Confidence And Blindness


Confidence And Blindness

     “I think I have a problem with self confidence.” I said to myself in one of those rare moments of self analyses and honesty. I was poised to head out of the house to go shopping, all by myself. I had my long white cane in one hand and the doorknob in the other, but there I was stuck. I couldn’t move. I was having a real problem with...what...motivation or to be more honest...with nerves or was it fear? I don’t know, I finished blindness alternative technique instruction at a rehab training center about two months ago. I have learned all the blindness skills they had to offer: cooking, shop, computer, travel, Braille, general techniques of daily living, etc.

     “Since coming home I’ve been busy trying to reestablish my routine; doing things with family and friends, getting back into my part of the daily chores and generally feeling better about my blindness. However, yesterday...the picnic, my family used to rely upon me to do the grilling. But when it was time for someone to step forward to do it, my brother-in-law, Chuck said he’d handle it. And, I sat there and didn’t say a word; I worked on grilling at the rehab center and did fine.

     “Then a week ago, there was the church meeting. It is a group I belong to and am still the secretary for. Granted I had missed several meetings, but where I use to take notes in large print and though I was now a proficient Braille user, and even had a laptop with speech output, at that meeting I pooped out on myself and allowed another member to handle my duties.

     “Ah, some things are going well and some things are not...what is going on? What is wrong with me? Am I really adjusting to my blindness? What is going on?


e-mail responses to

**1. “I can definitely see how this individual feels they are losing control. They went to school to be helped with adjusting to their blindness and now they're letting everyone do things they were taught alternative methods to do as a result of their loss of sight.

From time to time, disabled or not, we all have lapses in confidence. It's perfectly normal. The important thing is to recognize this and make steps to get back on your feet. It takes courage to do this - saying "I'll do the grilling." or "Let me take those notes." and many times you'll still be told
"It's O.K. Someone else will do it.", but the important thing is that you offered to assume your normal responsibilities. Granted, you'll still feel a little hurt because, for whatever reason, the people who've have known you've been vision impaired have suddenly taken 10 steps backward in their confidence of you, but that's not your problem. Take the notes in the meeting and show them you can still do it. Have your own BBQ and invite people over and show them you can still cook up a storm.

Time and patience and persistence are the tools with which we arm ourselves. Confidence is a cherished thing and you don't have to be disabled to lose it. Lots of young adults are seeking it as they enter the job market. The average
teen seeks it as they attempt to cope with social issues of peer pressure and dating. We disabled are not alone. We all just search different paths to find the treasure.

After all, when you're at the bottom of the hill, there's only one way to go - up.

Have a Happy 4th and keep a smile in your hearts!

Shelley Proulx (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)

**2. “I understand where the person is coming from. I was just diagnosed with RP, and even though, I have had the symptoms of it all my life, my um, ophthalmologist
never got around to diagnosing it. Very scary, as my education would have been different. It is not a lack of self confidence. He or is it she, is just testing the waters. Even though, you have the skills, and have aced the tests in college or at the Rehab center, that is only one part of the true meaning
of freedom and independence. You have to apply the knowledge, and that takes a huge step. Human beings have one fear, the fear of the unknown, and no
on, I mean no one, can say they aren't afraid of it. This person, is afraid to take that step, to say, "yes, I could do the grilling, it will take a bit longer, but I will do it, I can do it, I did it at the Center." or "I will take those notes, I can do it, I have the really neat laptop and I know how to use it." It is that step which we teeter on all the time.
Here are a few examples of my own. I get terrified of doing new things. Take the first time, I had to find the bus station on my own. I was terrified, doing a lot of self talk the whole way there and yet I found it, and with only verbal directions.

Second example. I was terrified to death of going to NYC on my own. I had been there with friends in a group, but this was the first time I would be doing it solo or mostly solo. My guide dog JUdson and my friend would be would be with me, but that is Two and a canine alone in a city of several million. But you just have to take that step.

Sometimes there are many moments where I am doubting myself. Especially with my recent vision loss. Can I really do this, can I walk along the beach without losing my way back to the house, that looks just like all the rest of them now? Can I go to CVS, make myself ask for help, and find those rather embarrassing
items that you don't really want to have your significant other buying for you? Can I get my way around this huge university?
It is a great stepping stone. And In my opinion this person is doing gosh darn good for only having training only 2 months ago. Some people take a life time to finally release the "blind" self inside. And I don't mean that in any kind of religious or philosophical reason. There are things I do now, as I can't see, that I wouldn't have done when I was more sighted. Like asking my brother to read my Cds, or my mom to look up a phone number, or ask a stranger
on the street where the CVs is.”

Shelley L. Rhodes (Corry, Pennsylvania USA)

**3. “Oh boy, does this sound familiar. When I was in rehab training back in the late 1980s I actually became phobic about leaving the house, crossing streets, and taking buses. And I’d been doing so well at crossing streets and taking buses. Suddenly, my life stood still. I had to do something. Finally, I made a conscious decision, and this became my motto for life, to just do it. I forced myself to cross streets, wait on bus stops and board the bus when it arrived. It took a lot of sweat and tears and I had a lot of anxiety attacks, but it did get easier with time and practice.

