Parenthood is a beautiful but strenuous journey. We would have to admit, parenting is pretty hard, and it is not as easy as it seems.
However, it is most difficult when you have to raise a child with special needs, including a gifted child. This is why we have this article compile to educate parents on how to raise a blind child.
Raising a blind child could be quite challenging and sometimes emotional because the child doesn’t have the opportunity to see concrete things or live life like other children.
The feeling that the child is being deprived of one of the basic senses, sight, can be saddening sometimes. It could also have emotional effects on both the child and the parents or caregivers.
If you are currently raising a child who unfortunately is suffering from visual impairment, then you might be anxiously thinking about what to do, how you can help your child, or how you can help make your child not feel left out.
You are probably reading this article because you need answers to many questions. In this article, there are listed tips to help you raise a healthy child even though the child may be blind.
Nevertheless, we must first learn the challenges that you may encounter and how to overcome them.
The challenges of raising a blind child
Every child is a gift, and it is our responsibility to take care of them. The growth and development of a child is a progressive journey that we, as parents and caregivers, should be actively involved in.
However, for children with special needs, the journey is not the same as with other children.
Special needs children require special attention. Visual impaired and blind children are inclusive, and the challenges are, although difficult, but not impossible to overcome. They include:
The difficulty of learning basic things
As humans, we quickly learn by mere observations, and children are dominantly moved and influenced by what they see. Teaching a child some necessary chores and self-care, first of all, would include you showing them how to do it—for instance, the basic technique of brushing one’s teeth.
In teaching healthy children, you have to demonstrate and let them practice under your guidance, and over time they will pick up doing it perfectly well.
Children who are blind require a different approach as they can’t learn by mere visual demonstration. Because their sense of sight is compromised, their other senses may be much alive than the average child.
Parents or guidance can teach these children with the other available senses and, in this case, brushing the teeth by sense of touch.
They can be shown to touch the toothbrush, feel for the bristles, feel the toothpaste, the water, and more. They can be verbally instructed (if the child is not deaf too) and shown under careful guidance.
Over time, they would pick and would not need your help in doing that for themselves. Due to this challenge, they are slower learners than the average child that can see.
Due to their limited vision, these children need to touch objects around them. Figuratively, their other senses, especially their sense of touch and hearing, are their eyes.
As children, they would do a lot of bending to feel what is beneath them, and that makes them more likely to develop a posture that is not good to look at. If not corrected soon, they may grow a severe postural defect, which could result in a hunched back.
You can help this situation by reminding the child to sit and stand straight while physically helping them to maintain a healthy posture.
Raising a blind child can come as emotional stress to both the child and the person looking after them. The child could get teased or bullied for being blind, and this affects the child emotionally, making them feel sad, vulnerable, unworthy, left out, and depressed.
This is also an emotional stressor to the caregivers or parents because they would want nothing but their child to be happy and see the world.
To handle this situation, you are advised to be the support your child needs. Also, ensure to deal with bully cases directed as soon as possible.
Always talk it out with your child and make sure that they feel better. You may involve a therapist if you or your child need professional help.
The vulnerability that comes with being blind can be overwhelming at times.
The fact that the blind individual cannot see near or far off dangers means that bullies and other mean people may prey on them because of their disadvantage.
As a parent, the kind of burden that this can cause you can be extreme. The thought of others preying on your child’s disability with you having little or no say over the occurrence can be depressing.
To help this situation, you need trusted support to look after your child while you are away.
Tips on how to raise a blind child
The following are listed tips on how to raise a blind child to be healthy growing up:
Sometimes, life as a whole can be overwhelming, and there is no shame in getting help. This makes raising a blind child less stressful.
You can have people who could serve as reliable friends, another parent with a special needs child, or a support group to help you pull through.
There are both online and offline support groups available, and you are free to choose any of your choices.
Read up articles that relate to visual impairment
Reading up on reliable information relating to visual impairment and articles that educate you on raising a blind child.
You can read up on the best and available teaching aids for special needs children to know what would best favor your child. You can also read up on quotes to make your child feel better.
There are also hacks to teach them how to be more independent, so they can be able to take care of themselves to an extent when you are no longer available.
Pieces of information like these are practically everywhere. They can be found in medical journals, flyers, and handouts from your therapists, reliable sites on the internet, and more.
Improve the personal and social relationship of the child
At infancy, squeaky toys are mostly recommended for blind infants because they can interact with them even though they cannot see. Squeaky toys are interesting to touch, and they make exciting sounds, which could make them giggle.
You can also join in the play as you relate with your child. As the child grows, you can engage them in safe and simple activities to keep them busy. Activities like rolling a ball, swinging, or slide all under adult supervision are also useful.
You can also have a decent conversation with your child. This helps in strengthening your bond as well as improving the child’s social skills.
Join and commune in related organizations
Organizations, both private and government-owned, are present and available to help you and your child. Some with the cheap and affordable membership fee and many are free.
These organizations are established to give you the necessary support that you need. Most of them include introductory package containing the essential information and resources once you become a member.
You can also make friends with other parents there. These organizations may include your state’s Commission for the Blind (Not every state has one, but most states do), National Federation for the Blind, National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI), Foundation Fighting Blindness, and National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC).
Educating the people around you will help you understand what it’s like for the child and what it is like to raise a blind child.
This will decrease the chances of the child being bullied and will also make it easier for them to lend you a helping hand whenever they could.
They are also likely to befriend your child as well as being cautious while interacting with your child. You can do this by having simple talks with them or printing up some easy-to-read fact leaflets and giving them out to them to read and learn.
Take a break and rest
To a large extent, the child is still dependent on you up to a much longer time. Therefore, from time to time, you are required to take a break and rest because resting is essential.
Considering how exhausting and overwhelming raising a blind child is, you are required to get some rest, so you don’t overdo yourself.
Special needs education and aids
Due to their condition, they cannot be educated the way sighted children are.
Because they are special needs children, they need special needs education, which will help them learn by mastering their special aids such as braille, 508 Document Remediation Services, Audio, Large Print, and many more.
Having a child with special needs is highly challenging for parents who have to raise these children. The challenges that you and the child go through can be overwhelming at times, but the truth remains that the child is still a gift and should be treated normally only with their special attention.
With the above tips and support from friends and family, you are most likely to comfortably raise a blind child to grow into a healthy adult.