Educated By Life
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by Emily Coleman on 6/7/2012 11:21:11 PM
When Eddie was born, I am not exaggerating when I say he really was the first blind person I met. To me, our situation was very unique, because I knew absolutely no other person I could talk to that could relate to our new parenting adventure. Not only could I not call up a parent of a child who was blind, I didn’t even know anybody that had a child with special needs. I am sure many of you found yourselves in the same situation.
Now, when I look around my life, I am surrounded by people that have children like mine, or similar to mine. I know people with children that have visual impairments, and we laugh about similar experiences that happen to those in our special club. Even though my education in the world of blindness has grown immensely, I remember when I wasn’t so “worldly.”
There was a time I would have been the annoying stranger that was gawking at your children. I would have seen a little boy or girl with a cane and felt a mixture of sadness and maybe even pity for that child. I think of that person I was, and I was extremely ignorant about the world of special needs. I had no experiences, and therefore could not relate at all to other people raising these unique youngsters.
Now, I have surrounded myself with parents, teachers, and friends like me. Sometimes, when I enter a room and introduce Eddie, and state that he is blind, I will hear, “my child, too.” Suddenly, this kid who used to be extremely unique in my eyes is just like many of the kids I know and work with every day.
Even though I now feel just as comfortable with children that have special needs, as I do with those that do not, I try to remember a time when I was less knowledgeable. When strangers seem to be gawking, or asking too many questions, I remind myself to be friendly and honest about Eddie. Instead of being bitter, which I sometimes am, I decide to be an educator.
If Eddie was the first blind person I ever met, he certainly will be the first blind person many other people meet as well. His blindness may not be unique to me anymore, and those in my circle, but he will always be unique to somebody. Hopefully, the memory he leaves with people, and we as his parents leave with people, will be a positive one. That way, the next time they see another child with a visual impairment they won’t be intimidated, and maybe will be brave enough to simply say, “Hello.”
There are currently 5 comments
Re: Educated By LifePosted by Susan Spungin on 6/8/2012 7:40:56 AM
You say it all so beautifully! You are a fift To your chil and many parents with and without challenges. THank you for sharing! Susan Spungin
Re: Educated By LifePosted by Jolandilab on 6/13/2012 4:49:11 AM
Hi. My little girl is also the first blind person I met and the first being with special needs so I can totally relate to what you wrote. I once was ignorant, but now I am not anymore and I find myself wishing the rest of the world also weren't.
Re: Educated By LifePosted by fields7667 on 6/13/2012 12:17:12 PM
Emily - I love following your column. I didn't know if you have seen the new series of Master Chef on Fox TV. I'm not big on Chef Ramsay fan but there is a contestant who is visually impaired. It's been interesting watching her the past two weeks. They don't show much of her but it's cool to see someone with a disability compete on a reality show like this one.
Re: Educated By LifePosted by EmColeman on 6/13/2012 12:26:45 PM
I just read about that in the paper. It sounded very cool. I am definitely going to try and check it out. Thanks for the posting!
Re: Educated By LifePosted by Nicos_Momma on 6/28/2012 1:02:12 PM
I have just set up a profile on this site and thank goodness I found you. I think that I need to catch up, but you are 'real'. I am learning to talk to the gawkers. It's tough because I always get,"awww". I don't really care for that; but what else are they going to say? I try to just say it very casual like, "Oh he's just blind", when people say "what is wrong with him?". Because honestly there is nothing 'wrong' with him, he's perfect! Anyway, thanks for sharing your story.
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