Continuing Education

From the moment you hear that your child has a visual impairment, you realize there is so much to learn and so little time. Yes, a cliché, but still very true. I felt like I wanted to get my hands on every book that had anything to do with blindness. I bought quite a few on Amazon, I borrowed whatever I could from any specialist my son saw, and I checked out anything at the library remotely related to vision loss.

Once I had my stash of books, I was surrounded with knowledge and felt they held all the answers. Then, I found that along with holding answers, they could hold a lot of dust. Those books just sat on my shelves, on my end-tables, and on my desk for months on end. I looked at them every day and thought, “I should read those.” Then I thought, “Why aren’t I reading those?” Then I felt that creeping guilt sensation that every mom feels on occasion.

What I realized was that it is really easy to gather. It’s really easy to ask for advice. It’s really easy to want to know more about our children’s visual impairments and their implications. However, it is really hard to read those dry books full of great information. They are really boring.

I love to read. I’m in book clubs, and I enjoy the escape a good book brings. Books about my son’s eye condition do not offer me any escape. In fact it’s the opposite. I find that I’m living these books, and sometimes don’t want to be reminded of the difficult paths ahead, or the paths I’m already treading.

However, it can’t be ignored that there is extreme value in educating ourselves about our children. Nobody is going to force-feed us information…but, wouldn’t it be great if they did?!? I’d love to get the author of some of these vision “must reads” to present directly to me in my home. How will this information affect us? How can your book help us? Please…apply it directly to Eddie for me. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen, but I can dream can’t I?

After recognizing that these books are somewhat dull, a favorite educator of mine suggested I use one like I’m in a book club. She thought that if a close friend read it at the same time as me, it’d be easier to dive into. This was a truly inspired idea. It worked like a charm and my friend and I really enjoyed the “project.”

The first book we tackled many of you likely have. It was “Children with Visual Impairments: A Parents’ Guide” edited by M. Cay Holbrook, Ph.D. We assigned ourselves one chapter a week, and then discussed it when finished. Not only was I being educated, but I had somebody close to me to discuss it with. Every topic brought new emotions, and I didn’t have to examine those on my own.

Eddie is now seven, and we read this book together when he was probably two years old. So, it’s been awhile, and I’m not sure why it came to mind today. I just felt like it was such a great idea, and one I hope some of you would be able to duplicate. I try to remember that I’m not the only one that needs educated. If I include a family member or friend on my journey, that will also benefit me, and my son.