Being Organized Helps Parents of Blind or Visually Impaired Children

By Anne McComiskey

The following scenarios may feel familiar. In each scenario, a lack of pre-planning leaves the family member discombobulated. In each, they lose an opportunity to be in control and learn how to help their child.

The Center Ring—Meeting: Mom has an early meeting scheduled before getting to work...it's the third meeting this week about her young son and important. As she runs out the door she grabs her keys and purse. Flustered she finds and unwrinkles a paper with the address and suite number. The traffic is dense, and she doesn't really know where the place is.

A few wrong turns later she wheels into the parking lot, goes pell-mell to the front desk to sign in. She is ushered to the meeting room where the meeting is in progress. She sinks into a nearby seat, taking a deep breath. And then she tries to remember what this particular meeting is about and why it's important. She mentally scrolls through possibilities and decides that as the meeting goes along she'll figure it out. She is introduced to the others in the room. The meeting continues and during the conversations there are a lot of words and letters being mentioned that seem like another language, adding to her confusion. The leader person turns to her and asks what she would like the outcome of this meeting to be. She mumbles that she's unsure at this time. The meeting ends and everyone leaves. She gathers her purse and keys and hurriedly says good-bye to the others to leave for work.

Ring Two—Doctor's Appointment: Grandpa's young granddaughter has yet another doctor's appointment. It's the third appointment with a doctor this week.

He gathers little girl and all her 'stuff,' checks on the bottle and extra diapers, ponders a stroller and decides not to bother. Once in the car he looks for the directions and doctor's name. Battling traffic, he chats with Missy and considers the best route to where this office might be. Once in the lot he unloads everything and his granddaughter, and finds the suite for the doctor's office. He juggles Little Darling on his hip as he signs in. After all, the business of insurance cards and forms and questions he and Cutie find a seat and stare at the silly program on the TV in the waiting room.

(There's a reason they're called WAITING rooms). Miss Priss gets fussy and needs a diaper change. He finds the family rest room, changes her, gets re-settled in the waiting room, and waits. Finally he is shown into an exam room where he sees the doctor who introduces herself, is sweet to Little Girl and does her exam. The doctor says a few things about how cute the child is, and how she is doing, and quickly leaves the room.

Grandpa picks up Sweetie Pie and heads to the exit and one more appointment.

Ring Three—Teacher/Specialist Sessions: Mom has Little Bit enrolled in an early intervention/therapy/play program that meets regularly. Today she is in a meeting at work when her phone buzzes. It's the program. "Is everything alright?" she hears a nervous voice ask. RATS! She forgot all about the program and babe was at the sitters. DOUBLE RATS!

Every parent has too much to do. But still, the meetings, appointments and programs are essential to helping their little child. Some days feel like it's all just too hard to balance. Parents may feel like they are a one person high wire act with no net. The balancing, juggling and fire eating feels overwhelming and too much. How can parents balance all the meetings and appointments and stay in control? The answer: by being prepared.

The following key word may help in remembering how to get organized and plan ahead for any meeting whether it's with a doctor, a hair dresser, a teacher, a realtor, a therapist, a school or your family. Be prepared in order to remain in the Center Ring wearing the pretty red coat!

"P.R.E.P.A.R.E"

  • P. Purpose
    Know the Purpose or the meeting or appointment. Think about what you hope the outcomes will be. Write it down in an appointment notebook.
  • R. Review.
    Review and write down the place of the meeting with address and contact person's phone number. (Enter in your GPS) Reconfirm the time of the meeting and plan to be at least 5 minutes early.
  • E. Evaluate
    Evaluate ahead of time the important questions that you want to discuss and note them in your appointment notebook.
  • P. Plan
    Plan what you will say about your child's needs and abilities or medical needs. Jot these down in your appointment notebook.
  • A. Ask
    Ask about any terms or abbreviations you don't understand. Ask questions when you have them. Actively participate in the meeting.
  • R. Record
    Record important points, names of people, ideas and thoughts to consider in your appointment notebook.
  • E. Establish
    Establish before the meeting ends what the next step should be, who is responsible for tasks mentioned and when each item will happen. Write these on your calendar with notes in your appointment notebook.

Maybe our friends from the previous scenarios would have felt more in control, learned more about their child’s health and development and felt that they were leading the circus if they had pre-planned and used a notebook/calendar to PREPARE.

Best of luck with your particular circus this year.

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