Blindness And Babies


Blindness And Babies

     "Stand up straight: head up, don't bend your knees and stick out your bottom. Keep those fingers out of yourr eyes! Good, looking good. You look tall and proud. Hear the other kids? Go on in and find a seat with them."

     Stopping outside the room of children, members of a summer camp for blind kids, the day staffer continued his briefing to his nighttime replacement. "He's eight. As you can see he needs a lot of work. We just came from swimming and all the kids needed to change. We took so long to get out here because I was getting him to do as much for himself as he could. I mean, he doesn't know how to pull off his own shirt. Then getting dressed, you have to prompt him to look for tags so he doesn't get his clothes on backwards. He's never brushed his own teeth or tied his shoes. A nice kid, has a cute sense of humor. But WOW, is he behind!"

     “It's pretty sad to see a kid at this age being so helpless, so dependent. On the surface it's hard to tell just how it came about; parents who either don’t know any better or don’t care.” Commented the night staffer.

     “Yeah, compare Bobby to him, both eight. He’s miles ahead, we have to work hard to keep up with him. Blind, but just a regular eight-year-old. Even Timmy who’s six is more advanced then our little friend. Both their parents are really with it.”

     “Yup. I know what I’ll say when we set his parents down and have a good long talk.” Said the night staffer.

e-mail responses to

**1. “Hello friends, boy, this touched a live-wire in me! I didn't have to think much
about it. We all know what will happen to our "little friend" if he and his
parents do not make a turnaround. That is not difficult to see. I myself have
seen or met blind adults who I am sure started out much like this little one.
What a great injustice for him to not have his independence and dignity. Yes,
even small children can act with dignity. Of course, children will be
children, my son has been know many times for putting his shirts on backwards,
or not having his shoes tied, but only because most 8 year old boys, could
care less what they looked like or the fact that Mama says "you could fall and
break your neck if you do not tie your shoes!" Now, if I were to tell my son,
mind you now, he is 8 years old... to go and get his clothes, and I will dress
him, he would think I'd popped my cork! No boy his age wants his mother
dressing him, much less changing his underwear. Now our "little friend" may
not care at all, why? Because he has not been taught the lessons all children
should be taught, blind or not. Brad and I strive to teach our children to
take care of themselves, washing, dressing, brushing teeth and even getting
snacks for themselves. Our youngest is four now, and she can do all of these
things as well. I won't go on any further here, but to say this...... "Unless
our little friend and his parents are educated about blindness and all the
possibilities available", he is marked for a sheltered and lonely life, unable
to take care of himself, much less a wife and children of his own.”

Sheila Loos (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**2. “I just met a seventeen year old girl who has none of the skills of blindness,
partly because she is a Russian Immigrant, but also partly because her mother
is such a perfectionist she has not allowed her daughter to do much without
criticism. I spent a day with her teaching her some Braille, discussing
mobility, and judging her kitchen skills. She's a brilliant kid, just needs a
little instruction and she runs with it. You have to blame the parents here.
They keep expecting the state to do for them, and never really analyzed how to
teach her. D's mother has a three year old daughter also, and says things
like, "A. at three knows more than D at 17," which of course is not true, but
I can see where it is coming from. As a parent, I never believed in coddling
or protecting my children. I felt they needed to learn skills and put them to
immediate use. So I taught them to cross the street properly at the age of
five, for example. They had to get to school, and I had to get their father
to work as public transport here is useless. It was a skill they needed, and
got, even though their friends teased them for walking to the corner to cross!
Other mothers insisted their children were not allowed to do this, even while
the children at five years old would dash out in the middle of the street, not
looking, terrified, but needing to cross. Or even at eight, if the mothers
assumed what they had was a child who hadn't grown up yet. Don't get me
started here! I get too angry. I also see it with blind adults who in their
parent’s eyes could never grow up. What a stinking legacy to give your child!”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York, USA)

**3. “Perhaps we are all like babies when first losing sight. A hill once climbed
is no longer a mountain. I feel, though childless, that the role of
parenting is to raise the children to a state of independence. This
definition should not change because of any factor. The most crippling part
of being handicapped is the attitudes of others. Next… can we take a
close look at those individuals??”

