When Your Child Is Blind or Has Low Vision
Whether your child is blind or has low vision developed gradually or happened suddenly due to an accident or illness, you may be experiencing a wide range of feelings. Here are a few things to consider:
Your child is a child, first and foremost. Do not let blindness or low vision take over your child’s life or yours. Your child may be scared, angry, depressed, sad, or uncertain, and, at the same time, hopeful that your child’s eye condition may be fixed or simply go away. You may be having the same emotions. Feeling you’re on an emotional roller coaster isn’t unusual.
If your emotions overshadow other aspects of your life—your relationship with your spouse, your patience with your children, or your performance at work—consider talking to a counselor or joining a support group. You might also find it helpful to contact other families who have gone through or are in the middle of your situation.
As much as possible, continue doing what you’ve always done to relax, whether jogging for a half hour in the morning, meeting your sister for lunch once a week, or reading the newspaper after work.
Your other children and your spouse or partner need your attention too. Don’t put your relationships with others on the back burner because you worry about your child’s vision. You may find that others can support you while discussing your feelings.
Sometimes Your Thoughts May Not Be Positive
Some events, like a visit to the eye doctor, may bring your child’s visual impairment up front in your thinking. If you’re angry, sad, or depressed, take some time to grieve—it’s natural. But then, if you can, try to plan what you and your child can do to make a negative more positive. If your son is struggling with reading, build time into your evenings to practice braille together, or if your child is losing more vision, contact the orientation and mobility (O&M) instructor on the educational team to get some pointers on what you can do to help use the remaining vision when you’re out in the community together.
Now that your child is older, they are more likely to be aware of others’ feelings. Have open conversations with your child about how they feel about their blindness or low vision and how you may be feeling too. The same is true with other family members. If you have other children, they may have feelings related to being embarrassed, feeling left out, or not getting enough attention as they relate to their sibling who is blind or low vision. If they are willing to talk, hear them out, and share your thoughts.
You’ll continue to encounter people who may not understand your child’s eye condition, so they’ll need some education in the form of explanations or information from you or your child. But it can be tiring to explain things to people repeatedly. Permit yourself to occasionally take the day off from wearing your public relations hat.
Recognize that there will be things related to having a child with blindness or low vision that may always cause you stress. For example, you may become angry when you hear some neighborhood children call your child “four eyes” or another not-so-flattering name. At times like this, you may feel emotional turmoil. Remember that all parents have strong feelings about their children and may also have times when they wish their child were different, whether it be more affectionate, more organized, or a better student in school. Focusing on your love and affection for your child and spending time with supportive friends may be helpful at times like these.