Sarah’s Story – Reaching Milestones

“She wasn’t making the milestones she needed to be making. Not even lifting her head. MSB has helped Sarah reach those milestones and helped us understand her.”

When The Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) is engaged with a family from the earliest moment possible, it can make all the difference. Sarah Burk and her family began their journey with MSB when she was four months old.

After not hitting many 4-month milestones, Sarah’s pediatrician suspected that she wasn’t seeing the world as an infant should.  The doctor recommended that the family reach out to MSB for Early Intervention Services; a program that provides information, resources, and support to parents including family counseling and training, vision services, special instruction, playgroups, social work, therapeutic consultation, and diagnostic evaluations, all based on each individual family’s needs.

After the initial evaluation, Sarah and her family worked with our Infant and Toddlers staff twice a week until she was three years old and enrolled full time in MSB’s Pre-K. MSB’s expert staff worked with Sarah and her parents every week to help them grow together and reach those important milestones. Sarah is now 9 years old and is thriving in MSB’s elementary school programs. Diagnosed with autism early on, her team at MSB has worked closely with her family to develop unique learning and communication systems and environments tailored to her.  Sarah has flourished in the supportive environment of MSB. She enjoys attending school and has a high aptitude for learning. The results of years of hard work have helped to shape this lovely child into a smart, agile, and funny young girl.

Last year when schools suddenly closed due to COVID-19, Sarah’s mom, Arianna, shifted to become her fulltime school coach for virtual learning. She sat with her daughter through her online classes every single day. As you can imagine, virtual learning for students who are Blind or Low Vision and Autistic is difficult—especially for first and second graders, but in Sarah’s case, something incredible happened. 

In spite of, or because of, virtual instruction, things were clicking for Sarah and she was consistently surpassing her classmates. As her teachers created more and more challenging assignments, Sarah continually exceeded their expectations. Surprisingly, in a virtual environment, Sarah was blossoming. Her parents and teachers unanimously agreed Sarah was ready to move to a new academic classroom.  Because MSB offers different kinds of instructional programs to serve a wide variety of student needs, within 24 hours, MSB was able to move Sarah into a different program that would challenge her as a student and open up opportunities for greater academic success.

“When your child needs special education other parents tell you horror stories and you prepare to have to fight to get what they need.  However, I have yet to ask for anything that has not been offered by her team before I even thought of it. MSB really does stand behind my family and my daughter. I cannot say enough good things about MSB and the staff.” –  Ariana Burk