Future Reflections March/ April 1983, Vol. 2 No. 2

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Question from Oct/Nov. 1982 issue:

Q. I am the mother of a blind daughter, Nancy, who is 18 months old. Nancy is having problems eating. She is still taking her foods completely of an oatmeal texture. I would like to know if anyone else had this problem with their children. Another problem is that Nancy is not crawling yet. We were very concerned about this and so were her physical therapist and teacher at school. We took her to a neurologist, who evaluated her and said he saw no other problems. He said she just needs more time.

A: Though my son did not have this problem --I feel it is entirely due to the way I approached it. In raising our son and also having twin girls 13 months younger --I did not want any unnecessary disruptions. I wanted to keep everything as normal as possible. So from the very beginning, I introduced foods to him exactly as I did to my sighted babies and since I was consistent, he ate when he got hungry enough. Now, at seven he has a voracious appetite. In other words, I realized that though his eyes were blind and things had to be adapted --his mouth and taste buds were entirely normal, and if I did not allow him to be sensitized from the beginning that was one hurdle I wouldn't have to overcome.

... From Nancy Dean, Sacramento, California. Nancy's blind son is seven years old.

A: First, was Nancy premature? If she was, you can expect many of her stages of development to be slower than your other children. Is the reason Nancy is not eating normal table foods because she chokes? Is it that she has not learned to chew? Let her feel your mouth; tell her what you are doing, even if you know she can't understand all of what you say; give her things like vanilla wafers and soda crackers in her hand (not in her mouth). Sooner or later, her hand will find its way to her mouth and she will discover that they taste good. Tell her it is to eat. Yum, yum!

Now about the moving. Perhaps the most important thing in dealing with a blind child is that you have to show them everything. You need to get down there on the floor with her and show Nancy that she really does want to crawl. Give her a reason to want to move.

... From Susan Ford of Missouri Susan's blind son is now an active, competitive seven-year-old.

A: You have to be very persistent and ignore the gagging. It's best to try table food when they are very hungry. Try foods with a very tangy taste like potato chips or pimento cheese sandwich. Save meats for when he's real good at eating rough textures. It took us about three months of trying everyday to get him to eat foods with texture.

As for crawling, our Nick is just beginning to move a little. We started out by making a game out of rocking on his hands and knees. We got more movement out of him by praising him and encouraging him than trying to coax him with toys.

... From the Payne's of South Carolina who have a two-year-old son, Nick, totally blind from birth.

A: The "two-bite-rule" has been in effect in our home as long as children have been eating. Every child is required to try two bites of anything that is served. Over a period of time our children have learned to eat almost anything set before them. I don't really know if any one of our children (including one blind from birth) have had any trouble with textures. They certainly don't now!

As for the crawling, our son was premature and didn't crawl well until he was well over a year. He walked when he was almost two and became potty trained when almost four. He is an individual and has developed at his own rate. I feel certain that as long as a child is encouraged and reinforced for his efforts he will develop at his own speed and all the worry or forcing in the world will not make anything happen any faster. My advise is to keep your expectations high and work at your goals for Nancy consistently.

... From Glenda Smith, Idaho. She has a friendly, outgoing l4-year-old son who will soon have his Eagle Scout Award.

Q: Our Nicky just turned two and he's not walking. He's pulling-up and making his way around his play pen. We need to know how to get him walking alone. He needs balance in his upper torso and to loosen up his knees and legs so they aren't so stiff. Any little tricks we can use will be appreciated.

... From Paula Payne of South Carolina

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