that can cause a varity of unpleasant visual discomfort and vision fluctuation as a result of Multiple Sclerosis.

Brandon's Dream

Our family just read your book and saw all the photos, what a compelling
story!–Texas
Have been meaning to say the beautiful book arrived. It’s quite inspirational and the photos and text are great!–Washington
 
 
 
 
Blind Cinderella Boy Becomes a Prince
 
Gilroy, California – April 28, 2013 – New children’s picture book inspires others through the story of a blind young man achieving his dream to be an actor and opera singer.
Brandon’s Dream tells the compelling story of a blind boy who has a dream of acting and singing on stage and how he achieves his dream through hard work, perseverance, and the full support of his family.

Educator of the Year

What an amazing honor! I am so humbled by the support of my colleagues in the field of blindness. I work with an incredible team of people and without them nothing would be accomplished for children with visual impairments. It really does take a team to make a difference in the life of a child and we all have to work together. I am reminded of this daily as I work with the wonderful children who have visual impairments in California. Thank you, NCAER, and all of my colleagues.

Another surprise came when I was invited to the San Benito County Office of Education Board of Directors meeting. I thought I was just going to show them my NCAER award, but they surprised me with a special recognition award of their own for my service to the children in San Benito County who have visual impairments. Their affirming comments and attitude of gratefulness brought tears to my eyes. Again, I am reminded that it takes a team working together to make a difference and without the wonderful administrators, special education directors, parents, teachers, and para-educators, I would not be able to do the work I do. I love the people I work with and the students I work for! Thank you, San Benito County Office of Education!

Rejection

Five Conservatory applications, $3,000, and five rejection letters. As a parent, how do we deal with the emotional impact of rejection?
 
We know our child is talented, smart, and totally able to succeed. After all he has a 4.0 GPA, sings beautifully, has been trained by the best vocal instructors, been in 15 musical productions, performed in several vocal performances, and has achieved more than most children who are sighted. So, wherein lies the difficulty in getting accepted to music conservatories?

Bones & LCA

 
It is a wonderful thing that Leber's Congenital Amaurosis is receiving recognition on a popular TV show called "Bones." As a parent of a child with LCA, there are a few things I want to reassure you of. First of all, LCA is caused by a recessive gene. It is a rare disorder. Parents probably will not even know they are a carrier during the pregnancy because usually no one else in the family has ever had the eye disease. Second, I appreciate the fact the family portrayed had a positive spirit about having a child who may be blind; however, there is no reason a child or adult who is blind cannot be a painter, doctor, musician, teacher, actor, singer, dancer, CEO, engineer, mayor, or whatever the child dreams of having as a vocation.

When a Mother's Heart Hurts

To struggling mothers of young children who are blind,
 
Please know that where you are I once was, as well. I have grieved, cried, and felt helpless. But I know that my son also has many opportunities sighted kids don't have. My son is Brandon Keith Biggs. He is 19 now. I know that unless a cure is found for CRB1 that Brandon will one day go totally blind. He almost is now. I have struggled with the same feelings you have, but let me share with you all that he has accomplished so far in his life.
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