Neglecting your blind child: The opposite extreme

In my previous post, I tried to express my thoughts about over protection and to explain how it is not the best way to go; and it is very important to avoid this extreme. The opposite perspective of this approach is to totally ignore your blind child and consider him / her nothing in the family. One reason is that some people think that a blind child usually has another mental problem so it is hard to work on adjusting his / her behavior. Although it is sometimes true that a blind person may have another mental disability, it is not always the case and we should assume that he / she is normal at the first place. Upon that analysis, nobody tries to correct unacceptable behavior of a blind child assuming that he / she behaves like this because it cannot be fixed. As a result, this blind child grows up with those bad habits. All families should be responsible for this adjustment of the behavior of their blind children.
The blind child may be neglected if there is more than 1 child in the same family. Some parents give more attention to a sighted or a normal child in the family than a blind one. They think that if they give extra care of their sighted child, he / she is the one who will be able to take care of them when they grow older and bear the responsibility of the whole family. This represents an unhealthy environment for the growing of the blind children who may get depressed throughout the stages of their life.
My dear parents, your blind children are an important part of your family. If you take care of them, they will be a great help of you when you grow older.


Over protection: The Real Enemy

Education experts always tell us not to over protect our children as it has its own bad consequences on the cognitive intellectual and physical growth of the child. Of course our children are the most valuable treasure we may have so definitely we should be careful and sometimes over protective. The question is to what extent we should do that. I mean how far we can go with over protection. Can we create a balance between overprotecting and totally ignoring our child?
One of the big issues that I noticed that it totally destroys the life of the blind person is this over protection issue. Some mothers deal with their blind child as if he or she is fragile, it easily breaks; sensitive that’s why they try to protect it as possible as they can to avoid damaging this
Fragile glassy thing. What those mothers don’t understand is that they are actually damaging and destroying this valuable treasure they have. Let us explore some types of over protection:
Some parents think that they should keep their children away from the interaction with the outside world. They think it may be stressful or painful to the child if he gets exposed to strangers. it may be so, however, if he doesn’t get engaged in the community where he lives now, I assure you that he / she will never be able to deal with any stressful situation when he / she becomes adult. In fact, you harvest what you plant no more no less. Try to build the confidence in your blind child, try to let him gain confidence in his / her capabilities as a normal person. This will never happen except if you yourself have this confidence that your blind child is a normal one.
Another example is that we should do the daily activities for our child: feed him / her, put on his / her clothes, cleaning and arranging his / her room. Believe me when your child grows up, he / she will never be able to take care of him / herself. They will be pampered and really become disabled and helpless.

Don’t be afraid to teach your blind daughter son to use the stove; don’t be ashamed to introduce your blind child to the society. It is not a matter of why but it is a matter of how, I mean the techniques that you should use for teaching him/her. What a blind child needs is just different way of teaching. For example, instead of see this, you would use hear this, smell this, feel this depending on the thing that you are trying to explain. Remember that most of our children’s experience, they get it actually through observing the sighted people. That’s why you need to be patient and not to give up easily; otherwise you will pay a high price for that later on.

Blind child and Leisure time

The childhood days are the best ever in any person’s life, no commitment, no responsibilities, no complicated thoughts. I still remember those days when I was a child and play in everything and with everything. I still remember when my leg was broken because I decided to be an adult lady by wearing my mom’s high heel shoes or when I used to play with my nice lovely cat with a small bill in her neck.  O! How terrific those days were!

Those nice memories brought an important question to my attention. How can a blind child spend his / her leisure time? Is it something different from what we usually do with our normal sighted children?

Definitely childhood period is as an important for a blind child as it is for the sighted one. Parents should encourage their children to discover their talents and hobbies in order to develop and improve them. Improving and developing those hobbies will enhance the level of confidence and independence for your blind child.

In fact, you don’t need so much adaptation for your blind child to enjoy his / her leisure activities.

Let us talk about some of the nice things that you could do for your child.

  • Playing music – It is one of the very common hobbies among blind people specially if the child has the talent and his / her parents supported that. You may buy your child a small piano, flute or violin to practice his / her hobbies.
  • Singing – it is also a nice hobby so why you don’t find your child a center or a place in which children practice and learn singing.
  • Creating shapes using clay – it is a wonderful tool to familiarize your child with different shapes and it also maximizes using his / her tactile sense. When I was at school, I used to make a big mess using clay sometimes 🙂
  • Playing with Lego and building blocks – it is actually my favorite; I like to play with it even until now. I am this terrible aunt who sometimes pretends that she wants to play with her niece with Lego then she ends up taking all of them and plays with them. . Lego is very important especially if the child has some sight, it will teach him / her how to match the colors and create different shapes.
  • Beep balls – for those of you who don’t know the beep ball, it is another form of baseball for the blind. Blind individual usually start playing this when they are teenagers.
  • Reading – It goes without saying that reading can form your child’s intellectual abilities. Try to figure out if your child prefers to listen to books through audio players or perhaps through large print or Braille. I personally recommend large print or brail because it will develop the style of writing and spelling for your blind child.
  • Domino and cards – a blind child can play the normal domino by touching and counting the wholes that exist in each one. In addition, you may use Braille or large print cards to play with your visually impaired or blind child.

Those were some of the simple, accessible, available tools and games which can enable your blind child to enjoy his / her leisure time. You also can Think about other ways and let us know. Let’s play now!

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.