Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Low Vision Learn About the World
Your child is curious about the world. With limited or no vision, they need you to fill in the picture for them to understand what is going on around them. Although that is not always possible, as often as you can, you want to help your child learn about the activities taking place in the world that they may not be aware of because they cannot see them.
Your child may not realize the many jobs that people perform. When your family goes to a restaurant, your child may meet the hostess who seats your family, but not realize that the hostess is seating everyone else who comes into the restaurant as well. They may know that the waiter takes your order and brings your food and drink to you, but may not realize the waiter is doing this at other tables, too. It may not be apparent to them that there are people in the kitchen preparing the food, bus staff who clear the tables when people finish eating, and a manager walking around to make sure all is running smoothly. Let your child know about the jobs you see others performing as the two of you go about your day.
Tips for Trips
Think about the following when it comes to taking your child out into the community and helping them make the most of your trips.
- Take your child who is blind or low vision to the same places you would take them if they were fully sighted.
- Try to find times when workers in the community are likely to be receptive to allowing your child to get some hands-on learning.
- Explain to people in the community what your child can and cannot see. Let them know how they can help your child. Keep in mind that many of the people you and your child meet in the community will be unsure of how to interact with someone who is blind or low vision. They may need some assistance from you to help your child learn as much as possible about what they do.
- If the item you want your child to investigate is large or potentially dangerous—such as a bulldozer —you may want to ask the job foreman if you can return with your child after the equipment has been turned off and the day’s work is finished. Toys may give a child the general idea, but only exploring the real thing can allow them to understand the size and solidity of such equipment.
- Give your child small jobs to do during a community outing. At the grocery store, you might ask your child to find three items and put them in the shopping cart. If your is involved while out in the community, they will be more likely to develop curiosity about all they are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling.
- Your child may not see well enough to notice that many workers wear uniforms. Describe the uniforms you see, such as the blue uniform of the mail carrier or the hard hat and tool belt worn by the construction worker.
- When it comes time to buy toys for your child, think about getting some child-sized, realistic toys so they can “act out” the jobs they are learning about on their own or with friends.