Blind Individuals Encountering Sleep Issues

One day, I had this discussion with 2 of my blind friends about the sleep problems that some blind people have, and the difficulty they encounter when they try to adjust to a certain time difference. Imagine how it is painful and torturous thing when you have a kind of disorder in your sleep pattern. All of us know how this can affect our performance and concentration on our work as professionals, or our studies as students. I decided to ask more about the problem and Google it to see if it is a real or it is nothing more than a discussion between me and my friends.
Surprisingly, I found more than one article and more than one study tackled this issue. In addition to many things a blind person need to cope with in life is this sleep problem. Studies show that some of the completely blind individuals or who don’t have any light perception suffer from a kind of sleep disorder called circadian rhythm disorder. When a normal person gets exposed to light during daytime and darkness at night, the body produces melatonin which stabilizes our normal sleep patterns. Lacking this normal production of melatonin can badly affect the biological clock of the blind who may suffer from sleep problem.

I am actually not a psychiatrist or a psychologist but I found interesting articles tackling this topic so I like to share them with you. Perhaps they can give you more elaboration about what i am trying to say. Sleep Disorders in Blind People is an interesting and easy article, I really recommend you read it.

For those of you who are more interested about the medical aspect of the issue, I also found this more specialized article Sleep Disorders in Blind Patients: News From the Lab, for the Clinic

I don’t want you to understand that all blind people have this problem although it seems that it is some how common. This is also what the studies showed. I just want to share this, it may be important for somebody and of course it is still relevant to the challenges that some blind individuals have to cope with in life.

Keeping a safe and accessible environment for your baby

Our blind baby is now growing up and he / she is trying to explore and navigate his / her surroundings. Should we limit this new experience for the sake of protection? How can we deal with it? Should we give him / her the opportunity to go for this exploratory trip?

Keeping a safe environment for the blind child is a basic thing to ensure his / her safety as a baby and as a blind. This does not mean that we hinder his / her attempts to gain new experiences using his / her other senses. Psychologists always encourage the parents to give their children a space to develop their cognitive experience; they always stress the importance of that for the process of growth. On the other hand, overprotection is really the worst enemy that can damage the building of the personality of the blind baby and it can reduce the speed of his / her cognitive, social, and psychological growth. You may hear me speak about the influence of overprotection on the blind person in general from time to time throughout my posts. But let us focus on our baby now. Ok, that’s fine. What should we do to achieve this balance between ensuring safety and avoiding overprotection?

The mother should not change the place of furniture, toys, or anything that the child is used to play with. This is very stressful for a blind child  baby especially if he / she is still non verbal.
If the mother wishes to change something, she should explain it for the child by letting him / her feel this change. This is of course applicable if the child is a bit older and he / she can understand this concept.
Another suggestion is to specify a certain corner or an area in the room, and to put a rug on which the child can crawl and reach his toys. This implies that the mother should not let the baby stay all the time in his / her stroller or bed, as this will limit the baby’s opportunity to explore his environment
Any electric outlets or plugs that are reachable by the child should be closed. Don’t leave room or closet doors open or half open because it is dangerous for the child. Avoid putting food or hot beverages on the floor or leaving detergents reachable by the child’s hands. This sounds to be basic knowledge for all mothers who even do not have blind children. The problem is that the mother may not be careful enough to take these safety precautions into consideration. She may think that her child is blind so he / she may not notice the existence of these things, on the contrary, because the baby lacks his/her eye sight, the urgency of touching and exploring the environment around him / her is stronger.

Establishing Communication with the Blind Baby

Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language play a vital role in the communication between a baby and his mother. In fact, they are so essential in the growth and development phases that the child go through.  But what would be the situation if a baby lacks this essential tool in establishing communication? Let us agree on something, we are dealing with an exceptional situation that needs the mother’s understanding and creativity. Communication with your baby may be really challenging if you don’t give yourself the time and effort to find the best ways to establish this successful connection between you and your blind baby.

The mother may misunderstand the different ways that a blind baby attempts to use to communicate with her. So how does a blind baby communicate?

It is always good to remember that your baby is only blind. He/she can still use his / her senses more effectively to communicate. The more you help him / her maximize the use of his / her other senses, the more confident and independent he / she will be throughout his / her life.