Pamela McVeigh (Herman, Nebraska, USA)

**4. “I have 4 children who are going blind. I have let them do whatever they
desired to do. They have raised and trained horses. Ridden them over
jumps and all. They have gone camping on their own, have taken midnight
hikes in the woods. I have found that being a parent to them isn't any
different than that of kids with normal sight except that other people
think that I am a bad parent. They think that I should restrict my kids
and coddle them. I am told that they should be put in an institution with
others like themselves. As though they weren't like us. What ever that
means! So at times, it would be easier to do everything for them and then
the other people in our lives wouldn't judge us so harshly. Some of our
relatives have been the worst. They thought that having horses for the
kids was dooming them to an early death or severe injury. But I have still
let my kids ride bikes etc. I let them say, I do not want to do this or
try this anymore. Maybe the parents of that little eight-year-old folded
with the pressure of other peoples' opinions. Maybe they thought that they
were making life easy for him because he had so much to overcome. We all
know that they were making life more difficult for him in the long run. We
parents must not protect our children from mistakes. That is the best way
to learn. Thomas Edison was asked what he learned from working on the
light bulb for so many years. He said, "That there are 2,145 ways not to
make a light bulb." Not letting a child learn is a form of child abuse.”

Rory Conrad (Dunlop, Iowa, USA)

**5. “Parents don't just react this way to blind children. In 1971 My son was
born we were soon told that he had a problem just what the doctors would
not sure. Eventually he was diagnosed as having a rare disease that
caused half his body cells to grow at a different rate. The prognosis was
that he would never live to be a teenager. We were very upset and did not
know how to cope with this. We have another son about 4 years older and
would not bring ourselves to make a difference in the two. As we cared for
them and watched them both develop we noticed that the younger became
very independent because everything he mastered was a struggle. I am happy
to report that my younger son is now an adult and a very strong individual
both physically and emotionally. I guess what I learned from all this was
blessings sometimes at first seem like burdens and that when you don't
know what to do it is often best to do nothing different or special.”

Jerry Whitaker (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

**6. “Growing and learning, trying out new things and finding their limits and to
grow beyond them is innate to a person, especially a child. I do not think
that overprotecting and smothering a child is unique to the parents of a
blind child. I have seen the result several times with sighted children.
I do not speak from experience here in raising children. I do not have any,
let alone a handicapped one in any way. But I have been a child myself.

Being born to elderly parents, I had to fight for my independence. and in
many areas, I only gained it when I left home at 24.
Protecting a child is as natural to the parents as is exploring and growing
for the child. It is finding the right balance that is important and also
difficult. While parents may run a danger of overprotecting a child
sometimes to begin with, it is even more dangerous to do so if the child is
handicapped in any way. With a handicapped child, the "standards" are not
as openly to be seen as with "normal" children. There are no other children
of the same age group around to compare development of the child to. Having
contact to parents with similarly handicapped children can be very
important and helpful, but some parents still isolate themselves and the
handicapped child as if to have one would be something shameful. -- Now, I
don't know to what degree that is true on the other side of the ocean, but
over here, I am sometimes amazed at the lack of knowledge that exists of
both a condition and also the help that is available.
That is true for the parents of children as well as for adults in such a
situation. In general, I think it is important to seek information and seek
the support of others in a similar situation. Being new to being blind and
just beginning to face the situation and begin the adjustment process, I
have become aware of just how important it is to see what is possible. I
also am walking that wire of trying to do what I can and learn what I can
without overdoing things. I find that it is many small steps toward the one
great goal of achieving independence. I don't think it is so different from a
child learning their way around their environment and growing more and more
independent and I find that the right balance is important. I need a challenge to rise
to and to grow, to be able to look at the things that I have already accomplished, but I also need to be careful that I don't take on things
that are beyond me still. The result would be discouragement and maybe in
turn make me stop trying. Again, though, I do not think that this is
something particular to blindness or blind people only. Rather I think it
is one of those universal contacts in life that everyone faces as they go
along the way and grow more into the potential that they are meant to have.

I like to think of people as eagles that are meant to fly and soar the
skies. Getting up there takes practice and patience and often the support
and help of others, who are either up there soaring already or flapping their wings at our sides. It doesn't do to clip the wings to protect us from rising up and therefore the possibility of falling. Eagle's wings are meant to be stretched in flight and soar. But sometimes it is necessary to
wait till the feathers have grown strong enough to withstand the storms of life. An eagle's child I am and meant to fly. I am glad for the companions I have found along the way. Let's try and soar together.

