To the Parents Whose Child Was Just Diagnosed With Blindness
I can only imagine your feelings as you’ve been thrown into this whole new adventure of life with a visually impaired child. There will be joy, sadness, determination, frustration and triumph throughout this new journey you now face, but please remember you aren’t alone. Here are four things I want you to know as a person who is legally blind:
1. It’s OK to feel sad, scared and uncertain of the future.
You more than likely never imagined your child would be visually impaired, and now a doctor has given you a diagnosis you may not even be able to pronounce, but everything will be OK. It’s more than OK to be scared and to feel uncertainty for what the future holds. Chances are you don’t know anyone who’s blind or has a child who’s blind, but I can promise you there are thousands of successful people who are blind all over the world. Blindness will now be a part of your life forever, and it will change your life, but for the better.
2. Reach out and find what services are available.
First of all, find an eye doctor you love, trust and who knows your child’s diagnosis. Do some research and ask around about what services are available for your child nationally and in your town and state.
Ask about early intervention services, support groups and awareness organizations. Most eye conditions have national organizations dedicated to awareness and support for a specific diagnosis. The more services you take advantage of the better. Meeting others who have your child’s eye condition and/or parents of children who have it will be one of the most rewarding, educating and supportive things you do.
3. Don’t limit your child and always let them try.
Your child is a child first and can do most everything any other child can do, with a few modifications. Your child will set their own limits as they grow and develop into an individual just like any sighted child would. Let your child grow and blossom beyond their disability and become who they want to be. If your child wants to try baseball, let them try. If your child wants to try to learn to ride a bike, let them try. If your child says they can do something on their own, let them. Your child will learn to figure out what help they’ll need and what they can and can’t do. Your child may surprise you; the sky really is the limit.
4. You will become an advocate.
Being a parent of a child with a disability means you’ll have to do quite a lot of advocating for your child until they’re able to do so for themselves. The world isn’t designed for people who are blind or visually impaired, and because of this, advocating for your child’s needs and best interests will become a part of your everyday life. Your child has certain rights pertaining to their education and may be eligible for specific services.
To receive most of these services, advocacy is needed on your child’s behalf. As your child grows and matures, he or she will begin to be able to advocate on their own needs — let them. Self-determination and advocacy skills are extremely important for your child to learn and develop. Once your child is ready, support them as they advocate for themselves until they’re able to do it on their own.
Teach your child they have a voice and can use it to advocate for what they need to succeed. (If you ever get to a point where you need legal help, there are organizations that provide services free of charge.)
The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? If you’d like to participate, please check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.