How to Accommodate and Support a Child with a Visual Impairment
Parenting a child with a visual impairment requires special considerations at every stage of life — from birth through early childhood, adolescence, and even into adulthood. Your challenge is to strike a balance between providing support and fostering independence. To give children with visual impairments a safe and comfortable life, learn how their development differs from those without a visual impairment. Be aware that you’ll need to make modifications to your home and financial plans to keep your child safe now and in the future.
Your visually impaired child may take longer to hit certain milestones, like crawling or walking. That’s to be expected. Your child also may be wary of developing through other sensory experiences, like smell, taste, sound, and touch. Communication and social skills may also need work from a very young age. According to resources on vision impairment on the Women’s and Children’s Health Network site:“>:
Children who have vision impairment may also need help to learn the social skills that are expected during conversations. They may need to learn to ‘look’ towards a speaker and when it is appropriate to enter a conversation. They may also need to be taught about the facial expressions or body postures that other people expect from them during a conversation. Parents, teachers and friends can assist by using words in place of gestures. For example, it is important to say ‘goodbye’ rather than to wave, or to answer ‘yes’ rather than respond with a nod. Speech pathologists and specialist teachers can provide help with this.
As Your Child Begins to Move About
As children age, they will begin to interact more with their surroundings. At this stage, making sure your home is properly set up for their special needs is paramount.
Your home should be equipped with proper lighting throughout. Dimly lit homes are the enemy of those with visual impairments. When you light your home, be cognizant of how that light plays off windows, mirrors, pictures, and other surfaces. Do what you can to reduce glare.
Contrast is also important for kids growing up with a visual impairment. To reduce injury and promote independence, create as many points of contrast between floors, walls, and furniture as you can. Position furniture out of main aisles of travel. Remove rugs and cords — or at least tape them down to the floor.
Depending on the severity of your child’s visual impairment, other home modifications may become necessary. Ramps, railings, grab bars, and even lifts may be appropriate.
As Your Child Grows Up
People with visual impairments may incur higher living costs than those without. It’s important that your child be provided for and also learn how to manage money and make smart investments. Setting up a custodial savings account when children are young can be very beneficial as they reach maturity.
Not only will your child have a fund to use for home modifications (when moving out of your home), but you can also take the opportunity to teach about investing. As the Schwab MoneyWise site recommends, “With a custodial account, you can explain that the money belongs to the child and that you are investing it for him or her. By showing a child the investment mix, types of assets, and performance reports, you can educate him or her about investing.”