Just a quick note of introduction here: I have only recently joined the ranks of people subscribed to this mailing list. I am writing from Berlin, Germany. I am 33 years old and married. I have been losing my eyesight due to a degenerative eye condition I had for a number of years. It decided to
take a turn for the worse last winter and my loss of sight has been very rapid. Dealing with it and facing the new challenges is not always easy.

I have made some wonderful friends through the Internet. With some of those contacts at least, I am convinced that the Maker of all things was involved
and provided me with the support and the resources I need to grow beyond
the obstacles that fate has thrown into my path. I am grateful to have
found this list. It is too early for me to tell whether I will grow through it
or if I can contribute something meaningful here. At the very least,
though, I am happy to know that there are others out there.
What I do in my free time has changed to some degree at least. I used to watch TV a lot and collect video. I am into Star Trek and Lois & Clark. some of that has not changed. With good old Trek, I know it so well that I can just listen to it and most of the time still know what is going on. I have also been into writing what is called fanfiction, that is stories based on the TV shows I enjoy. More recently, and actually in connection with me trying to come to terms with my blindness, I have discovered a new way of writing, that is poetry. Writing poetry was something I was never into before and had actually not thought possible, being a second-language writer. I don't think I will go on to win literary prices, but I found it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Aside from being a fledgling writer, I love playing with language and words. I do miss my dictionary. I have also always enjoyed corresponding with pen-pals. Email has added a new dimension and spontaneity to that, but I still consider writing an email letter writing for the most part. so if anybody would like to correspond with someone from Germany, you can reach me at

Last but not least, I should mention my husband. Having been married for a good six years, we are still very much in love and best friends as we had been when we got married. this recent blow of fate has not been easy on the two of us, but my hubby has been as supportive and understanding as anyone could be. I don't know how I could make it without him. And I do take an interest in him occasionally. Spending time with my guy is my favorite past time.”

Doris Schmill (Berlin, Germany)

B. Hi, guys, Just today I had a little episode happen here that made me think about
being blind and people's attitude. Now, I have a very supportive and
understanding husband. This morning, we were putting together a birthday
package to one very special friend who I had met on the Internet, one of
the weird "coincidences" that I consider to be Fate.
Anyway, that friend was the first blind person I ever met personally and
went on to become a dear friend to both my husband and me. What happened
this morning was that my husband was totally startled when I wanted gift
wrapping paper for our friend's present. We had, after all, already wrapped
the things in blister foil to prevent them from getting damaged in
shipping. Our friend would not see the paper, so why wrap it ...
I totally disagreed. Just because our friend and me can't see the paper
doesn't mean we don't enjoy wrapping or unwrapping a present respectively.

I then went on to wrap and pack most of the things myself with only limited
help by hubby, which in turn was a first and filled me with a feeling of
triumph at having done something myself. What this made me think about, though, is the assumptions people make. My
husband really is understanding, but didn't grasp this one. I guess it is
really a different way to look at things and openness on both sides is
needed to help the adjustment process and seeing that a blind person is not
so different from a sighted one after all. With this gift wrapping, I think
sighted people might choose and wrap a present mainly because that looks
nice and the paper is pretty. I am not sure if I speak for blind people
here in general, don't even know at this point if our blind friend cares
about wrapping a gift, but to me it's the whole process that I appreciate.

My loss of sight has not changed that. Had hubby given me an unwrapped gift, I guess I would have been just a touch disappointed.

Going from specific to the more general, I greatly admire the NFB for the
positive outlook they take on blindness. Just the other week, I got into
contact with the writer's division of the NFB and learned that by joining
that one, I would also become a member of the NFB, something I am really
excited about. I had thought only a few short months ago that I would never
write again, and now I am not only doing that but have met with others who
do too. Chris (Boone) [I would have probably addressed this to you privately, but
there was no email address with your name. I hope the rest of you listers
don't mind this.] you mentioned the schools for the blind in your country
and encouraged me to think about the possibility of going there. That is in
fact what I have been doing for a while. My aforementioned friend is a
teacher for computer access at a school for the BLIND in Minnesota and had
a while ago said I would profit immensely from going there. I tend to
agree. In fact, it is such an odd combination of circumstances that led
there, that I do believe this could be where my way lies. However, there is
the one small problem of financing such an endeavor. It does not seem very
likely to happen, but I am trying to at least keep dreaming and hoping ...
and try to do what I can to make a dream work out, however unlikely it may
be. Any suggestions?

