One of the greatest things about Eddie being at a new school this year is the outpouring of curiosity. His school has about 600 kids in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. It is a small, rural community that may have never had a student with Eddie’s level of visual impairment. Because of this, the kids are so curious about his cane and blindness in general. It is so fun to field questions as we walk through the halls with Eddie.
The first week of school, a student came up to us and asked me if Eddie was blind. He said he had never known a “blind person” before. I said, “Well, now you do. This is Eddie. What’s your name?” I love to introduce Eddie to other kids because it is good for him to learn about the social world around him, and it is great for other kids to know more about him, too. While sharing information about Eddie, I also try to make it seem like blindness isn’t a big deal. Overall, I want these children to know that he is “just a kid”.
Because I am working now, my husband takes Eddie to school and picks him up every day. He said that kids are still asking about Eddie almost daily and that they frequently say “hi” to him. Eddie really has been embraced by these students and it is so fun to see. The student’s attitudes are also helped greatly by the teachers and school staff. They’ve also worked hard to make Eddie feel welcomed and to make him an active part of the school.
On one hand, I hope that as Eddie gets older students continue to ask questions about him daily. On the other hand, I hope they stop asking questions because that might mean he is no longer a novelty but simply one of them. I think as Eddie’s social skills improve this will be the case. In the meantime, until he becomes more verbal, or tries to reach out to his peers, it is up to us to answer for him; to ultimately be his spokesperson.
Because Eddie can’t do it yet, we need to always permit time when questions are asked because it is up to us as his parents to help people get to know him better. He’ll always be changing and growing, which will spur more questions, and Eddie’s “image” will be redefined. However, once those initial questions are asked and answered, and the mystery surrounding his blindness is removed, nobody will be able to keep Eddie at arm’s length. He is simply too loveable…and he does that all by himself.