We all have a story to tell. Your heritage and culture, family and friends, home and school and work environments, interests, habits, and choices, and your experiences shape your character—the character of your story, that is. The same is true for your child who is blind or visually impaired.
Crafting the story
Wouldn’t it be helpful if your child considered and combed through his story thus far?
You could tell him about his birth, early life, and what you recognize, love, and appreciate about him.
Remind him of when he worked hard to overcome obstacles. Remind him of when he was silly, adventurous, brave, dependable, and kind. Identify, together, several experiences that have shaped him, as well as what makes him unique, including his vision impairment.
But don’t stop there. Give him opportunities to ask questions. Give him opportunities to share his experiences and interests with you.
[This is also a perfect opportunity to let him know he will continue to be brave, fun, dependable, adventurous, and kind. Children need to hear we believe in them, and they thrive with our love and high expectations.]
Next, whittle down the story and write it together. He could narrate to you as you type or print it; he could type it; he could record it orally; he could braille it; or he could print it.
Consider creating an accessible book and adding tactile mementos and photographs.
Here’s what may be gained:
- He can hear or learn the basics of his vision impairment.
- He may come to understand that his vision impairment is merely one aspect of him. It doesn’t define him.
- Your child may understand his story is unique to him. You can share parts of your story and he can begin to understand that others have their own unique stories.
- He can become more self-aware, including an awareness of his personality, positive character traits, family culture, strengths, experiences, and interests.
- He can recognize the choices he makes do shape him.
Sharing the story
Consider asking your child’s teacher if he can share his story with his classmates. Maybe, too, your child can share it with those in his neighborhood, place of worship, or extra-curricular activities.
If your child’s peers are able to hear his story, they may realize he is more like them than different. They’ll also hear a bit about his vision impairment—perhaps it’s something about which they’ve been quietly wondering.
So, take time, perhaps with each of your children, and help them recognize and own their stories.
I sure remember enjoying the process of writing mine as a fourth-grader; that’s a picture of my hand-written “story” above. “All About My Life” is printed in various colored markers—and a pretend “New Book” sticker is drawn on the cover. I assure you, though, the book is anything but new.
Maybe your children, too, will hang onto their new books for a lifetime.