Future Reflections Summer 2000, Vol. 19 No. 2
Reprinted from a winter issue of Advocacy in Action, The NFB of Ohio Parents Division newsletter. Pat and her family have participated in many NFB of Ohio events over the last several years. Here is what she has to say about her breakthrough moment:
youngest, who is seven years old and blind, announced today that she
wants to be a painter when she grows up. My first reaction was that all-too-familiar, gut wrenching, sick feeling I get when the realization that she really is blind hits me. I didnít have the heart to tell her she couldnít be a painter because she was blind.
I wandered around the house, more or less moping about the whole thing, when it struck me that a painter isnít necessarily a painter, as in still life or portrait pictures. She could be a painter that painted in textures. She could paint her impression of the world in textures or whatever she chooses.
Here I am, thinking Iím one of the worldís biggest advocates for normal lives for special kids, falling into the stereotypical trap of what people can and cannot do. Since Iíve been doing some serious thinking about how to convince both of my childrenís teachers that theyíre more normal than abnormal, the irony of what had just happened was significant.
The ingrained and learned prejudices donít go away just because of one incident, or even a dozen. They are so deeply imbedded in many of us that some of the decisions we make arenít necessarily based on our new awareness of the world of disabilities all of the time. If I, a parent, can forget about the need to be creative and innovative, how can I expect her teacher not to forget?
As parents we have to have ongoing communications with those who teach our children and share our ideas with them. We also have to stay on our toes and try not to fall back into the same old traps of setting limits on what our children can do.
I am sometimes amazed at many of the strategies my friends come up with when they are interacting with my children. They do things and explain things differently than I would, but it works. Sometimes I think parents can get so involved that they canít always see the forest for the trees. Weíre so involved with our kids that we tend to overlook some areas.
Once I realized how mistaken Iíd been about my first reaction, I mentally kicked myself soundly and went back into the living room to tell her that, yes, she could be a painter. In fact, she can be anything she wants to be, with a little imagination.
Later the same evening, as I was giving her father a haircut, she said she wanted to learn to cut his hair. I didnít say no, but I will have to give this one some serious thought. But, hey, itís his hair!