By Hali Ben Elisha, Kindergarten Teacher at Elia
When our poetry, already 13 years old, sits in class, she won’t be able to read from the board, even if she gets close to the front row. She finds it difficult to see small details, and from a distance of two meters she hardly sees anything. On trips she struggles with height and depth vision differences, she wears glasses that protect her eyes but do not help her vision. Shira suffers from pupil hunting and difficulty in focusing her gaze.
When she was born, everything seemed right to us. The routine checks didn’t point to anything special either. Towards the age of three months, the pediatrician referred us to the emergency room due to a high fever and swollen herpes and fear of meningitis. After a series of tests in the ER, the doctors noticed that poetry does not focus a gaze and does not make eye contact. When the emergency doctor came up to us and said he wanted to talk to us we had a bad feeling and we were afraid we were going to get a very hard line. So we first heard the name ‘Collobuma’, which lacks congenital eye development. Sometime during pregnancy, her eye development stopped. Her deficiency is in the retina of the eye that hasn’t fully developed, causing damage to her visual center. It was explained to us that the colobuma is large and exists in both eyes. The doctor explained that there is a chance of residing vision but it is impossible to know for sure what the long-term damage is, she will have a blind certificate and she will probably be recognized with 100% disability.
The days later were hard, days of emotional turmoil. My husband and I didn’t know how we were going to deal with the future, we cried together and supported each other. One of the things that helped us cope is the fact that we were both very missionary, we wanted to see where to go and who to turn to. The night we were informed of Shira’s condition, my husband was unable to sleep and he began searching the Internet for information about the disability and other parents dealing with it. Elia, a unique kindergarten for children with visual impairments and blindness, told 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 and later entered the kindergarten.
The kindergarten teachers at the Elysee are special education horticultural teachers who do real holy work – they contain the children and the parents, with endless tolerance, and do everything in their power to promote the children. However, ELI is not only an educational framework, but also a rehabilitation daycare center, with all that entails. In the garden there are professionals from the field of vision, vision practitioners, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and hydrotherapy treatments, physiotherapy and more are also provided. Since visual impairment can cause developmental delay, the treatment focuses not only on vision, but also on fine motors and the purchase of everyday diaries such as mobility and orientation in space. Using the tools she received in kindergarten, she began to compensate for the disability. Her vibrant nature and need for independence was of help to her. We met other parents who dealt with the disability and became good friends. This group has allowed us to embrace the disability and realize that this is the new reality. She’s the one who targeted us, how do we manage not to give up anything to allow poetry to grow as normal a child as possible. In first grade, she entered a regular framework, with a supportive teacher, and today she is already in seventh grade.
Before Poetry was born, I was far from the realm of education, but after entering our lives I realized that I needed to make a difference in my life. I quickly realized that the dream was to do a retraining profession and eventually reach the A.I.P. I began working as an administrative manager in the kindergarten of special education in the field of cerebral palsy, and when Shera was five years old, I began studying for a bachelor’s degree in education. After three years, I began my special education studies with a teaching certificate that lasted another two years. During my studies, I opened a family home in Tyre Yitzhak, and this is how I slowly entered the field of education. When I graduated and the internship, I knew that I could finally apply to work at the A.I.P. and close the circle. When I contacted them, of course, they hugged me, I came to the interview and got me to work, and it’s been two years since. I feel that knowing the parents in kindergarten that I have also experienced what they are experiencing makes it easier for them and brings them closer. For me it’s closure, I help others cope with what I’ve experienced and this is my life’s mission.