We All Learn From Each Other
Investigate an early intervention program through your pediatrician and/or state department of health, and/or your local school district. The ideal program should involve a blend of time spent at the early intervention center, with other children, and home visits from the teacher of students who are visually impaired to work with your child and with you.
It is important for everyone to remember that you, the parent, are your child's primary teacher, and that you need to learn also. Stimulate your baby as much as you can. Talk all the time so that your baby knows where you are. Babies are great listeners!
"Jameyanne is in the living room and Mommy's in the kitchen. I'm coming to get you!"
"Mommy is going to turn on the coffee grinder—here it goes now." (This is an important one, because some sounds can be frightening if they are not anticipated.)
"Mommy is going to carry you down the hall to your room to change your diaper."
"Let's dance from the kitchen to the living room."
These are the first steps to orienting your child to him- or herself and to his or her place in the surrounding environment. Teach your baby your own home—your familiar home is the best place to start orientation. Call your baby from one room to another—keep calling as she crawls toward you to keep her following your voice—reward him with kisses and he'll give them back. Keep singing and dancing with your baby. Make it fun: It's going to be a long dance.
I encourage you to get involved with other parents through early intervention and a parents' group such as the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI). We learn so much from one another, parents and children. Keep talking to your child. Your talking will have an impact, so be sure that it is positive. Your tone will tell it all: Let your self-esteem shine through your voice and enrich your child.
Mary E. Fuller
Mother of a 15-year-old daughter with aniridia glaucoma
Concord, New Hampshire