The goal of the day is idea-sharing. Let’s put our heads together and consider how to make the holiday of Easter, its traditions and celebrations, just as meaningful and enjoyable to a child with a visual impairment as it is to a child with full sight.
What Is Easter?
It helps to begin with a brief summary of the holiday. Similar to our discussion on including a child who is blind or visually impaired in Christmas traditions, we know Easter is a compilation of assorted traditions. Predominantly, many would say, is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s son, three days after His death on the cross, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible. For Christians, Jesus’ death and resurrection is important because He is the unblemished one who came to reveal God’s character and to pay for our sins by His sacrifice of death on the cross.
For young children in the Western world, Easter is alternatively or additionally the day “the Easter bunny” delivers a basket of small gifts and an Easter egg hunt ensues. The eggs are commonly a combination of plastic eggs filled with miniature prizes or coins and hard boiled eggs previously dyed or painted as a family. This tradition is a symbol of new life.
Still, many others consider Easter simply an exciting opportunity to gather with family and friends and enjoy the arrival of spring.
While the focus of Easter varies among cultures and families, many of the celebrations and traditions overlap. I will list a variety of traditions below, and you can utilize what applies to your family.
How to Include Your Child in Easter Traditions
1. When decorating your home for Easter, use live flowers that are bought or picked together and multi-sensory artifacts. The décor will be more interesting for a visually impaired child to touch and smell. Additionally, have your child assist in making and hanging decorations such as these tactile Easter crafts.
2. Make the experience of decorating hard-boiled eggs a fun and accessible one for your child. For children with low vision, you may want to use additional task lighting, enhance the visual contrast by placing the white egg on a black, nonslip mat, and utilize vivid paint, dye, or permanent markers to color the eggs. Children who are totally blind may also enjoy dyeing eggs, but I recommend including tactile decorations such as puffy paint, wikki sticks, raised stickers, glued pom-poms, or torn tissue paper applied to a wet egg. Grab a cookie sheet from the kitchen and use it as a confined work station for your child who is blind.
3. When considering gifts to fill an Easter basket for your child, read AFB FamilyConnect’s Toy and Gift Ideas for Children with Visual Impairments. You may also want to add a few accessible Easter eggs and consider using real grass as a basket-filler.
4. Contact your local service provider for people who are blind or visually impaired and local Lions Club to ask if there are any beeping egg hunts in your area. If not, consider hosting your own beeping egg hunt with the help of these instructions.
5. As Easter is a time of talking about bunnies and chicks, visit a petting zoo, pet store, and/or a tractor supply company to interact with bunnies, chicks, and possibly chickens. Utilize the opportunity to build an understanding of animal concepts: it is common for children with visual impairments to talk about specific animals and objects as if they fully understand them, yet not know their true size, shape, feel, or noise.
6. When telling the Easter account, utilize real artifacts such as a piece of wood when discussing the cross, a nail, a rock to describe the tomb, various bandages, etc. Older children may appreciate an Easter play or narrated movie.
7. It is common for children to dress formal for Easter Sunday or a Good Friday service. Talk with your child about appropriate clothing choices for different events.
8. If you are celebrating Easter with a meal at your home, include your child in meal preparation and home cleaning; if you are celebrating elsewhere, include your child in travel preparations.
9. Lastly, if the bustling activities and family or friend get-togethers will be overwhelming for your child who prefers less sensory input, read A Survival Guide for the Holidays when You Have a Child Who Prefers Calm.
If you have found additional ways to include your blind or visually impaired child in the celebration and traditions of Easter, we would love to hear your input and ideas!
Happy Easter to you and yours!