I have had more contacts with you guys over there and also received a lot
more encouragement from there than over here. This country has a fairly
good social system still in spite of all the cutbacks. Nobody starves here,
but there is more to life than just that. Some training is provided here,
too, depending on a number of conditions. However, I find that adjusting to
blindness is a lot more than teaching skills. It is also helping people
develop the right attitude necessary to make it in life.

Going back to our little friend in the story, if he were taught the basics
of how to dress himself, but his parents still raised him in a spirit of
fear and being less than what others are, in all likelihood, he would never
see and reach his potential. Getting used just a little to new ways of
doing and perceiving things, I find that I do things differently, but this
"different" does not have to be any better or worse than what a sighted
person does. I hope to still do my part, even though maybe in different
ways than if I had sight still. I am not sure exactly how to educate people to be more open and to not
treat blind people as handicapped any more than what is there. I think
misconceptions are a large part of it. For a sighted person, a large part
of their world is visual. They cannot imagine what it is like without
sight. I am just beginning to see that myself. Yet even I have no idea of
how people perceive and visualize things that have never seen color for
example. It's absolutely fascinating to learn more about that. It is an
excursion into a new world and as such can be exciting. People do make
assumptions and hesitate to ask questions. I have had friends withdraw from
me. Those who stayed around feel awkward at times. a longtime pen pal
recently asked me if her talking about her new garden and what she enjoys
there, the things she sees and loves, would upset me to hear now that I can
no longer see such things myself. I was glad, though, that she asked
because I could reassure her that I was not. she had been afraid to ask,
fearing she would make me uncomfortable. She did not. If she hadn't asked,
we would have missed out on a lot of things to share. Thus I think one of the important things for us to do is to be open and
encouraging. I myself am afraid to ask at times. So much is new and scary
here. The simplest things need to be relearned. I am immensely grateful
that I have found a friend who is at ease with his blindness and puts me
at ease about it too. There I feel safe to ask "How do you...?" It's
simple things like how to pour a water without spilling (mastered that for
the most part already. ) or deeper things like "How do you dream?"

Anyway, I hope I will do my share and be open and encouraging to people who
are insecure how to approach me. This is largely theoretical still as
often I just want to go hide. But it I am learning that it is a matter of
feeling free to ask help when I need it and saying, "Thanks, but I can do
this myself" when I can.

I was encouraged by reading about those of you who raise blind or sight
impaired children and let them find their own limitations. It is sad that a
parent doing that gets comments like them being bad parents. But I hope
that by going forward and interacting with sighted people, we can help
others see us and blind children not as handicapped but just as being a
little different in some way, and hopefully come to the point to rejoice in
those differences."

Doris Schmill (Berlin, Germany )

A suggestion here: Could those of you comfy with sharing your name with the
other listers also include your email address with it so that we could get
in touch with each other privately if that seems more appropriate? Just my
two cents.

FROM ME: "Many questions, much to learn and all more positive in nature then not. There is so much to share with a person at this stage of adjustment. What all do we suggest to this lady? (I say getting it from your peers is one of the best ways to get assistance.)"

**7. “One thing I saw in the story about “our little guy” is that we all know he will some day be “out big guy.” That means he’ll be carrying all his blindness related baggage along. Posture, keeping your clean and generally not looking weird is important. I know some blind adults that have never gotten over these “blindisums” they had as kids, weird. “Weird,” is what I am saying, but not meaning to be mean. However, it sets them apart from all others. Poking your eyes! Who does that!?! Rocking, who does that!?! And these guys can even be real smart too, but “weird looking.” That is sad. Something that can be avoided. Something that if caught at a very early age can be stopped.

Think of it here is the guy/gal setting in an employment interview and they start rocking or poking their eyes or both! What do you think their chances are to get that job?

Maybe they are talking to someone and their don’t even try to make eye contact. Will that be seen as non-social or “its just that weird blind guy/gal.” Nice, but different.

Come on people! We are people, we are better than that! Parents, teachers, counselors, friends, if you see it stop it! Be the best you can be!

(Person from Denver, Colorado, USA)

FROM ME: “Blindisms are real. They are not acceptable, not in the broader world, right? I know there are theories or human behavior science articles on how they come about, but so what, they still need to be extinguished. Are there any of you out there that have gotten rid of yours? How did you do it? What works?”

