FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice

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AFB FamilyConnect Message Boards: Why and How to Use Them

You already know, blindness and visual impairments are low incidence disabilities. Most likely, you, parents and family members of babies, children, and teens with vision loss, are undertaking the parenting journey alongside few other (or no other) parents of children with vision loss. As such, I want to make you aware of one avenue to support and connect with each other: AFB FamilyConnect’s Message Boards.

Emily Coleman and her husband and children

Why They’re Useful

You have questions. Perhaps some include: Whether or not your child with low vision should be receiving blindness services, the relevance of braille for your child, and how to prevent bullying a child who is blind.

You have suggestions. Maybe you have an Orientation and Mobility resource, a good motivator for your child who refuses the cane, or homeschooling advice.

The FamilyConnect message boards provide a place for your questions and suggestions. You’ll find listening ears and supportive words; you’ll also be a listening ear and share supportive words to other parents of children who are blind or visually impaired.

How to Use Them

You’ll need to be a registered member of FamilyConnect; sign up for free.

Once on the FamilyConnect message board, you can utilize the most appropriate forum. The forums include:

After selecting the most appropriate forum for your question or suggestion, scroll to the end of the page to add a new comment. You can also browse the comments and questions and join the existing conversations!

If any message board is particularly relevant to you, subscribe to the board (the link is found on the right of the page), and you’ll receive an e-mail notification as the board is utilized. Don’t worry, you can stop tracking the board at any time.

Join the conversations; be the community.


Topics:
News from FamilyConnect
Online Tools
Social Skills

An Introduction to Your Child’s Specific Eye Condition

You are told your child may have a visual impairment; your world halts. You are left with questions and an emotional roller-coaster.

You want to know:

  • A description of the possible eye condition
  • How it is diagnosed
  • If there are treatments
  • How it affects one’s eyesight
  • How one functions with this eye condition
  • Resources for families

Where to Turn

child at an eye exam

If this describes you, it’s time to visit AFB FamilyConnect to browse by eye condition. We updated this section from basic definitions of the most common eye conditions to an in-depth look at the most common eye conditions. Our goal was to answer the above questions.

Next, you’ll want to read After the Diagnosis: For Parents of Child Just Diagnosed with Blindness. You’ll learn how to work with your child’s medical professionals and how to adapt your home; you’ll receive an overview of services for children with visual impairments and a list of helpful products and toys; and lastly, you’ll read success stories of those living well with vision loss.

Join the FamilyConnect Community

Join the FamilyConnect community and connect with other families who have children with the same eye condition as your own. You can choose to receive e-mail alerts for events and activities near you, as well as tips for living with vision loss, new articles, blog posts, and announcements relevant to you and your family.

Connect with others on the message boards—join in the discussions or start a new topic of your own. Track your favorite message boards and blogs by email!


Topics:
Low Vision
News from FamilyConnect
Planning for the Future

Happy Valentine's Day: Activities for Your Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

"Cultivate love for love is the light that gives the eye to see great and noble things." —Helen Keller

Red and white Valentine's Day card with red hearts

Every day, you are cultivating the love you have for your child who is blind or visually impaired. You spend the necessary time and effort to ensure they are receiving proper care; you advocate on their behalf so they can have access to the services they need to succeed in school and life, and you strive to give them the gift of equality by providing them with the opportunities they deserve. You do all of this and more because you don't want your child to miss out on anything simply because of his or her visual impairment. Rightfully so.

But are we letting the little things, like Valentine's Day perhaps, slip through the cracks? Because so many holidays are centered around visual experiences, we can easily forget to make the holidays accessible for our children.

This Valentine's Day, FamilyConnect encourages you to continue to cultivate the love you have for your child or teen by finding activities that you can do together. Whether you are looking for something hands-on or ways to talk to your teen about dating, here are some resources and activities to get you started.

And don't forget to share your favorite Valentine's Day activities with us on the FamilyConnect message boards.

Valentine's Day Cards and Crafts

DIY your own multisensory cards with puffy paint or scented magic markers. Give braille cards a try or teach your child how to create an eCard online. Check out Valentine's Day Card, Craft, and Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Want to get even "craftier"? Emily Coleman has a few ideas. Check out her post, Best Holiday Craft, on how you can make arts and crafts more enjoyable for your child. Her son Eddie really liked this one!

Throw in Some Braille Fun

Make braille fun by incorporating it into your child's valentines. See how Emily implemented braille with a little bit of bribery.

Heart-shaped cookies with red heart sprinkles

Get Creative in the Kitchen

Any holiday is a great time to introduce your child to the kitchen. You can work together to prepare a meal or bake some festive cookies!

