Five Tips to Encourage Healthy Relationships Between Children with Blindness or Low Vision and Their Siblings
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By Emily Coleman updated 2023
In families where a child is blind or has low vision, it’s crucial to nurture healthy relationships among siblings. Often, siblings of visually impaired children might feel left out due to the extra attention and services their brother or sister receives. Here are strategies to encourage positive interactions and equality among siblings:
If chores are a part of family life, ensure that your child with blindness or low vision participates too. Adapt tasks as needed, but maintain the principle that all children, regardless of their visual ability, contribute equally to household responsibilities.
When teaching skills like braille or cane usage to your child who is blind or low vision, include their siblings in the learning process. Including them allows them to be supportive of their sibling but also encouraging along the way. This not only fosters a shared understanding but can also be an enjoyable activity, as many children find learning braille like discovering the key to a secret code.
Family Activities for Everyone
Choose family activities that everyone enjoys. Avoid showing favoritism towards any child’s preferences. Ensure each child has the opportunity to choose activities, promoting a sense of fairness and inclusion. Find activities that are fun for the whole family.
Teaching Social Skills
Children with visual impairments may need explicit teaching in social interactions. Work with professionals like a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) to guide your visually impaired child in polite and appropriate behavior. Consistency in expectations across all children is key. Teach your visually impaired child how to interact with their siblings.
Be transparent and available to discuss your child’s visual impairment with all your children. Educate them from a young age, gradually increasing the complexity of information as they grow. Therefore, this approach demystifies the visual impairment, making it a normal part of family life.
In families with a child who is blind or has low vision, it’s essential to promote equality and understanding among siblings. This involves having equal expectations for all children, inclusive learning opportunities, enjoyable family activities for everyone, teaching appropriate social skills, and maintaining open communication about the visual impairment. By focusing on these strategies, families can foster healthy, supportive sibling relationships where each child feels valued and included.
Remember, imposing the responsibility of care on siblings can be burdensome. Strive for independence in your visually impaired child and promote equality among siblings. This approach will likely lead to mutual care and lifelong, supportive sibling relationships.