As for self confidence, I know that I personally become embarrassed by or angry at myself when I perceive that that's how others are looking at me. And I guess the way to combat that is just to try not to think and worry about what others are thinking about us. For one thing, for all we know, we could be wrong. And second, why should it matter to us what others are thinking about us?”

Patricia Hubschman (New York USA)

**4. “I believe this person is focusing on the Disability instead of Ability. He has to work at focusing on actions stop questioning his ability, as he said he had just finished taking blindness alternative technique instructions, so it would be reasonable to think this changed his focus.”

Diane Dobson (Victoria British Columbia, Canada)

**5. “I think that this person needs to have this happening to him. I feel that with the family picnic he could have said "I'll do the grilling," since he had
learned this at the training center. If the family member had any concerns he could show the family the techniques he used at the training center. Also,
at the church meeting, he should have not been afraid to use his new techniques to take the notes. I feel that attitude is very important to someone
who has lost their vision and who has gone through a training center. However, we still have to get over the attitudes and perceptions of the sighted community, especially those of family and friends.

John TeBockhorst (Davenport, Iowa USA)

**6. “I feel that the first time trying out a new skill is scary for everyone, not just blind people. I would tell the person to take the first step and then it will become easier to try out your new skills. Do not let the others take over just because they offer but show off your new found independence.”

Angela Farmer (Dothan Alabama USA.)

**7. “I believe this individual is faced with two big tasks. First, he just got home with his newly learned skills of blindness. He probably did very well during his time in training and was encouraged by the instructors and other students. Now, however, he's at home. He not only has to put these skills to use in his everyday life, but also has to teach his family and friends that he really can do these things. This means that he has to be assertive and speak up. However, if he doesn't do it soon and continues to allow others to do things he can do, he probably never will and will lose the skills he just learned.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA)

FROM ME: “Good question- ‘While the blind person is receiving counseling and education for their adjustment to blindness, who is working with their friends or family?’”

**7. “When a person loses his/her vision in later years he goes through a grief process the same as when we lose a love one to death. During this time it is not easy to stand up for oneself but all too often we lay back and get walked over. The one in this story still is not able to show his/her independence
but is working at doing so. He/she has been put down several times because of the blindness and now feels less able to do for him/herself. But he/she
must step out, let go the door knob and move on. There will be more obstacles to run into or to block the way but these will help build his/her strength & independence. Then he/she must learn when to speak out for him/herself. The man offering to do the grilling most likely thought he was doing a great favor. Still the one in the story will need to learn when to speak out and say, "I can and will do that!"

I usually let others talk about "poor blind" too, but one time I had enough. My wife was asked what she did for work and she answered that she was not working out right now.
This lady said, "Oh, you stay home and take care of him!"
Now she had said and done other things I had tried to ignore but this was too much. I shot back, maybe with a little too much anger, "No she does not take care of me! I can take care of my self!"
So, this one in the story will have to know when to speak out or he/she will never be allowed to help out at gatherings. Each time he/she does for him/herself
what another tries to do, he/she grows in self worth and helps others know that being blind does not make second class citizens.”

Ernie Jones (Wala Wala, Washington USA)

**8. “Here's my gut reaction on reading this story. I think it's one thing to go to some center and learn things in a class, but some people can have a harder time of applying such techniques to real life on their own without instructors or other students to act as a support system. Also, I wonder about the person's expectations about their life as a blind person. It sounds like they expect everything to be exactly the way it was before they were totally blind, and that's not always the case. Why they are unmotivated or are passing jobs over to others, I don't know, but perhaps that person
still has some adjusting to do yet and gain confidence in real life
situations. How? Can't tell you, as it depend son the individual like many many things.”

Chris Swank (Redcrest, California USA)

**9. “One does not have to immediately prove to others, or even to oneself necessarily, how capable one is. I think the person in this vignette, especially since he/she is newly blind, should be given at least the leeway we might all expect to be given--i.e., that maybe sometimes you do lack confidence. I think
sighted people lack as much as blind people, it's just that very often, when you're blind, you have to deal with others' expectations or lack of same.
In any case, if the person lacks confidence because he's blind, well, I think there may be times when we all do and that's not always, 100% of the time, something to be derided; it depends on our skill level, how we were raised, or even what kind of day we're having. With this person, I'd say that it's only natural that you'd be prone to a lack of confidence for a while. Just don't stay in one place; try to do things you didn't think you were capable of doing. If you don't think you can get through something like grilling or whatever when you're in a public setting without making a spectacle of yourself,
assuming that that's part of your fear, then try it on your own. No reason why you can't grill a steak or something in your own back yard, if that's what you're capable of doing and you want to do it. You've no one around to tell you you can't. I myself can't yet grill a steak on a barbecue grill--but
I've never done it and I've been blind since birth. I venture to say that there are probably millions of people just like me, except that they “can see.

John D. Coveleski (New York, New York USA)

**10. “a rush of thoughts came when I read and then reread this story. I will try to keep it short and to the point.

two months out of rehabilitation is a very short time. You are attempting to do many things and this is great. remember you can climb a mountain one step at a time and there will be challenges for a while yet. the challenges will grow, differ in shape and change as you go on and time passes. It is a huge
life change and I hope your family are supportive of you and loving while you learn to fly again.

I hope you are receiving some follow-up professional help and support. if not and you feel you need more help or additional advice, please pursue it. you will feel better for it in the long run.

If you can seek out other people that have been through rehabilitation or blind or vision impaired, you can share ideas and feel less isolated. there is always hope.”

Jennifer Parry (NSW Australia)

**11. “I went through a rehab center for the blind too. I learned a lot and for me it was the best way to tackle my blindness. In a center you live blindness all day and live with other blind people and you all work and talk and grow together.

Like my instructors told us during the first week at the center, “here you will get a great start on the skills and confidence you need. After you finish here, you will go out into the big world and you will perfect those skills and confidences.” So I knew that when I came home I would expect to have moments of low confidence and motivation. But it is what you do with those moments that will tell the tale. If you allow them to rule you, then you will limit yourself. If you take a deep breath and push ahead right then, when you feel this lack of confidence, then that is good. If you give into the moment and freeze, and if you think about it and not let it happen again, then you gain.

One thing we do at our center, is to take the names and phone numbers of our fellow students and we call one another if we are feeling weak or just needing to talk.”

John Parker (USA)

**12. “Oh now! A center is a wonderful place to start the process of adjustment, however it only starts there. After you get home you need to work on what you learned and expand upon it. You will also need to further counsel and train your family and all others around you to what you have learned and become. Remember, adjustment to blindness has to happen with all people in your life and especially with those closest to you.”

Marcy Pepper (Texas USA)

**13. “I finished up training at the Colorado Center for the Blind in May. I am having some of The same doubts. I have been totally blind for all of my life, so it's not a matter of doing things differently. The thing that I am struggling with is that I have gained skills. Yet I am not able to use them because I am living at home with my parents. In fact, they treat me like I'm a child. I am afraid to use my skills because when I've tried, I haven't met up to my parents' expectations. I've made mistakes and I'm criticized for that. Am I alone in this???”

Rachel Black (USA)

**14. “I am having these same problems!!! I didn’t go through a center for my training, I took it at home. I have been partially sighted all my life and only recently did I lose the vision I was born with and I’m not doing so well!!! I have the hardest time with OandM. I get lost and I am very afraid. I also have difficulties in the kitchen, I lose things. Braille is coming along, but I fear I will be slow, but my teachers say practice, practice, practice.

My ultimate fear is I will never get good with the cane and other basic skills. I have seen a few people like this in the blind community. Is it possible that some of us do not ever obtain independence and confidence?”

Fearful in Seattle (USA)

FROM ME: “So how about this individuals question? Within the variety of people, within the uniqueness of human kind, are there some of us who are not capable of gaining useable skill levels? Or of achieving confidence in basic daily skills? If so, what then are their options?”

**15. “To Rachel and Fearful, I think you need to be straight with those who hold you back. You will get better at the techniques you have learned by using them.
Sure, you will make mistakes and occasionally do things less than perfectly, but Rachel, you need to point out to your parents, that their criticism doesn't
help and that they won't be there to take care of you forever, so if they love you they need to help you achieve independence. Its difficult for a parent
to watch their child do things that hold the potential for injury like using a stove or cutting things with a sharp knife but its essential to encourage
that child to master the right way to do those things. I was the eldest of five children and the only one with a vision problem. My mom often talked
me through meal preparation from a different room because it made her nervous to watch me perform potentially hazardous tasks. Still, she encouraged me
to take my night for cooking dinner just like my sighted siblings reasoning that like my brothers, I needed to know how to cook because I would need to eat once I left home. Over protection just adds to your problems instead of helping you learn to overcome the challenges of visual impairment.”

DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega (Colorado USA )

**16. “I shall be brief and say that all of us in our own way have
confidence which just needs to surface at the right time, and
yes, sometimes with the help of others. Each of us can and will
flourish as a blind person and in such a way that we can and
will operate a barbecue , take that first bus ride alone and most
of all feel comfortable at just being us , as individuals.

education with groups such as "thought Provoker" is an utmost import ant step for those who are newly blind and also for those like myself who have been blind for over 20 years.
The feeling of confidence will appear as we step off from our first flight alone with either our canes in hand or at the handle
of well trained Dog Guide.

Our world in this blind community may be dark at times but need not be gloomy but alertness and confidence shall open up many doors which will put a grin on your face. Have a great day.”

Lee A. stone (Hudson, New York USA )

**17. “I was born with RP and lived at home with a mother who also had RP. My mother was confident in her own home doing all the things that a sighted wife and mother would do to take care of her family. When she leaves her own yard however, she's totally dependent on a sighted person to guide her.
She decided that she didn't want this for me. She gave me lots and lots of encouragement and all but forced me into taking advantage of the very scarce
mobility instruction available in Jamaica at the time.
I am grateful to her. This doesn't mean that I am perfectly confident in all I do. That first time has always been the hardest for me. The first time walking in a new neighborhood, the first time going to a new place, and now the first time learning to use a guide dog. No more cane, now I have to depend on someone
else to watch out for me. I stand at the door and shiver realizing that I have to make a move. and the more Nettles and I go out together the more confident I am feeling.
Of course when we return to classes and work in the fall I'll have to work on confidence building all over again.”


FROM ME: “’...Of course when we return to classes and work in the fall I'll have to work on confidence building all over again....’ To use her last sentence, to make sure this part of my thought is out there (and this may be part of her thought too), but ”going back into a familiar environment doesn’t mean you start all over again to build once held confidence? doesn’t mean that you do not build and build confidence and get stronger with each experience? Also doesn’t mean you can’t slip in confidence either. Right?”

**18. “This has been an interesting and all too common situation for many people who are about to do something for the first time. I say that, because I've heard things like this for many years and it isn't exclusive to people who are blind or have other physical disabilities. As a blind person, I've had similar thoughts when confronted with some new situations. In addition, while working as an adjustment counselor at a
rehabilitation center, lack of confidence was a primary block to overcome for our students. Third, now as a volunteer coordinator, I find feelings of inadequacy in new volunteers who have never done a certain task. As a motivational speaker in schools, I hear similar thoughts from many of the teenage students who are trying to decide what to do with their lives.

When I was an elementary and high school student on Long Island, New York, I had a fine and dedicated "Braille Teacher" (Mrs. Goldstein), who
constantly taught that I could do almost anything that I set my mind to. She wouldn't permit me to get away with not performing because I couldn't
see. She was a task-master and, at the time, I thought that she was too demanding, but now I really appreciate what she did for me. My point is that the people around us have much to do with how we react to situations. The person in this story was influenced by his/her family
and acquaintances who were not adjusted. For a person who has spent much of his life accepting that blindness is devastating and results in inability, changing this belief is going to take time, help from others
and a good deal of successful trying. A first step, which might be hard, is to become involved in a group, where others can share experiences, support and knowledge.

One of the best ways to gain confidence is to set aside doubts and try. Unfortunately, the actions of this story's person just encouraged his family and acquaintances to continue their misguided behaviors. It may be hard, but negative attitudes will take time and repeated demonstrations of ability before change is made.”

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, Florida USA )

FROM ME: “Indeed, if you receive adjustment counseling and skills that boost your skills, the significant people in your life will also need assistance in their adjustment. so, what are some of the best ways to help those significant others to get what they need for their adjustment?”

**19. “I was born with some usable vision in my left eye and had that until I was 21 or so. Before I lost the
rest of my vision, I was taught some O&M skills, and that was it. I never
really used these skills because I still lived at home in a rural area and there wasn't that much opportunity for street crossings at lighted intersections, etc. After my
vision loss, I went to our state rehab center in Illinois. The training was very basic at best. They only wanted to teach you the bare minimum. For example, they didn't want to teach me to grill, because I had never done this as a partially sighted person. More importantly, they didn't offer any
ideas for dealing with family or the sighted public as a whole. Many times, I feel, learning the physical skills of living are not enough, especially when you return to an environment where everyone is doubting your abilities.

I was very disappointed in the training and fought with the rehab system for nearly a year to get them to send me to a NFB training center in Minnesota, but I lost that battle.

Since the training was under very controlled circumstances, we really didn't get any "Real world" Experiences. And this, I feel, is at the root of our character's problems. If you are only shown how to do something under controlled circumstances, where every consideration is either handled or not addressed, then it is very difficult to go home and try to use those skills
under uncontrolled conditions, especially when friends and family members are watching. even something as simple as pouring a glass of orange Juice can become excruciatingly uncomfortable if you feel like you are under a microscope. If you spill something, it's because you're blind, of course,
not because you're just prone to clumsiness. This is the hardest aspect of educating the public and family members, I think.

If the person in the thought Provoker is new to blindness, which it sounds like he/she is, the hardest thing will be for him/her to take control in situations where he/she used to be in charge. It's very easy to just sit back and let well meaning sighted people take over, even if you are
proficient in Braille, computers, whatever. It may because he/she is not ready to use his/her skills in public, but it might also be because he/she is afraid to make waves. I can remember how I was encouraged to sit on the
side lines at family gatherings because going against the wishes of my grandparents (they didn't want me helping, serving myself, etc.), would be
considered disrespectful and if I argued, I was not only disrespectful, but
I was considered bitter, ungrateful, etc.

eventually, I moved out on my own and was able to use my skills and learn some new ones. I've learned to pick my battles and I'm trying not to be hypercritical of people who insist on doing everything for me.

The bottom line is, the best, and unfortunately the only way this person will ever be comfortable with blindness and blindness skills is just to use them. Yes, the person may feel like he/she is on display for a while, but that soon goes away.

Will some people in the family feel like he/she is showing off? yes, and that isn't necessarily the blind person's problem. Will people feel uncomfortable watching a blind person grill? Yes, maybe, but here again, this is not the blind person's problem. eventually, friends (the true ones), and family will take your skills for granted and include you as before. Yes, there will always be those few people who will forever be uncomfortable with a blind person, but this is a situation which occurs in
personal and public situations and here again, it's not necessarily the blind person's problem.

Another way I dealt with using my skills in public and gaining confidence was to consciously seek out other blind people in the community. I met blind people of all ages, some whose skills were worse or better than my own. It was a great source of comfort and support. Many of them had been
through much the same situations as I was going through. We were able to learn from each other, and that was also very rewarding to me. I would encourage the person in this thought provoker to actively seek out the blind-- and don't be prejudice about consumer group affiliation, religious
beliefs, etc.

Lisa (Florida, USA)

FROM ME: “Good question!- How much do we pay attention to what others may think or feel or say? I mean, Howe do have to respect some of what others say, but how much do we allow that to dictate to what it is we need to do for ourselves? What suggestions do we have for one another to help us to know where to draw the line?”

**20. “ Just as it has taken you time to get comfortable doing things you used to do in different ways since you became blind, it will take time for people you know to learn that you can do many of the things you used to do in different ways. And you are probably the only one who can help them to learn that you can still grill and still take notes at meetings. The assertiveness needed to claim your place in these settings is an important tool for anyone. Give yourself time to begin to speak on your own behalf.

You've got a lot to integrate into your new way of living. Be easy with

Joyce Kleiber (Wayne, Pennsylvania USA)

FROM ME: “How does it feel to not only have to work through the loss of sight, struggle to gain new skills, then have to turn around and win back respect and/or belief in you by others? did you ever believe that it would mostly be up to you to help your family and friends adjust to blindness, as it relates to their lives?”

**21. “In adolescence, I was shy. Because I was small for my age, people often went out of their way to look after me. At home though, I was the eldest daughter and expected to do my share in housework, childcare, and be my parents surrogate when they were at work. However, at school, I felt self conscious knowing
that people would watch everything I did. A low vision classmate asked if I felt as if everyone was watching me when I ate lunch in the school cafeteria and when I said yes, she laughed and confirmed my impression. Sighted folks just seem to find how we function amazing and worthy of study. I forced myself to concentrate on doing my best and even took a lot of forensics to overcome my fears. I found that I could relax when traveling with my dog guide and
enjoy getting out and doing things myself. Sometimes the fear of making a mistake, looking foolish or getting a few scrapes and bruises keeps us from achieving all we can even more than vision loss. If we don't make the effort though, we have no one to blame but ourselves if our lives become empty.
I believe we get out of life only as much as we are willing to put into it. Reaching out to others and learning to greet our misadventures with humor also help to make a difference. There is an emotional cost of course to facing our fears straight on, and we can choose to take a cab instead of the bus on days when our strength and courage aren't up to making a transfer downtown or trying to locate an unfamiliar building. We could ask a friend for a
lift and that is okay too. The real point is to take our courage in both
hands and get on with living.”

DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega
(Colorado USA )

FROM ME: “In your opinion, what part of confidence has some humor mixed in?”

**22. “This is a tough spot because people are stepping forward taking over things that the person knows he can do, they think they are being helpful. It seems that this person needs to start asserting himself, especially in the areas he knows that he is proficient. If not he will fade into the background and everyone will be bringing him lemonade as he sits in the lounge chair, tapping his toe as the proverbial blind man. Get into action. Use those skills
and take an active part in the scene. If he takes charge, demonstrates that he can do it, then the respect of others and more importantly, his self respect will rise.”

Suzanne Lange (Chico, California

**23. “Confidence comes after real life experiences with vision loss not after receiving training in a school like environment. Putting skills to work in the real world seems to be the trick. I've seen so many blind people come from one or these residential rehab centers and as soon as they are back home they find there "rocking chair" again and let their family take over their duties. I personally don't know what the answer to this problem is. Some people do fine and others don't. It probably has to do with the kind of person they were before they lost their vision.”

Charlie Web ()

**24. “I think the reactions are normal - especially within the context of all that is happening in the country at this time. It takes time with any life change to find one's rhythm.”

Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA)
Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA)

**25. “I understand this totally. I, myself dig in hard and figure out how to do things on my own when I am alone. When it comes up with sighted people around me it is an added challenge to do it. You have the ones that will jump in and do it themselves to take the chore or responsibility away from you. You have others that will watch you and verbally guide you inch by inch instead of letting you feel for yourself. Then you have those that come right out and say, "You can't do that!" These are the people to blame when
your self confidence wavers. But Thank God for those few who don't question your ability and just let you jump up and do it or makes a comment to you not in a way to announce it to everyone, but just to you, " if you need any help just ask me".

Those that will do that are the treasured ones that help you the most to regain your self confidence back.

We need to learn how to speak up for ourselves and take our responsibilities back. We need to live up to our expectations. So what if we can not do it the way everyone else does it or the way we did it before, take joy in our accomplishments that we have figured out to get the job done now.

Parents and family members are the hardest to face up too and say, :I can do it!", but they are the ones that hold us back the most. My Mom does this to me and it is easy for someone else to tell you that you need to speak to them, but it is the hardest thing on earth to do. Keep plugging away. Mom, does not say very often now, "You can't do that", but after 5 years she still does not know how to sit back and let me do it by myself.

No, it is not easy at all, but definitely worth the effort to not give in to
your blindness. We all have "blind days" when we are frustrated feeling around to find something and we know it would take a mere second to glance with our eyes. We just need to take a deep breath and keep going..”


**26. “No matter what you do, there will be opinions from those who are watching. If you don't do it right, it's because you are blind. If you do the task flawlessly,
you are considered to be great! The best thing to do is probably the toughest financially. Move out on your own. then you can relearn without a lot of judgement, build your confidence back up without everyone knocking you down.”

Tom Rash ( )

**27. You know, breaking old habits can be hard. Especially old habits which were a result of loss of ability and self confidence and I don’t mean all things once given up are hard to reclaim, just some things. What I noticed in the story was the two examples were situations in a setting where there were many other people present. Also, that the task was one that would directly effect all people present. So those specific situations were of a very high profile and had a much larger stress level involved than most other situations might. Yes, some of us might jump right back in that type of situation, but some of us might not and might have to build up to it. So that person who can’t just jump in may wish to find a way to build up to the large group situation by grilling or taking notes for a lesser occasion first.”

Mary S. (Iowa USA)

**28. “I never got my confidence back. I am older and find it harder to come back. I am tired, weaker and my staying power is less now. I think if I were younger it would be different. I realize we are all individuals and some older persons will do better than I. Also that I will do better than some. Who do you think has the larger responsibility for regaining confidence, the blind person or those around them?”

Grandma Betty (Kansas USA)

FROM ME: “How much do you think age is a factor in regaining confidence? And, how about Betty’s question? Can the blind person who has the will with in them make it even if those around them do not? Or, can the blind person who does not have the will, yet has good people pushing them make it?”

**29. “I have a question about this display of confidence that some people show. What is it when a blind person is always saying “No problem, I can do it.” And you know they really can’t and I mean it because they try it and fail or they just say it and get defensive if you try and help them I think some blind people mean well when they say they can even though they can’t. I think they can do a lot, but they might be saying that they want to do it all or are willing to try or are wanting other peoples respect. I like people to feel confident, but I do not like this false confidence that some people seem to need to show. I whish these people will be more honest with themselves and admit when they need help.

I am sighted. So how can I know if a blind person really needs help or not?”

Mark Platt (USA)

FROM ME: “What I say is, ask, don’t assume. What do you suggest for this guy.”

**30. “Confidence is a fickle thing. some days I have it and some I do not. Some days I jump right out the front door and go to the store and some days I just can’t do it. Anyone else out there like me?”


**31. “I have a brother who has been totally destroyed by his blindness. He has not recovered any confidence. He stays in his apartment and has all brought to him. He has seen a counselor and they tried with him and finally he stopped seeing them. I think he was just hanging on to his life before he went blind and losing his vision was the straw that broke the camels back. Can this happen?”

June Everet (USA)

FROM ME: “Can this one stresser, going blind be the last stressing factor in a person’s life, causing them to lose it (totally ruin their life)?”

**32. ”First of all, to Mark as you suggest can ask. It is okay to ask what or how or even if someone can help of provide assistance. Of course the response of the blind person in question can range from allowing someone to do everything based on insecurity, or even anger because of a false sense of need to present as independent. An overreaction by a blind person can simply add a perception of anger to society's stereotype of blind people as helpless. It takes some time some ingredients and certainly some confidence to come to a place where one is not basing response on fear or a false sense of performance.

The TP is indeed interesting because on face it would seem that if an individual has received good adjustment training that they wouldn't cringe or become paralyzed when shopping or grilling or whatever came their way. One of the things we talk with students at our Center about is dealing with societal attitudes, fears and "soft bigotry" which is one response of society
when dealing with us. Since there are not enough blind folks around in the everyday life of most people, we are in fact subject to minority stereotyping and all that goes within. Our selves and our families are the first two fronts we need to deal with in changing attitudes and testing and building confidence.
A few months at a rehab center, even 6 to 9 months and even with a good send philosophy dealing with emotional adjustment, alternate techniques and attitudes may not be enough to off set the years of negativity which the student has learned. We challenge students to work hard to develop a sound grounding so that they can deal with families. Of course, they cannot do that unless they themselves believe that it is okay to be blind and that they can and should attempt to participate on an equal playing field. That means responsibilities as well as rights, empowerment as well as entitlement. Even the best program
of training cannot guarantee that blind person's confidence and certainly cannot guarantee how the family will respond or behave.

From a programmatic perspective, I would ask how often the student did the shopping, grilling etc. at the Center. Was it a one time event or were these tasks done regularly enough to become a routine rather than an exception. Did he fully participate in discussions of attitudes or was he (as some of us
do/have done) sleeping during those times? How often did he get out and meet the challenges of activities in the community when not in class? With whom
did he associate,? And what about the training program? what did it do or maybe fail to do in terms of confronting and challenging/ Again, were the grilling and shopping tasks
to complete or challenges and things done routinely to convince a blind guy that they can do stuff. Did he have some vision that he relied upon or does he regardless of vision or not believe that vision and vision techniques are better? I am guessing that either he did not have enough time or that he was not immersed enough in a program resulting in his ability to practice that confidence outside his training. Certainly there are other factors including culture, etc. Family dynamics can impose themselves on ones independence for sure. But after all is said and
done, its still up to the student or person who is blind. To be sure the years of learning the negative attitudes about blindness are hard to replace even with the best of training. But I have to ask why did he sit there and not get up to grill or do the notes? It appears to be lack of confidence on his part and maybe some family dynamics and maybe even some incomplete aspects of a training program. But there may be something else. relating to what society has taught and we have learned so well relating to entitlement and lack of responsibility. Maybe its just the expectation that society has that we either cannot or should not have to do the grilling when another person with sight can do it. That society teaches that we cannot or should not have to take notes equally, even if we have the ability...because we are blind. Society does not expect us to do these things or to initiate doing these things. We sometimes do not expect that anyone
will ask us to do we sometimes sit because of this expectation. WE sit in a soft chair of soft bigotry either comfortable or not confident enough to challenge the status quo.”

Ed Kunz (Texas USA)

FROM ME: “Are their others out there who would be willing to write in with their take on this. Is it true that the environmental factor in ones life may be stronger than we think?”
than not?”

**33. “Its very interesting to hear how different people deal with their fears and low self esteemed. Lack of confidence is usually low self esteemed. Not being able to go out the door is a fear. It is possible to reduce the effect of both of these and in many cases eliminate them all together. The person who can always do everything is just dishonest. Nobody on the planet can do everything. They are trying to cover their low self esteemed with

To Grandma Betty, I would say this. If you are tired because of age and a hard life, then you may deserve a rest. But tiredness can also come from just being lazy. The body works on the principle, "use it or loose it". So if your tiredness comes from in-activity, get up out of that comfy chair and do
something. It doesn't matter what just do it. You'll feel a whole lot better about yourself and within yourself.

I think it our responsibility to help others feel comfortable with us. Everybody needs help from others much of the time, we just need a little more than others and not as much as some. So, be gentle with the well meaning and help them to be good and useful helpers. They cannot know what it is like to
have a Vision Impairment so don't expect them to.
Have a happy day,”

Alan McClintock (Kuranda, Queensland, Australia)

FROM ME: “Okay, here’s this guys take on this. How do you see it? I know their are other ways too?”

**34. “I read Thought Provoker and often feel like an out sider, the way you might at an AA meeting, which I once attended. I'm a recovering alcoholic, not the preachy kind, not with friends like Bob Hansen, but some times I relate, and some times I learn a new thing.

Today I was biting into a plum, and later a peach. Both had tiny tags stuck on them, and even though I know they are on them, I picked them from the basket after all, I still bit into the tag, and I thought of the blind. Is this a well known thing about these tags on fruit?

Another thought provoking item is the unneeded assistance. My friend Charlie is near blind, uses a cane, about the same as Bob, they told me that, I've no way of comparing, and he gets very angry and upset when he is given unwanted or unneeded help, most especially if they touch him. He was escorted out of his work place by an employee during a fire scare. He was furious but kept it in and told me later how he felt. I didn't understand, still don't. Maybe it's because I was a cop in the inner city and saw such disrespect and where a blind person was more victim than neighbor, and maybe my view is misguided. I feel, if there
could be a category for norms, what we call non handicapped people, meaning not perfect either, unneeded help would not be the worse. It does show caring, unasked for and unneeded, sure, but still that person is not your enemy. I guess I make life that stark.”

Harbo (Philadelphia USA)

FROM ME: “Well other readers, I know there are many of you who are not blind or in some way do not see yourself identifying closely with the blind. However, you are learning a thing or two about blindness and humanity, right? Those of us who are blind are learning from you.”

**35. “I'm sighted also and I have to agree with Mark, I have a close friend who is blind and he's very defensive, he do not want any help even when help is needed. What would be the best thing to do in his case ?”

Luz H Martinez (Colombia South America)

**36. “You know, , you can't have confidence without exercising personal power. And so long as we as a community appear not to be willing to use the power we do have, as a market, as voters, and as consumers of services, etc. I'm not sure we should have confidence.

So often BVI people tell their stories of how they were dealt with unjustly, but how often do those stories include what they did about it? Practically never. We seem to accept unfair treatment as inevitable and irremediable. I doubt many BVI people know to whom or how to complain effectively.
Those services we receive are paid for with tax dollars or with charitable donations that allow donors to reduce their tax burden. Even if an individual is not a taxpayer, his or her families and loved ones probably are, and the rest of society that consider Good worth doing did. And we can all be taxpayers,
which means we all can take ownership of our society. These programs are servants of the community, not masters. We do not have to accept when they give us poor or mediocre training, etc.

I recently spent many weeks helping our county library system get their plans to have accessible computers in every branch on track and completed, an action I took on my own initiative and which, by the way, was much appreciated by the libraries. I firmly believe that if twenty blind people showed up regularly
wanting to use the computers this would all have happened years ago. We have only ourselves to blame when we pitch our power a way. And as I said, when we do that, we have nothing that we deserve to be confident about.”

Nan Hawthorne (Bothell, Washington USA)

**37. “What I noticed about the story was that in one situation (taking notes), the blind person chose to let someone else do the task. In the other situation (grilling), someone else decided that they should do the grilling instead of the blind person who had done this task previously. I wonder if the taking notes situation was really a blindness issue, or if it was just that the person hadn't been there in a while and presumably someone else had been taking notes at the meetings. As a
person who is frequently requested to take notes at meetings, I would jump at the chance to have someone else do it! As for the grilling situation, I wonder what motivated Chuck to say he would handle it. Does he really enjoy grilling? Did he think the blind person couldn't handle it? As a sighted person, before I offer to "help" someone who is blind, I try to consider whether I would offer "help" if the person were sighted.”

Still Learning - and hopefully always will be (Michigan USA)

**38. “Seeker, Yes, I can relate. I have good days and other days when I stay home. Some of the inconsistency for me, however, is from fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue
syndrome more than from blindness. But I think we all have our days.

As to blind persons and pseudoconfidence, yeah, I don't like that either. Sometimes the ones who yell out "I'm the greatest," or "hey, look at me!" the
loudest really aren’t all that confident. And I simply don't believe some blind persons who try to impress us by saying such things as "I never get lost.” etc. Thanks.”

Lauren Merryfield (Washington USA)

**39. “I think learning alternative techniques in a rehab environment where you are surrounded by others who are in your same situation is a whole different ball game than going home to a place where you are unique and your circumstances have changed. While the people around you wanted you
to get the training the person who returns from the center is not the person who went there. You now have two jobs, using what you have learned and educating the people around you. It can be an awesome burden to carry having to teach others what you can do when you are still reeling from vision loss and gaining confidence on your own. It is hard to move away from the supportive environment and into the 'real' world
on your own and seems less than fair that you should have to battle peoples fears to let you do it on your own but this is the way it works. You cannot let other people shake your confidence or sabotage what you have learned you have to keep on fighting and prove to yourself and others that you can do it. It won't be easy but the rewards are two fold. Your own confidence and the pride in educating a few more well meaning people that once you lose vision life is not over.”

Robyn (St. Louis, Missouri USA)

**40. “ I am sighted. So how can I know if a blind person really needs help or not?"

“If he asks for it. Simple, right?”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**41. "After reading some of the responses I thought about the time I went through my local rehab center and the "personal adjustment training" program. I was there for a total of 4 months and reflecting back to when I reached my 2 months of training, there were still many a thought as to "could I do"? "Am I still able to do"?
During this time there was no one working with my family or friends as to what were some of the things I was doing and how important it will be for them to work with me on.... As the question was asked in #6 with to who is working with family or friends at the time of the training.

Assertiveness was mentioned many a times and coming from the stand point of losing my sight I can tell you that it was not the most easiest thing to do when you come from a family who insists on doing things for you. After a while you find yourself fighting everybody and then your looked upon as the one having the issues. I can tell everyone that I went through this and it was a most difficult time in my life cause not only was I dealing with my vision loss, but at the same time I was fighting to regain my independence and having a most difficult time doing so.

What did help me in my growth was being able to interact with other people who had similar situations, but looking back on things I wish there would have been more speakers to come in and talk about how society can be as well as how family can sometimes treat us. Along with that it would have helped me in listening to someone who was in the working world as well as acquiring their degree from a college or university. This would have done me a lot better knowing that blind people can be successful.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that there should have been more of a mentoring program or mentoring support system to not only assist me in my adjustment, but to also talk with my family and friends in the ways I could have been supported. I even today still sometimes have my panic attacks when I go out and sometimes they get the better of me and sometimes I can control them and over come them. I guess I have been the type of person who has always needed to know that I have some support from someone or somewhere.
So if I had to put emphasis on one particular thing when someone is at the rehab. center receiving training it is having a mentoring program in which the newly blind person can socialize with the experienced blind person. This way once again, it will allow the newly blind person to know that there are different ways to do the same things they use to do before losing their sight.”

Luis Roman (East Chicago, Indiana)

**42. "If I were responding to this person, I would say that things are much different when you are learning at a rehab center and when you are practicing your blindness skills in front of sighted people. The difficult thing about practicing your skills with sighted people is that they are watching to see if you make a mistake or at least, it feels that way. You may be a little embarrassed to be using different techniques even though there is nothing wrong with these alternative techniques. But feeling comfortable and starting to use these skills will make you feel better about yourself and will increase your
self-confidence. The worst thing you can do is to not use these skills because your self-confidence will disappear. Grilling may not be something you may want to wait a little bit to try but why not start with Braille and computer and go from there.”

Mary Jo Partyka

**3. I think it all depends upon the overall quality and quantity of the rehab training. When I received rehab training before, the instructor could only come
out to my parents' house once a month. I don't think this is nearly enough if one wants to have good daily living skills that make him independent. My
situation is a bit unusual in that I am living in an apartment and while I am getting some training, it really isn't rehab training by a certified rehab
instructor. My parents and I are currently debating whether to push for some formal rehab training or not. The life skills tutor I have here in the apartment
is quite good and she seems to work very well with me, but I don't really think it would be a bad idea for a rehab instructor to come out here and give
my tutor some tips. After all, my tutor had never worked with a visually-impaired person. I have discussed this with her and she is very open to the idea.
For example, I haven't had any formal O&M instruction out here. While my tutor has done an excellent job of taking me on walks and working with me on routes,
she is unfamiliar with O&M instruction in the formal sense. The difficult task in all this? My VR counselor was transferred to a different office and I
didn't know that until I spoke with my mother last week. My VR case is currently closed, but perhaps we will try to follow up with the Client Assistance
Program if nothing else works. I admit I have never called CAP before, but I mostly know what to expect as I have received Braille documentation from my
VR agency which includes a bit about the Client Assistance Program. But back to my tutor. She has also been showing me how to use a George Foreman grill
that my mother ordered for me. I must admit though, as great-tasting as the food is when it comes off the grill, the thing is a pain in the neck to clean.
Even my tutor says so. Hopefully my parents and I will not be faced with the same questions asked of us by VR, i.e., what does this apartment have to do
with anything, and why do I need a job coach, let alone a job, O&M instruction, or anything like that. I really like living here, and it gives me a sense
of independence even though I am with others most of the time. This is a community in which my parents and I have chosen for me to live, and I will not
tolerate some VR person telling me off. Yes this has happened in the past and I honestly think that people who say things like that are insecure themselves.
On the other hand, I would welcome some input from a certified rehab instructor, if that instructor were able and willing to come out to my apartment more
than once a month. I hope I've said all this well.
Jake Joehl,