Talk to Your Teen About Dating

Perhaps spending time with "the parents" isn't your teen's idea of a fun Valentine's Day. Maybe they are planning a special date. If your teen is ready to venture out into the world of dating, make sure you cover the bases of flirting and dating.


Happy Valentine's Day from FamilyConnect!


Topics:
Holidays
Independence
Social Life and Recreation
Social Skills

Preparing Your Blind Teen for a Valentine’s Date (Insert Nail-Biting!)

teenage son and his mother

Fellow parents, let’s take a minute to address our big emotions. We’re grieving the closure of childhood; excited that there may be an upcoming date; worried that they won’t behave maturely; stressed that they won’t respect all of our boundaries; concerned that hearts will be broken; anxious about their safety; not to mention we’re unsure if we’ve taught our teens all of the nuances of dating.

Deep breath. Let’s face this head-on.

Preparing Your Teen for Dating

First, if your teen is interested in dating, that’s exciting! That’s normal, as is your teen not yet wanting to date.

Whether your teen was just asked on a Valentine’s date or is considering asking a valentine to be his/her date… help your child think through the following.

You, parents, have to decide appropriate boundaries for your teen. Consider if you only want him or her to go on a group date; where are appropriate locations; when is curfew; does an adult need to drive or are you okay if your teen rides in the car of another teen?

Next, review Friendship in the Teen Years and Flirting and Dating.

The two articles address:

  • Helping your teen make friends and build connections with others.
  • Orientation and mobility skills needed for dates. [Talk about motivation to practice O&M!]
  • Age-appropriate dating.
  • How to teach flirting.
  • Addressing personal safety issues.
  • Helping your teenager develop self-esteem.
  • Using passersby and movie characters to discuss body language and displays of affection.
  • Providing realistic feedback about social skills.

Lastly, talk with your teen about:

  • How one chooses who to date.
  • How to ask another on a date, accept a request for dating, and deny a request.
  • How to handle the emotions of not getting asked on a date or having a request denied.
  • How one chooses a date location. Your teen may want to familiarize himself with the location or activity before the date.
  • The importance of good manners and good grooming.
  • Use of assistive technology and tricks for independent ordering (even if it’s asking the server, “What do you recommend on the menu?”)
  • The similarities and differences of friendship and dating.
  • The importance of consensual physical affection.
  • Personal boundaries and how to say, “No.”
  • How to leave a date if not comfortable.

What would you add to our discussion? We would all love to hear!

Resources About Dating for Your Visually Impaired Teen

Lesson Plan: Dating

Online Dating

NFB's "About Dating, Blindness, and the Little Things of Life"


Topics:
Independence
Planning for the Future
Social Life and Recreation
Social Skills

Should My Child with Low Vision Be Receiving Vision-Related Services?

A young girl reading in a school classroom with a pile of books in front of her

It’s the middle of the school year and your child with low vision (who supposedly doesn’t need a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments) is academically struggling.

While your child could be any age, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have a grade schooler and you’re seeing the result of standard print size in text books decreasing from approximately 22-point font to 12-point font.

Here's the deal: According to the law, IDEA, if you suspect your child's education is affected by a possible visual impairment (including CVI, a brain-based impairment affecting how vision is processed), your child must be assessed for all blindness-specific services.

Furthermore, if your child was assessed in years past and did not qualify, but you believe your child may now qualify for services, step forward and speak out.

What you’re experiencing is not uncommon. While a child whose only disability is total blindness will likely be easily identified as one who requires a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and travel training from a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), a child with low vision or a child with low vision and multiple disabilities may be overlooked for one or both educational service.

You now hold the key to your child receiving services. Know your rights and be an advocate for your child.

If you have a specific question or concern regarding the appropriateness of your child's services, reach out. Seek counsel by posting on the FamilyConnect message boards, commenting on this blog, or by sending a message to our familyconnect@afb.net or FamilyConnect Facebook page. We will respond. With your permission, we will also request counsel on your behalf from other parents and professionals of children who are blind or visually impaired on our Facebook page. (Thank you to the many parents and professionals who have lovingly provided direction, encouragement, and feedback.)

Lastly, the American Council of the Blind has an advocate program. If you call them at 1-800-424-8666, they will pair you with an individual who can advise you on your child's services.

Understanding Low Vision Services for Your Child

Low Vision Services: An Overview

Low Vision in Children

Low Vision Devices: An Overview

Find Low Vision Services for Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired


Topics:
Cortical Visual Impairment
Education
Low Vision
Reading
Self-Advocacy