Advocating for Your Blind Child
As the parent of a child who is visually impaired and who may have other disabilities as well, you and your family may often find yourself meeting with professionals who are specialists in various areas, such as pediatric ophthalmologists, physical therapists, and teachers of students with visual impairments. In fact, you may naturally seek out assistance and advice from a range of individuals to get information and the best possible services for your child. Although this effort is a vital part of parenting a child with disabilities, it is also important for you to appreciate that you yourself are an expert about your child!
Although specialists may be highly knowledgeable about a condition your child may be experiencing and about strategies that can support your child’s growth and development, it is you and your family who spend your lives with your child and know your child best of all. Actually, your knowledge of your child is something you can contribute to discussions and meetings because it is invaluable input that professionals need to have and on which they can build to determine effective ways of helping your baby. The critical role and knowledge that you have are officially recognized in the federal legislation that governs special education in this country, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This legislation requires schools to consult with you throughout your child’s school life and includes you as part of the central educational team that determines the program your child will receive if he is eligible for special education services.
As you talk to professionals about your child and his needs, be confident in your knowledge of your child and in the appropriateness of expressing your perspective, suggestions, and concerns. You are your child’s best advocate, and in many ways, his best teacher, too, and others have much to learn from you!