Future Reflections                                                                                                 Fall, 2003

(back) (next) (contents)

Blind Students Give Advice

Editorís Note: Those of you who attended the 2002 or 2003 NFB Convention in Louisville may remember meeting the capable, friendly parent leaders of the Kentucky Parents of Blind Children (KY/POBC) affiliate who worked so hard behind the scenes to make the convention activities for parents a success. The affiliate also publishes a very lively and informative newsletter called Parentsí ďWritesĒ. The following item is from a regular feature in the newsletter called ďProblem Solving.Ē Each issue presents a problem from a parent with a request for readers to write in and offer suggestions. The problem and the best suggestions are published in the following issue. Reprinted below are the problem and the advice from blind students from the Winter 2002 issue of Parentsí ďWritesĒ:

Problem:

My three-year-old daughter is totally blind, with only a bit of light perception. She is very smart and very cute. But lately, she has been showing some bad behaviors that I want to control. Sheís talking back to adults, doesnít want to be told what to do, is stubborn, and starting to be aggressive. Since sheís so little, people think sheís cute, and because sheís blind they pity her. But I know that this behavior wonít be cute for very long and I donít want her to use blindness as an excuse. Iím afraid people will start seeing her as a brat. Help!!

Stephanie, Chaplin, Kentucky

Thanks to English teacher, Judy Chaney, of the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB), for putting this problem to her high school English students for possible solutions. Here are responses provided by her seniors:

Dear Mom in Chaplin,

As a visually impaired person, I understand what you are going through. I used to be very bossy when I was little. My father thought it was cute but my mother did not. So she would punish me and tell me that it was not nice to be bossy and that I would not have very many friends if I continued acting like this. I did not listen to her and found out the hard way. You should not treat your child any differently than you would a child that has full vision. You should punish her when she does things wrong and tell her that she should never use her vision as a crutch.

Sincerely, Stephanie Brown

Dear Mom in Chaplin,

When I was three, I tried the same thing. Since I was visually impaired I thought if I made people feel sorry for me that they would give me what I wanted. When they didnít I acted up. One day my mother sat me down and told me that how I acted reflected on how I was raised. She explained to me that if people felt sorry for me they would lose respect for me. What she said wouldnít have affected me as much, but she reinforced it. She took my allowance, all five dollars of it, and put it in a jar. Every time I was bad, she took a quarter out of it. Hereís the catch. My mom said you shouldnít get rewarded for being good-itís something you should do automatically-so when I was good she didnít put any money in. Another thing my mother did was to raise me like I was not visually impaired. I had chores, I had to keep my room clean, and I did it all on my own. I hope this advice helps you.

Sincerely, Brian Mullins

Dear Mom in Chaplin,

One of the best things my parents ever did for me as a child was treat me just like my little sister who did have all of her vision. They taught me that I was just like all other children, but with a visual impairment. Everyone is different from everyone else, thatís what makes life interesting. Sure, I tripped and fell a few times, but I learned how to catch myself along the way. So my suggestion is that you treat your daughter like you would any child. Donít be afraid to discipline her just because sheís visually impaired and cute as a button. It may take a little while, but itís better to correct something now than later when sheís a teenager. I know people who have let their children use something as a crutch for when they didnít want to do some thing and for a while it worked. But when that child got older, friends started disliking her laziness. That child had to learn the hard way that using something-anything-as a crutch isnít cute one bit. So, good luck to you and your daughter in all you do.

Sincerely, Jamie Dunham

Dear Mom in Chaplin,

Your daughter is acting like any other three-year-old. She is just trying to find out what her limits are. My advice to you is to set limits of what you will and wonít take from her and stick by those limits. She needs to have rules and punishments as well. You should not treat her like she is a blind child. It will make her stronger and more independent if you treat her like you would any other child. If you donít treat her differently, then chances of her acting differently or using the excuse that she is blind are slim. My parents treated me no differently from my brother and sister. If anything, they were harder on me. Do not be afraid of punishing her. She will thank you for it when she is older.

Sincerely, Kathy Garrett

Dear Mom in Chaplin,

Being visually impaired, there are a few words of advice that I can offer from my own childhood experience. First of all, donít think of your child as blind. Treat her like you would any other kid. For example, when your daughter is defiant or stubborn, you should talk to her or put her in time-out. You also mentioned that your daughter was smart. I think you should harness this trait by keeping her mind occupied. You can do this by purchasing sound books and voice-activated learning games. I knew a guy in high school that used his visual impairment as an excuse to turn in late assignments. Currently, the same person is unemployed and collecting from the government. Donít worry, some of this behavior expressed by your daughter is normal for her age and sheíll probably turn out to be a caring woman just like her mother.

Sincerely, Joseph Miller

Dear Mom in Chaplin,

Your daughter is no different from any other child her age; behavior wise, she is right on track. The talking back to adults is one thing most three-year-olds go through; but if it isnít stopped, it could get worse. Iím not a parent, but I do have a three-year-old brother. Blindness is not a good excuse for acting this way, but it is the only excuse she has. Donít let her get by with it. She needs discipline. When it comes to discipline, she should not be treated any differently from the other kids. Donít let her feel different because she will act different and use blindness as her excuse for the rest of her life.

Sincerely, Ashley Courts

To the Concerned Mother in Chaplin,

One of your concerns is that your child talks back to adults. One solution is to send her to her room for a punishment and afterwards talk to her about why this disrespect is not appropriate. To deal with her unwillingness to respond when told to do something, try explaining to her the reasons you are giving her the task. Often children respond better to requests than to orders. You also expressed concern over your daughterís aggressiveness. If it stems from her overwhelming amount of energy, then a possible means of release might be a physical activity where she can redirect and focus her energy in a positive way.

Sincerely, Tyler Young

Other KSB students in grades 9-11 offered additional helpful comments:

When I was five, I lost a race to my cousins and blamed it on my blindness. It got me a good scolding and gave my cousins a good laugh. Now I have run and won many races and I donít use my blindness as an excuse. I use it to my advantage.

Lisa Kraushar, 9th grade

If you treat your child like she is different, she will grow up thinking she can get away with things because of her impairment.

Brice Howard, 10th grade

When my mom found out I was legally blind she still treated me like normal because she loves me.

Timmy Mills, 10th grade

She could just be going through a phase that kids tend to go through at that age. I hope this makes you feel better about your child and about being a good parent.

Jamie Weedman, 11th grade

Your daughter is just like every other child so you should treat her like every other kid.

Chris Dahmke, 10th grade

Over the years I have learned that people who fear getting in trouble stay out of trouble until good behavior becomes a habit.

Brian Moore, 11th grade

If you show your daughter that you are the boss, then more than likely she will do what you ask her to do.

Heath Hagan, 11th grade

Donít worry if people start to see her as a brat-that will be good because itís going to make her stop her bad behavior faster.

Jason Dowell, 11th grade

I think you should take one or two of her favorite toys until she decides to straighten up.

Brandy Morris, 11th grade

I suggest that you treat your child like any other kid her age and teach the people that she is around the most to treat her the same way.

Samantha Levering, 9th grade

Understand why your daughter is behaving like this (to get attention, a problem at home, etc.) and try and work out a way to get this to stop.

Zach Patton, 9th grade

I think you need to make sure your child knows who the boss is.

Joe Godsey, 10th grade

You could stop her by punishing her so she knows not to use blindness as an excuse.

Leslie Limp, 10th grade

(back) (next) (contents)