Your young adult or adult child has been diagnosed with an eye condition and is now considered visually impaired or blind. You’re left trying to hold it together as you seek to understand the diagnosis and provide both emotional and physical support, but you can’t remain composed much longer. This is enormously painful and confusing.
I’m glad you’re here.
A diagnosis of a visual impairment is overwhelming. Identify your emotions; help your son or daughter identify his or her emotions; give yourself and your grown child permission to feel. Grief is healthy—heavy and healthy.
Do know that this overwhelming loss is not the end of the story. Your son or daughter’s vision loss will one day become one characteristic of him or her that needn’t hold him back from a satisfying, independent life.
So, grieve and then what? What else can be done, or what information and resources can you arm yourself with to help your grown child progress from a season of pain to a lifetime of independence?
- Encourage your son or daughter to both meet and read about adults who are visually impaired and very comfortable in their skin. It’s important for folks with recently diagnosed visual impairments to recognize that they’re not alone; others with vision loss enjoy their lives, their families, and their jobs.
- If your young adult is in high school, he can learn blindness-specific skills with the help of a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) and a travel instructor called an orientation and mobility specialist. If your teen hasn’t been assigned a TVI or mobility specialist, contact the school district’s special education department.
- The government funds service providers who train individuals with visual impairments in many blindness-specific skills and strategies including braille, travel skills, use of assistive technology, employment-readiness skills, and independent living skills. You can utilize our database to find a local service provider.
- If you’re wanting to learn braille yourself (which I recommend), the National Braille Press has a print book, Just Enough to Know Better, written for parents who want to learn the basics of braille. Alternatively, the Hadley School for the Blind offers several levels of free correspondence courses to family members who want to learn braille. Course descriptions are available at www.hadley-school.org.
- Browse American Foundation for the Blind’s VisionAware site and pass it along to your son or daughter to learn about coping with vision loss and living triumphantly while visually impaired.
- Share the APH CareerConnect site with your teen or adult son or daughter. This section of American Foundation for the Blind provides career-related information and resources to teens and adults who are blind or visually impaired.
You are not in this alone. Please get connected with FamilyConnect or any organization where you can learn and meet others walking beside you.
Resources for You
- Utilize FamilyConnect’s message boards, a great place to talk with other family members or get advice about specific issues.
- Watch parent perspective videos to hear how parents coped with their young or teen children’s vision loss.
- Read VisionAware’s Guide to Vision Loss For Family and Friends.