How to Empower Your Child Who is Blind: Tips and Resources for ParentsPublished on
Understanding Childhood Blindness
Where to start
Learning that your child is blind can come with a lot of emotions, from the joy of having a baby to the concerns of navigating a new path. Please know, you are not alone. It is estimated that over 1.4 million children are legally blind worldwide. In fact, more than 500,000 visually impaired or blind children live in the United States. Each child is as unique as their fingerprints.
Many parents have concerns when it comes to raising children. Adding a visual impairment can seem overwhelming during the process. However, as Schoolhouse Rock proclaimed, “Knowledge is Power.” The more you learn about your child’s abilities as well as their visual impairment, the more empowered and equipped you will become.
The key to success is early intervention for you and your child.
The American Council of the Blind has excellent resources for information and support as you begin this journey with your child as a family. They have an insightful article aimed at this very subject titled, “Are You the Parents of A Blind Child?”. it’s a free and helpful source of information.
Ways you can empower yourself and your child
- First and foremost, be sure to take time to enjoy your wonderful child. There is more to your child than their limitations.
- Learn as much as you can about your child’s visual abilities and challenges. This information will be beneficial down the road regarding treatment options, prognosis, and individual education needs.
- Allow your child to participate in family chores. Working together will ensure your child understands day-to-day tasks that they will carry into adulthood and develop an early sense of independence.
- Let your child make decisions. It’s important to know that their visual disability shouldn’t interfere with age-appropriate independence. Allow them to pick what they want on a sandwich or what style of clothing they want to wear.
- Let your child experience new things by letting go. This is a big one; it can be tempting to protect your child from the world, but exploration will lead to independence. Let go of your child’s hand as they wade in a river or run in a field. As they get older, permit a trip to the mall or an afternoon at the movies. Many movie companies like AMC have announced that they now provide descriptive audio for people with visual disabilities. This can make your child feel more included by talking to others about these types of experiences that other people have.
- Multisensory-oriented activities that don’t rely solely on sight are important, too. Great options might include a playground, hands-on museum, or a petting zoo. All of these will have a wealth of activities for your child.
- Encourage your child to look into their future. Exploring education or career path options will help them gain independence and confidence. Check out these job resources from the American Council of the Blind.
What to take away
While it’s essential to stay on top of your child’s needs, it’s equally important to focus on quality time. Time spent bonding with them is paramount in their development. It’s also important to understand that what works best for your child will become clearer down the road. Just take a deep breath and enjoy your child. After all, the best possible thing a parent can do for their child is to love them and be there for them.
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