Blind babies establish the physical contact with the mother using other senses such as: the sense of hearing and touch to communicate effectively.

a blind baby may not turn his / her head when he / she hears the voice of his / her mother, but most probably he / she will turn his ear towards the direction of the voice.  This is the way by which this baby expresses his attention.

Massaging and light tickling are some of the ways by which a mother could build a good communication with her blind child

One of the important things that have to be taken into consideration is that the mother should not make any sudden movement or any high sudden sounds.  She has to approach him / her smoothly and quietly. Please note that a sighted child may know that his mother is in the room because he sees her before she talks to him / her.

Another point to be mentioned is that a sighted baby may be attracted to strangers because of the colors they wear or through their smiles; however, meeting strangers for a blind baby may be a bit uncomfortable because he or she is introduced to an unfamiliar voices or smells. The mother should not push her blind baby to communicate with strangers. She should introduce her blind child to strangers slowly

The baby should hear the stranger’s voices while being with his mother, then the stranger should try to start the physical contact with the child gradually. Then the mother can slowly give the child to this stranger in order to establish             a successful communication.

I got a blind baby, what should I do?

As soon as any mother knows she is pregnant, she feels that she can’t wait to see her baby. She can’t wait for nine months more to hold him / her in her arms. After nine months, the baby is here, but it is strange, he / she can’t open his / her eyes for an unknown reason. It is true that it sometimes takes longer for some babies to open their eyes but if this persists for days, this means that parents should pay attention.

The first thing that parents, particularly mothers,  should do is to see the doctor to know if it is a temporary thing related to the birth operation or their baby may really have a visual problem. So what if the baby has a visual impairment? What does the term (visual Impairment) mean? Let us first differentiate between blindness, visual impairment, and low vision. Arditi, A., & Rosenthal define Visual impairment (or vision impairment) is vision loss (of a person) to such a degree as to qualify as an additional support need through a significant limitation of visual capability resulting from either disease, trauma, or congenital or degenerative conditions that cannot be corrected by conventional means, such as refractive correction, medication, or surgery.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),” A person with low vision is one who has impairment of visual functioning even after treatment and/or standard refractive correction, and has a visual acuity of less than 6/18 to light perception, or a visual field of less than 10 degree from the point of fixation, but who uses, or is potentially able to use, vision for planning and/or execution of a task. “

Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors. Various scales have been developed to describe the extent of vision loss and define blindness. Total blindness is the complete lack of form and visual light perception and is clinically recorded as NLP, an abbreviation for “no light perception.”

Blindness is frequently used to describe severe visual impairment with residual vision. Those described as having only light perception have no more sight than the ability to tell light from dark and the general direction of a light source.

Upon all those definitions, we cannot actually put all children or people who have a visual disability in the same category. Therefore, it is important to know the level of severity of the visual impairment if it really exists. Earlier intervention is so critical and if it is done correctly and quickly, it saves the parents a lot of hassle and sometimes it even helps solving the problem completely.

Yes correct! It is the time to speak up!

“I wish if people treat me as any other normal person.” “I wish if I can get others’ appreciation and respect without the gestures or words of pity and sympathy.” “I wish if others can see beyond the fact that I am blind person.” “Each individual should understand that nobody is perfect and everyone faces various challenges on different levels.”

Listening to those words and experiencing what they convey almost on daily basis stopped me and let me think. Why do we still have those concerns despite the great success achieved by many blind individuals? Why is this bitterness that the blind person feels from time to time despite the tremendous technological progress that empowered him / her much more than before? Why do he / she still lacks confidence despite the various laws and acts that secure his / her right and enable him / her to live an equal life?

If this is the case, why don’t we speak up? Why don’t we share our challenges, dreams, or activities? Perhaps somebody lives in the other part of the world has a solution for one of those problems that we suffer from? Why don’t we speak up about our successful stories to give others a hinter a direction to follow? Why don’t we speak up and address the whole community around us and say hey we are here! We are a vital part of the society, we  can bear several professional, social, and educational duties and perform them efficiently and precisely?

So the whole idea of this blog is to speak up and to express ourselves without limits or boundaries about what motivates us, what hinders us, what we like, what we don’t like, how do we do this or that?

I will be happy to receive any suggested topics or comments that in reach the discussion and makes the blog more relevant to everybody.

Before I leave you, Please think positively because positive thinking is your key to success.