**8. “Firstly, I think that we as blind people and the National Federation of the
Blind in particular have a big responsibility to support blind parents.
One of the first ways to do this is by educating the professionals who will
teach the parents of blind children. My mom can tell some pretty strange
stories of the advice she got when they learned that I was blind. One
professional even told her that if she let me play with things using my
feet "I would be just like a monkey". Well, that might have developed more
physical fitness but I don't think I would have become quite as creative as
a monkey when it came to using my "hind legs". We have to have compassion
on these parents. If they knew better, they could do more. I was lucky.
I was the youngest of 4 kids. My parents didn't have time to keep me out
of everything and coddle me every minute. Wyoming also had some people on
their Services for the Visually Handicapped staff who believed in me. I
saw my first Braille writer at the age of 4. Max left it at my house
hoping that I would play with it. He made my parents realize that it was
perfectly normal and reasonable that I would be literate and use Braille.
I can't thank them enough for pushing me to be my best, and for pushing
others around me to let me be my best.

I will never forget the day I left the South Dakota School for the Blind
for the last time. I had just finished fourth grade with no formal
mobility training. The training I had gotten was an afternoon in a
classroom learning to trail a wall. The principal asked how I would get to
and from school. He was flabbergasted when my mom determinedly announced
that I would walk. When they balked at that idea, Mom told them that I had
already been walking in our small town during the summers and that my
brothers went to the same school as I did so they would be able to teach me
how to get there. Needless to say, I walked to school. Sometimes, it was
up hill both ways with the wind blowing from every direction... I did it

I wish these parents and this child all the love we can give and hope that
the best comes for them. Being around some blind adults and other blind
children would be good for them.”

Nancy Coffman(Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: “Is this not a story of expectations? Also, “professional” does not mean correct or high in expectations or positive in all the right ways in philosophy. Here too, folks, you should shop around.”

**9. “I have to agree with everything I've read. I had Retinablastoma when I was
a baby and lost my left eye when I was 15 months old. My right eye I could
see fairly well out of but I still got the you can't do that, or you can't
try that because you can't see other people. My mom and dad however let me
try everything and never said you can't do that. Now I am glad that they
were like that because I am now losing the sight in my right eye and my
attitude is "Watch me do this" and "Don't even think about telling me I
can't do that". I am looking forward to the challenges of learning new ways
to do things and in trying to educate the people who think I can't or others
with blindness can't do the things that they do.”

Rhonda Sampley (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: “Two in a row! From two ladies who had parents who believed they were to be treated like their sighted siblings. And, they ended up like all those others who are normal, high achievers who can compete like the next guy. Watch out, they are here to stay!”

**10. “How exciting it is to see this list grow and to read the wonderfully
thoughtful responses from an ever broadening circle of friends. If every
parent would ask themselves one simple question they could come a long way
toward ensuring that their child, blind or sighted, grew up to be all that
he or she could be. That question is this, Is my child age appropriate?
If not, what must I teach him so that he can be on a level with his
friends and classmates?

To Doris schmill, I am so glad you joined the conversation. I think
your writing is splendid, even if you were not writing in your second
language! Do you know about the comprehensive training centers for blind
adults in this country? There are several excellent ones. These are
places where you can learn the skills of blindness: independent travel,
Braille, computer proficiency, cooking etc. Some of the best centers are
located in Louisiana, Minnesota, Colorado, and Nebraska. I know that
would be a long, long way for you to come and the time commitment too is
great (6 to 9 months), but with your obvious talent, courage and desire to
continue to have a full and contributory life, you might wish to look into
this option.”

Chris Boone( Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania, formerly from Nebraska, New
Mexico, Oregon and Colorado. USA)

**11. “When I read the passage I was most disturbed and had to reflect a bit.
During most of my life I haven't had much contact with blind people and
assumed that they were, for the most part, like me, independent. I guess I
buried the memory of those children at N.S.V.H. that had no living skills
what so ever. Children who had never chewed solid food, and couldn't do
normal tasks, like the little person in the story. Lately, I've involved
myself with the N.F.B., which has brought me back to my peers. I have heard
horror stories about educated people being forced into demeaning jobs.
About children and adults not receiving proper schooling. It breaks my
heart to think of people, adults and children, who can't read Braille. I
get so much joy from it that it's all most incomprehensible to me to think
that a person can live their lives without being able to read. I urge, all
those people, who are able, whether it be reading Braille, or crossing a
street, or something as minor as using a telephone, or can opener, to seek
out those who can not and teach them. We must keep our community strong and
united. I feel sadness to think that there are so many different groups of
the blind rather then one huge community. for united we must stand.”

