FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice
by Shannon Carollo
Elementary shirts are decorated with 100 gemstones, pompoms, or googly eyes; kinder snack bags are filled with ten groups of ten snacks; the more fearless in the classroom are decked out as to look 100 years old; and you know it, our kiddos are “100 Days Smarter” (say poster boards in classrooms across America).
I love that most elementary schools celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s a fun reason to get hands-on with a variety of 100 manipulatives, and it’s a reminder to students, parents, and teachers that we’ve more than crossed the half-way threshold of the school year.
We’ve summited the mountain; we’re headed down. Yet, every Everest climber knows (or so I’m told), 80 percent of Everest-climbing fatalities occur on the way down. All the energy is expended on the ascent and reserves are spent.
Now thankfully fatalities are not our concern, but we can learn from those daring Everest climbers, of which you will never find my name. We’re all tired. We. Are. Done. (Can I get an Amen?!) I’m thinking it’s a good idea, necessary even, to implement a break and self-care and continue until we cross the 2017-2018 school year (ahem, expedition).
You heard me. Take a break. Plan that Spring Break getaway or maybe better yet, staycation. Take two weeks off of therapies, sports, or lessons. Just relax and regroup and be.
Now for self-care. Parents and teachers, you know what you need. Gym membership or home gym time? Haircut and pedicure? A full day of hiking, quilting, wood working, or why not, sleeping? Make it happen.
Only after you’re well rested, come up with a plan to finish the school year with success. That resource is a good one; you’ll be reminded that you, parents, are your child’s strongest advocate. You’ll learn your rights and understand how to best work with your child’s teachers and service providers. You’ll also identify your child’s blindness-specific needs from elementary school to the transition to adulthood.
Know that we at AFB are here to support you. I’ll be your Sherpa and you have the Message Board to connect with other parents of children and teens with vision loss.
Resources for Your Child's Educational Needs
by Shannon Carollo
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.
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.
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:
- Parents of Grade Schoolers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
- Parents of Blind Teenagers
- Orientation and Mobility
- Parenting a Blind Child: Birth to Age Six
- Questions About Parenting a Blind Child
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.
by Shannon Carollo
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
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!
by AFB Staff
"Cultivate love for love is the light that gives the eye to see great and noble things." —Helen Keller
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.
Get Creative in the Kitchen
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!
by Shannon Carollo
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?
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
- Social Life and Recreation
- Planning for the Future
- Low Vision
- In the News
- Personal Reflections
- News from FamilyConnect
- Orientation and Mobility
- Arts and Leisure
- Online Tools
- Getting Around
- Ask the Experts
- Readers Want to Know
- Home Schooling
- Social Skills
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Cortical Visual Impairment
- Assistive Technology
- Public Policy
- Home modification
- Support Groups