Preparing Your Visually Impaired Teen for Independence
Your child is close to the age of independent living. The best way to prepare is to set expectations for active accomplishment while your child is still at home. Consider the ways your child depends on you now. How can you help set up a successful transition?
It’s a lot to think about. Try breaking down your plans into the following broad areas:
- Orientation and Mobility: Do your child’s recreational activities depend on you as driver?
- Work with your child to establish mobility goals.
- Team up with your child’s orientation and mobility specialist.
- Look for opportunities for your child to reach his goals.
- Take public transportation together and ease him into independent mobility.
- Discuss and prepare additional strategies for getting around as a non-driver.
- Additionally, your child is nearing the age when he can pursue guide dog use. Discuss the pros and cons of a guide dog with your child and seek information from experts.
Money Management: How prepared is your child to earn money, use a bank, and make wise financial decisions? CareerConnect’s “Money Management” lesson series may help you take advantage of opportunities to learn financial responsibility. In addition to supporting his efforts to earn money, you may choose to give him a monthly income for certain purchases. Set appropriate boundaries, but allow your child to learn from natural consequences.
Time Management: Can your child arrive to school or appointments on time without a parent managing the calendar and clock? “Basics Behind Maintaining Employment” may help you identify responsibilities your child may start to assume.
Organizational Skills: Does your child rely on your organizational skills to care for personal items? Share “How to Improve Your Organizational Skills” and help your child create goals for improvement in organization.
Compensatory Skills: Is your teen independently note-taking, signature-writing, keyboarding, listening, accessing print, and using a computer? Work with a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) and support opportunities to learn, use tools, practice skills, and seek out resources that lead to greater independence.
Daily Living Skills: If your child lived independently at his current skill level, how well would he care for his body and home? Help him focus on learning to cook nutritionally; caring for his body, clothes, and belongings; and maintaining a clean living environment. Don’t forget to take the time to teach your child to shave independently.
As you support your child, keep your feedback realistic and encouraging. Additionally, keep in mind that independence does not mean doing everything oneself. Most of us do not cut our own hair, for example! Rather, independent adults recognize where they need support and understand how to obtain it.