When Your Baby or Toddler Is Visually Impaired
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Having a baby is one of life's most joyous experiences, but new parents may often feel as though their world has been turned upside down! As precious as children are, they don't arrive with a set of instructions. If you've just learned that your baby is blind or visually impaired, you may be feeling many strong, and even conflicting, emotions: from absolute love and protectiveness to shock, fear, or even anger.
Most parents of children who are visually impaired experience a range of feelings like these at first. But children with visual impairments can lead healthy, happy, and independent lives, and their families can play the key part in helping that happen. Yes, there are many new adjustments to make, but there are also many services and sources of help available to you—parents' groups, national and local organizations, as well as sympathetic and experienced professionals.
You may not know what to expect right now. But, as you'll discover, your baby is like other babies in most respects. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions that may be helpful for you as a new parent of a visually impaired child:
- If your baby can't make eye contact with you, you and he can still cuddle, get to know each other, and learn to love each other too. Be aware that other senses—touch, smell, and hearing—will help your child learn to recognize you and everything else around him.
- Rather than cooing or crying when she wants attention, your baby may be quiet. If she can't see you approach, she may be using her hearing to find out if you're nearby.
- Help your baby know what's going on around him by describing what you're doing and what may be beyond arm's reach for him.
- Early on, let your child explore the world by touching people and objects in her environment.
- Treat your baby just as you would any other child—not like a fragile toy, but as a baby—bouncing him on your knee, tickling him, and kissing him.
- Give your baby lots of opportunities to get to know other children and adults by taking her walking, shopping, and to playgrounds, swimming pools, and other community places with you.
FamilyConnect is a good starting point for getting answers to your questions and the information you need, such as: