Browse By Topic: Social Skills

Equipping Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired with Outdoor Activity Skills

Hearing shrieks of laughter and commotion outside, Jane peeked through the blinds. Ah, the neighborhood kids are playing soccer on the Biggs’ front yard. New to the street, she didn’t yet know the ages of all the children, but they looked to be between five and eight years old, similar in age to her Theo. She wondered, as she had many times before, if Theo would fit in with his peers who had typical vision. If only he could play soccer, this would be the perfect opportunity to foster friendship. As you may already know, Theo and others who are blind or visually impaired can indeed play soccer or other outdoor activities. With thoughtful preparation of accessible equipment and providing instruction in the movements, rules, and nuances of games, outdoor activities can be


Empowered to Work with Your Visually Impaired Child’s Medical Professionals

You + your child’s ophthalmologist + the pediatrician + any necessary therapists + medical specialists who manage any chronic or acute problems = your child’s robust medical professional team. You are a key member. Yet, it isn’t uncommon for parents to feel void of expertise and, therefore, to take a passive role or back seat in medical evaluations and interventions. I’m here to remind you that your child and his or her medical personnel need you, whether or not the need is acknowledged, as you are the expert on your child and the voice for your (young or nonverbal) child. The team needs you to remain informed, to advocate for your child’s needs, and oftentimes to educate them about blindness or a visual impairment. Remain Informed If


Fostering Strong, Healthy Bonds Between Siblings When One Child Has a Visual Impairment

Families who have a child who is blind or visually impaired spend much time and energy teaching concepts which would otherwise be learned incidentally, demonstrating self-care and home management skills, addressing accessibility concerns, visiting specialists, attending educational planning meetings, and responding to questions of passersby and family members. Siblings can feel forgotten. Siblings can feel bitter. Siblings can feel jealous. Siblings can feel afraid. Siblings can feel embarrassed. In an effort to address these and other potential feelings of siblings and to share how to encourage healthy relationships between siblings, I have gathered


Empowering Your Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired for Adulthood

It won’t be long before your teen is earning his own income and living independentlylet’s actually label it interdependently, as emotionally healthy adults rely on others in one way or another, albeit for friendship, paid help with house cleaning or lawn care, or general advice and support. This, of course, begs the question: how well prepared for adulthood are our teens who are blind or visually impaired? Sure, there are the important transition services at school that increase preparedness, but what more can be in play at home to ensure your teen is equipped for


Spring Break Vacation Planning Tips for Families with a Blind or Visually Impaired Child

If I could write a letter to the 2017-2018 school year, I’d probably begin with the profound words of Full House’s Uncle JesseHAVE MERCY! School assignments are intensifying, classroom germs are relentless, and we’re all dog-tired. Yet, erupting from this dry ground is the most splendid and beautiful sightspring break! My hope is you are able to take the fast-approaching week off of work and enjoy every last second of respite with your child(ren). If you’re feeling up for an adventure, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation! Here you’ll find heaps of vacation planning tips for families who have a child with a visual impairment. As suggested in


A Meaningful and Accessible Halloween for Children with Visual Impairments

Halloween is a favorite day of the year for many childrencandy, costumes, and fall activities, how could it not be?! Your child with a visual impairment can be easily included in all things Halloween and activities leading up to Halloween. Here are a few ideas. Trick-or-Treating If you choose to participate in trick or treating in your neighborhood or to attend a local community Trunk or Treat, your child may want to dress up. When picking out a costume, remember your child's preferences and how some costumes present sensory issues. There are many creative ways to


A Great Book Escape: A Multi-Sensory Adventure for Children with Visual Impairments

What if, this summer, you invite your child with a visual impairment (and any siblings) on an adventure of a lifetime. A type of summer vacation from the norm, one we’ll call a summer escape. This adventure will not require leaving the house and is ideal even when cash and time are strapped. It will, however, require pre-planning, creativity, and most of all, your enthusiasm. This summer adventure is an escape into a book. I dare


Hands-On Summer Activities for Children with Visual Impairments

Editor's Note: Today's post is from guest blogger Paula Korelitz. Paula, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), offers her suggestions for hands-on activities for your child who is visually impaired. Summer’s officially here! This extended vacation time provides an opportunity to add to your child’s general knowledge base and encourage self-confidence and growth. It’s also a great time to start asking your child what he wants to be. Believe it or not, your child’s age doesn’t matter, even toddlers may have a ready answer to that question. So, what can we incorporate this summer that’s hands-on, super fun, meaningful, and promotes knowledge, self-confidence, growth, or career awareness? Let’s take a look. Hands-On Summer Activities for


Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children: Summer Camp Option for Children with Visual Impairments

The Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children has been spicing up summertime with beach days, sports, and day trip adventures along the Jersey Shore since 1972. Camp Director, Anna Ackley, shares what they have on the horizon for 2017 and the essence of being a part of Diller. Summer 2017 at Diller The Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children is getting ready to open its doors to campers for their annual summer camp sessions, and this year’s agenda is jam packed with fun. The camp’s mission is to provide a home-away-from-home where kids can engage in community events, run around in the sun, and establish lasting friendships with


Teacher Appreciation Day and Your Child’s Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist

National Teacher Appreciation Day 2017 is Tuesday, May 9th; Teacher Appreciation Week is initiated by schools sometime between early and mid-May. While you may have a few ideas generated for your child’s classroom teacher, I wonder if you’ve considered how to celebrate your child’s Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and orientation and


Summer Camp: An Experiment in Independence for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments

Learned Helplessness Allow me to be frank. I think the most significant disadvantage, or true handicap, for many with visual impairments is learned helplessness. Ms. Susan Harper describes learned helplessness perfectly in the article, I'm Learning, Too!. Learned helplessness is the result of not having to practice skills in self-care, problem-solving,


FamilyConnect’s Latest Article Series: Delayed Communication Development in Blind and Visually Impaired Children

This past week I enthusiastically attended American Foundation for the Blind’s leadership conference just outside of Washington, DC. Since returning home to Delaware, I have been reflecting on which message or session was the most personally impactful of the event; I choose the words of Linda Hagood, Speech Language Pathologist of Washington State School for the Blind. Ms. Hagood spoke on teaching students who are blind or visually impaired and autistic or are otherwise communicatively delayed. She began by addressing typical approaches to educational programming: symbol systems,


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. Why They’re Useful You have questions. Perhaps some include:


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 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


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

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


My Child with Multiple Disabilities Shares His Ability at Church

As parents of children with special needs, we often feel the need to miss out on daily outside activities, and over time, we may feel that church-going is not a priority. Some families feel like they're not welcomed at church or that there aren't enough (or any activities) for their child. We have felt the same way over the years. No, that didn't stop us from going, but it does make you wonder, "how are they accommodating for our son?" When we started looking for a new home church, we found what we were looking for at First Baptist Church in Waxahachie. Everyone there has always been welcoming, thoughtful, and willing to pray for our son from the time he was born. We have made new friends and our son JD, who was born deaf-blind with


Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Christmas Traditions

Last year we discussed including your child who is blind or visually impaired in Hanukkah traditions; I learned much as I asked my friend, a rabbi, to explain the holiday traditions to me. Together, the rabbi and I discussed how to make each tradition meaningful and accessible to a child with a visual impairment. Today we turn our attention to Christmas. We will take a look at the holiday and again discuss how we can make the traditions meaningful and accessible. While Hanukkah has a


Using the Expanded Core Curriculum in the School Setting

Editor's note: Today's blog post is from Amanda Bowdoin, M.Ed., a certified teacher of the visually impaired in Texas. She earned her master's degree in visual impairment from Stephen F. Austin State University. Amanda is also a mother of twins, JD and Oliva, who are 11 years old. Her son JD has CHARGE Syndrome and is deaf-blind. Using the Expanded Core Curriculum As a Safety Patrol By Amanda Bowdoin For my son, JD Bowdoin, a fifth grade young boy, it doesn’t matter what level of education he has or doesn’t have. It doesn’t matter what his mode of communication may be. All that matters to JD is


3 Tips to Help Prevent Bullying in Children with Visual Impairments

As a teenager I was bullied quite badly, which of course left me devastated, fearful, and stressed. That painful season did change me and give me eyes to see the lonely and marginalized—so truly, beauty rose from the ashes—however, I would have much rather learned empathy in a less agonizing manner! Now, as a parent and a teacher for students with visual impairments, I am painfully aware that our children can encounter the same ridicule I did years ago, and I recognize the importance of doing what we can to prevent our children from becoming victims of bullying. You see, according to the


Ladies Who Lunch: Lessons Learned During Mommy-Daughter Time

Since having my second daughter, I have come to realize just how difficult it can be for a blind mother of two toddlers to get around. Cumbersome car seats, a double wide stroller, and a back breaking diaper bag are just some of the baby essentials necessary for even the shortest spring outing. Although I know this awkward travel period is merely a bump in the road on my journey through blind parenting, I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to spend time with my daughters. My eldest is three years old and has recently been requesting some extra cuddles, reading time, and overall mommy attention. I told my husband I wanted to take her out for


A Survival Guide for the Holidays When You Have a Child Who Prefers Calm

A math equation we parents of sensitive children know well: A sensitive child + A new environment + A Loud crowd of voices + A Late-night party + A possible itchy Christmas dress or slacks = A recipe for many (not at all merry) meltdowns. I saw it today; bless his heart. The boy in the back of my child’s school “frenzy” (it’s an assembly, but “frenzy” is certainly more accurate) preferred calm, while the majority of children sung holiday songs and screamed with delight. He held his hands over his ears and rocked, wanting a little more peace and a little less party. If you have a


Inspired by the Holidays: Volunteering with Your Older Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Can I tell you my favorite holiday memory from childhood? I was 8 or 10; my parents, siblings, and I bundled up and squeezed into the minivan on our way to “Meals on Wheels”. We collected about 4 single-serving hot meals; slices of roasted turkey, runny mashed potatoes, green beans, and pecan pie enclosed in Styrofoam. We were given directions to 4 homes and off we went. I remember meeting adults my grandparents age who lived alone and who seemed eager to chat with our family. I instantly liked them. We gave each person a meal, accepted friendly hugs, and drove home changed. That began a


Inspired by the Holidays: Encouraging Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired to Get Curious About Careers

I guess you could say I’m as inspired by the holidays as I am by Emily Coleman’s blog series: "A Holiday Approach to the Expanded Core Curriculum". Take, for instance, Emily’s advice to have your child ask family members about their careers in the blog post, “Career Education for the Holidays”. This is where I want to focus. You probably have a


Inspired by the Holidays: Imparting the Discipline of Gratitude to Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Last year, Emily Coleman blogged about teaching social skills over the holidays; it’s a must read. And if you read it last year, it’s a must re-read. Inspired by Thanksgiving, I want to address the specific social skill of gratitude. It’s really more than a social skill; it’s a life skill, or more accurately, it’s a “this is the secret to living well” and “this is the secret to healthy relationships” discipline. We, me at the top of the list, can


From Intolerable to Indispensable: Learning to Love my White Cane

I have not always loved my white cane. I’m twenty eight now and don’t like to be out of the house without my cane, even if I’m not using it. It gives me a sense of security and independence that I really don’t like to be without. But it was not always that way. Not at all. When I was a little girl, I hated my cane. It was “useless!” “Stupid!” “So annoying!” It was, in my young eyes, the symbol of everything that made me different. My teachers tried to get me to like it. They used every tactic they could think of. They tried forcing me to use it. They tried introducing me to other people who were cane users. They tried suggesting I


Visually Impaired Latinos in America: My Thoughts on Hispanic Heritage Month

As Hispanic heritage month approaches, I think it is important to recognize the values and ethnic background and contributions that Latinos make to American society. First, Hispanics or Latinos are a multi-racial group. We are black, white, mestizos, as well as European-descended. So, Latin Americans are multi-racial. In my opinion there are several types of Latinos in America: those who are born here, are brought young, and others that come when they are adults. The message that I would like to convey is that Latinos in America should try to keep their values, background, and identity. Thus, they become part of a multi-cultural


Swimming Up the Mainstream

Editor's Note: With Labor Day behind us, the majority of children are back in school. The new school year always brings challenges as the children adjust to new classrooms and increasing demands. While we all get in our school groove I thought it a good time to share a blog post written by a woman who is blind who shares her perspective and memories of “swimming” in the mainstream. The Muppet character Kermit the frog sings a song entitled "It Ain’t Easy Being Green." Going to public school with a visual impairment can seem like being green when everyone else is white, black, or some shade in between. It can feel like swimming against the


Parents of Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: The Foundation for Your Child’s Transition Goals This School Year

It feels like yesterday you first laid eyes on your precious one. I know. The days were long, but the years flew. Now it’s high school. High school! That means your child’s adulthood is rapidly approaching, and it’s time to prepare him or her for a satisfying life as a grown-up. If a “satisfying life as a grownup” truly is the goal, the important questions to ask your son and yourself in your quest to support him are: What leisure activities would my child enjoy as an adult? How can my child be active in his community? Where would my child want to live? What job would be a good fit for my child?


Back to School: Educational Priorities for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

This year my oldest daughter, Madeline, will begin kindergarten. I’m already feeling the pressure and stress of teaching and pre-teaching all academic skills so that she is successful in the classroom. Maybe this stems from uncomfortable situations like hearing other five-year-olds reading, and knowing my child is definitely not there yet. So I choose to stop and settle down those green-eyed, pride-driven thoughts. I rein them in and tell them to “Go!” My child is my child, and her value is completely independent of the ability to read, solve math


Improving “School Confidence” in Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

For many of us, summer break is already but a memory (cue the sad music). As we look to the start of a new school year, we anticipate our children engaging in meaningful friendships and advancing in their academics and the blindness-specific Expanded Core Curriculum. We know there’s tremendous potential growth right around the corner. But in order for our children to actually advance in the classroom and in their Individualized


Back to School Tips for Older Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

It is back to school season and thousands of students are returning to elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. Many visually impaired students have to do special preparation to go back to school. As a graduate student I would like to suggest some tips in preparation for school. Preparation is very important for a student’s success in college but the most importantly in my opinion is your attitude about school. You have come this far in deciding or being enrolled in an institution—now with a little motivation and perseverance you will help yourself in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills that will help


How to Ease the Transition from Summer Break to a New School Year for Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Yes, it’s a substantial transition. One that repositions our children from the familiarity and comfort of home or daycare in the summer, to brand new classrooms, a different mix of student-peers, unfamiliar teachers, and more intense studies. But don’t fear, the transition from summer break to school can be done well with a little preparation and strategy, and perhaps a dash of fun! Ideas for easing the summer-to-school transition: Continually talk with your child about when school will begin, what he can expect at school, and his feelings regarding school. Sufficient sleep will be essential to our


Back to School Tips for Parents of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Can it be true? Is it really time for back to school? It seems like the summer just started and here we are at the start of another school year. I hope you all were able to use some of the tips on the summertime activity posts we did on our summertime blog party with the website WonderBaby and all the bloggers who shared their posts. We hope to have more parties in the future as a way to share resources and ideas on important topics. In the next several weeks we will post blog entries on


Five Summertime Activities That Buy Parents of Preschool Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired a Few Minutes of Free Time

Buying parents a few minutes of rest? Am I a bad mom? No, simply striving for emotional well-being. After all, we parents must prioritize our own emotional health in order to best meet the needs of our children, particularly because our job responsibilities include repeatedly diffusing tantrums and providing around-the-clock care. Not a job for the faint of heart or mind. So how do I buy myself a few minutes of free time without the use of television? Not that I'm completely against TV, it has its purpose, but I prefer guilt-free free time that drives my daughters' learning, creativity,


Summer Blog Party: Hot Fun In the Summertime for Kids who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

We are kicking off the summer season with a roundup of items to help you make the most of activities, events, and just plain old ideas that can be fun. We are excited to be co-hosting a Summer Blog Party with WonderBaby. Bloggers, please join in by writing about your summer plans and sending us the links. We will share all the posts and links with families. From FamilyConnect you can sign up with FamilyConnect to get alerts as cool


In Honor of Father’s Day, A Son’s Thoughts About Parenthood and Blindness

With the Father's Day approaching, it is important to recognize the support and care of parents. I would like to share my experiences when growing up. Equality One of the things that my parents got right was promoting a sense of equality when growing up. Promoting equality for me means treating each child the same way and providing the same opportunities, rights, and responsibilities. I have an older brother but of course, all families are different you might be a single child or have several siblings. My parents always encouraged us to do things the same way even though I am visually impaired.


My Suggestions for College Success

We are pleased to introduce you to Irwin Ramirez who will be blogging for us this summer. Irwin is completing his Master’s Degree in computer science and is working as an intern for the American Foundation for the Blind’s web department. He will be sharing his experiences and perspective as a young adult who is blind. His areas of interest are accessibility consulting, web design and assistive technology training. He was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States when he is 17. I urge you to follow his blog, ask him questions and post comments. I would like to share my college experience as a visually impaired student. There


Sooo, What About School in Summer?

Summer school or no summer school is a hard question. It is an individual decision. Some areas have local schools for the blind that offer a range of recreation, independent living skills development, social opportunities, and skills building opportunities in a short burst of fun in a camp-like setting. Depending on what your child's IEP says regarding summer school, there is usually a short 6 to 8-week shortened summer school program in a less structured environment. There are local bible schools/camps through churches, YMCA or YWCA day camp, camps for special needs children, etc. I have mentioned some of these options before as opportunities for social interaction for home schooled children.


Celebrate Independence Day!

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a new article written by Anne McComiskey that talks about the path to independence for kids who are visually impaired. I know you and your family will find lots of fun ways to spend the day but I thought this would be a memorable day for the topic. Of course, part of becoming independent is learning how to interact with others, and so we are bundling Anne's poem entitled Manners to round out the day. We hope you enjoy the day in whatever fashionbe it with picnics, family gatherings, or a more peaceful day spent at home. However your day goes, I hope you enjoy some


Socialization: How We Teach Matters as Much as What We Teach!

"If a child cannot learn in the way we teach, we must teach in a way the child can learn." - Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas, UCLA I like planting! I plan what, when, where, and how. I know the who: me. So if my crop fails, it is my fault. Same with my planning school work for the next year. I do it much the way I plan my garden, with a lot of the work done mentally in my head and an awareness of whether conditions are right for what I am planning/planting. Then I peruse my favorite catalogues. I do a lot of mental work before I ever start. I look at what we have done and what do I/we need to do to get to the next level. I am getting to the end of the year. Which means I not only evaluate (not formally, although you could) what we have


Moving into College: Friendship and the Transition to Independence

Editor's note: "Back to school" for many students actually means heading off to college, with all the emotional challenges and changes that go along with that transition. AFB intern Michelle Hackman gives us a peek into her experience of college life and how new friendships played a key role in achieving greater independence. For those who are close to the transition into college, I urge you to check out the Recommended Resources at the end of Michelle's post. - Scott Truax As I write this, I am tucked comfortably into an aged wooden chair, at a window desk overlooking one of the university quads. It is my third time moving into one


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