See life anew

By Heli Ben Elisha, a teacher at Elia

When our poetry, already 13 years old, is sitting in class, she will not be able to read from the board, even if she gets close to the first line. She has difficulty seeing small details, and from a distance of two meters she sees almost nothing. On trips she has difficulty with the differences in height and depth of vision, she wears glasses that protect her eyes but do not help her with vision. Poetry suffers from tremor of the pupils and difficulty focusing the gaze.
When she was born everything seemed right to us. Even the routine tests did not indicate anything special. Towards the age of three months, the pediatrician referred us to the emergency room due to high fever and a swollen pelvis and fear of meningitis. After a series of tests in the emergency room, the doctors noticed that poetry did not focus on sight and did not make eye contact. When the emergency doctor approached us and said he wanted to talk to us we had a bad feeling and we were afraid we were going to get in a very difficult line. So we first heard the name ‘coloboma’, innate in eye development. Sometime during pregnancy her eye development stopped. Its deficiency is in the retina that has not fully developed, and it causes damage to the center of its vision. It was explained to us that the coloboma is large and exists in both eyes. The doctor explained that there is a chance of residual vision but it is not possible to know for sure what the long-term damage is, she will have a blind certificate and she will probably be recognized with one hundred percent disability.

The days that followed were hard, days of emotional turmoil. My husband and I did not know how to deal with the future, we cried together and supported each other. One of the things that helped us cope was the fact that we were both very task-oriented, we wanted to check where to go and who to turn to. The other night when we were informed of Shira’s condition, my husband was unable to sleep and he started searching the internet for information about the disabilities and other parents dealing with her. Elia, a unique kindergarten for children with visual impairments to blindness, was told to us at the hospital, and with the help of a social worker, the registration process was very fast. At the age of five months Shira entered the kindergarten for the baby group and later into the kindergarten.

The kindergarten teachers at ELI are special education kindergarten teachers who do real sacred work – they contain the children and the parents, with endless tolerance, and do everything in their power to promote the children. All that implies. In the kindergarten there are professionals from the fields of vision, vision practitioners, occupational clinics, communication clinicians, and in addition hydrotherapy treatments, physiotherapy and more are provided. Because visual impairment can cause developmental delays, treatment focuses not only on vision, but also on fine motor skills and the acquisition of daily skills such as mobility and spatial orientationWith the help of the tools that Shira received in kindergarten, she began to make up for the shortcomings. Her lively nature and her need for independence were of help to her. We met other parents who were dealing with disabilities and became good friends. This group allowed us to embrace the flaws and internalize that this is the new reality. She is the one who directed us to the goal, how we manage not to give up anything to allow Poetry to grow as a normal child as possible. She entered first grade already in a regular setting, with a supportive teacher and today she is already in seventh grade.

Before poetry was born I was far from education, but after it came into our lives I realized I needed to make a change in my life. I quickly realized that my dream was to change professions and eventually reach ELI. I started working as an administrative director in a kindergarten for special education in the field of cerebral palsy, and when Shira was five I started studying evening studies for a bachelor’s degree in education. During my studies, I opened a daycare center at my home in Tzur Yitzhak, And so I slowly entered the field of education. When I finished my internship and internship, I knew that I could finally apply to work at ELI and close the circle. That they experience makes it easier for them and brings them closer in. For me it is closing a circle, I help others deal with what I have experienced and that is the task of my life.

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