Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

High Flying FlagHouse Services People with Disabilities

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

Five-years ago, I worked with an adorable two-year-old who had a visual impairment and many facial abnormalities. Asia was a special little soul who was not meant to be with us long, but what a difference this little girl made in my life and many others in her short two-years on earth.

Asia’s mother, Tabitha, was a dynamic parent who loved her daughter and expected great things from her and from the specialist who worked with her. Asia was not expected to do all the things that she was doing because of so many physical issues. However, Asia never knew this, and Tabitha did not accept anything but high expectations and happiness for her daughter. Asia waved her hand at others, blew kisses, loved to shop and had more personality than most children her age.

Because of Asia’s many physical problems, Tabitha was constantly searching for adaptive equipment that helped her toddler to succeed in life. One day when I was working with Asia, Tabitha brought me a catalog from a company with many cool adaptive devices and toys, and that catalog was FlagHouse.

“Ms. Kristie, can you order this large yellow ball and other items from FlagHouse for Asia?” she asked me one day.

“Yes,” I said, “But only if you’ll show me how I can start receiving these catalogs myself.”

FlagHouse has been in business since 1957 but began servicing special needs in 1975. This family operated company has many adaptive devices for everyone and anyone with special needs from infants to senior citizens.

During the past year, FlagHouse has debuted three new catalogs: Flying Start - for children up to age 5 in preschool environments with a focus on early intervention; Giant Leaps - for school-age children with special needs; and Going Strong for adults and seniors with special needs. Their catalogs are aimed at professionals in schools, special facilities, camps, hospitals, long-term care centers and rehabilitation clinics, virtually anyone who works with those living with cognitive and physical disabilities.

The president, George Carmel, is compassionate and caring just like the rest of his staff. Michelle Mathias, one of the Senior Brand Managers for Special Needs products at Flaghouse, encourages everyone to contact the helpful Flaghouse staff at 800-265-6900 any time assistance is needed. I know from experience that FlagHouse helps, guides and truly takes great care of their clients. The company knows and understands the needs and materials that will make a difference in the lives of those struggling with physical or cognitive obstacles.

My personal experience with this incredible company and the people who work at FlagHouse is personal. The company published five of my books that train teachers, professionals and families how to work with children who have a visual impairment as well as a Social Play guide available in each vision kit exclusively owned by FlagHouse. After Tabitha asked for more adaptive devices for her toddler, I wanted desperately to be a part of FlagHouse.

After Wee Play, Wee Learn, Wee Play in the Dark, Wee Are Ready, Views from a Vision Teacher and The Elephant in the Room were published, Michelle Mathias helped to create vision kits that enhance my activity books. A parent or a teacher can simply read the activities, pick up the activity kit and stimulate a child’s vision with no hassle or worry. The kits are also cost efficient and are available for families and schools who are on a budget.

FlagHouse is a company that understands that people all want the same things in life: to be independent, social, loved and happy. Just because a person has a disability does not mean that he does not need and want the same things in life that you and I do. Quite the contrary, a person with disabilities craves to do regular activities that we sometimes take for granted.

FlagHouse offers adaptive tools, toys, swings, and numerous other devices that assist people with physical obstacles to be able to meet their own needs and make choices for themselves.

I will never forget my precious two-year-old student, Asia, who taught me so much more than I ever taught her. She brought FlagHouse to me. She was one of the reasons that my books became published with a phenomenal company and that a vision section was created. Ironically, after I signed my contract with FlagHouse, the books were sent to ‘ASIA’ to be published. When I see a little girl’s room decorated in pink, I always think of my student who introduced me to a company that is caring, compassionate and gives much to people with disabilities.

When Asia passed away that following Christmas, the other specialist and I were devastated. To help ease our pain, my mother wrote a beautiful poem on this special little girl who made such a difference to so many.

“Baby Angel”

By Jamille Smith

Today Heaven is lit
With a rosy pink glow
An angel has come
From the earth far below.

Her journey here has ended-
Her story has been told.
Now Asia runs and plays through
Streets made of gold.
For more information on FlagHouse, please visit their website at or call 1-800-265-6900.

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