Helping Your Blind Child Learn in the Community
Successful transition from high school to college, trade school, or work involves more than knowledge of possible jobs, proper social interactions, and self-care. Successful transition involves much observation and rehearsing in the real world.
While it is good and necessary to talk to your child about making and keeping appointments, the lesson becomes more meaningful when the child gets a chance to observe others doing the same and then gets a chance to practice this skill. You can encourage these learning opportunities that come from repeated observation and experiences within the real world.
Your child can interact with a variety of employed adults and teenagers as you run errands together. Discuss the job tasks of those you meet and those who work behind the scenes. You can discuss similarities and differences among positions. If your child displays any interest in a position, help search for more detailed information about its requirements and responsibilities. Browse jobs by career clusters to introduce your child to related jobs of interest.
Expose your child to a variety of work environments. Talk about the noise levels, types of management, size of teams, whether they are formal or casual, and the degree of flexibility. Help your child think about work environments that would be good fits. Which would be challenging but possible? Which, if any, are not options? Which fit with your child’s interests and life plans?
The community provides opportunities to refine social skills. Your child can request assistance, decline assistance, practice casual conversations, and gain experience interacting with professionals. Talk with your child about the outcomes of conversations you are involved in or hear; mention polite and assertive words you notice your child using and encourage positive communication skills.
Communicate the types of clothing and grooming you notice at a range of locations. Describe people who are dressed or groomed well or inappropriately at the location you just left. What was communicated by those clothing choices?
Discuss the cost of items and services purchased within the community. Help your child develop an understanding of cost of living and, therefore, the need for paid work.
Your grade schooler can learn where to purchase various products and services and can also learn how to make the purchases. Involve your child in price-comparison, budgeting, ATM withdrawals, credit and debit transactions, and other aspects of money management.
Regularly practice safe travel skills. Work with your child’s orientation and mobility instructor to determine routes to practice independently and with support.
Provide frequent opportunities for your child to practice using blindness-specific technology, including an accessible GPS on a smart device for real world goals within the community.
A variety of problems (social, financial, technological, mobility-related, etc.) will occur while in the community. Let your child take the lead in solving the problems.
Preparing for a successful transition out of high school takes turning routine interactions into intentional learning opportunities.