Patricia Svendsen (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

**12. “It is sad to see so many blind children are short changed. Despite the
person you know me as, I was in some ways one of those children who were
shortchanged. To begin, I went to the school for the blind in Iowa when I
was younger, and was not allowed to learn Braille. I wanted to learn, but
I was told that I have enough vision to use and wouldn't need that. Of
course, now I have learned Braille, but it was discouraging to not be able
to learn Braille. When I was at the school, I remember some of the kids
that were behind shall we say in learning. I do also remember that things
like hygiene were not as good as should be, and probably could come up with
others but I can't remember. Something else that I would like to mention
is, even though my mother did not know that I would be blind, she did the
best she could in raising me. I was in public school, and was
mainstreamed into regular classes with resource time to allow for
improvement in some areas such as reading comprehension. My mother worked
with me in phonetics and spelling, and read to me as much as she could.
She even worked with me to get ahead of the class in areas such as math. I
know this has really taken to the area of education, but I say these things
because I feel that is important that blind children get the most out of
their schooling as possible. If that means teaching them Braille, so be
it...etc. How else will they gain knowledge, grow stronger as a person,
and become successful in their life? I think it is important for children
to also know that they are capable of doing so many things. I have been
through a time in my life where I was told that I could not manage to do
anything successfully...not by my mother, but by my aunt whom I lived with
for a while. It is so frustrating to hear those words of, "you can't do
that, and you will never be able to do that." Some education to my aunt
would have been necessary here, but that never managed to happen. I had to
deal with that on my own and have of course overcome it, but I feel that if
it is necessary to educate parents/guardians about should be
done. Despite my troubles in life, I have the skills to succeed as a blind
person now and whish that there could be something done for those children
who may now be in similar situations. Let's be the best we can be, and
teach those around us those same values and goals!!”

Carla Kay Laesch (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: "Negative reinforcement sure is one of the worse experiences any of we humans can ever receive. It is especially damaging for a youngster who is growing and being shaped. How can we best educate the "educator, " the parents, the teachers in schools, the businessmen/women, the government, etc? I hear some say, "one at a time."

**13. "I am one of those guys who grew up with poor blindness skills and self concept. Its interesting to sit here and write about myself, hang it all out there for others to read; I'll not tell you my name. But, I had parents who really didn't like me, their one and only blind kid. They I think didn't have any experience with blindness before me, so I can't fault them there, but later it was offered. What happened is they wanted me to be able to see, to be "normal" and not let blindness limit me. I could see to read some large print, so they and the school made me a print reader and traveler. Well, they tried. Now for reading I use super large print that only I can make. Its real slow to read and if I was in a hurry to make it, it doesn't read well and I get lost (my own stuff). I've tried to go to school and work after high school and really haven't done well. I tried many different things like construction and factory work and really couldn't see well enough to do all what they asked. And of course, I would lie about my eyes until they fired me. Later I got myself into a profession that my counselor chose for me, one of those that many blind people do. Guess they thought I could do it and well I can, but I really don't like it and it really didn't make me a good living, ever (been doing it for 21 years). I'm still on SSDI and SSI. I'd try something new, but what?

I'm in my late fifties and don't feel I've got much time left to do anything.

Getting around, that is a problem too. I mostly walk or catch a ride. I don't like the bus, they don't treat you right. No, I don't use a cane much and yes I mostly go places I know. I know this limits me, but its me. I had a counselor try and get me to use a cane all the time and I told her to go to hell; not nice, but that’s how I feel.

They say you should reflect on yourself and so I am. I guess I could use some changing, just wish I had it younger so it would have been easier to take."

(Person from Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: "We need to hear these stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. I too am sitting here wondering about what it takes to be made into the "best we can be." "Best person" and I do not think it matters if you are a "sighted person" or "blind person" or "black person" or "white person" or yellow person" or "woman/man" or rich person" or "on and on."

Is it ever too old to get your act together?"

**14. FROM ME- Soon "THOUGHT PROVOKER" and various short stories (mine and others) on blindness will be available on a web site. I am in the process of learning and writing the coding for the site. I want it to work right before I put it out there. It'll be a couple of weeks off and I'll let you know.

This mailing list will still be available; I'll still send it out once a week for those who ask for it. But do know that all Provokers, current and past will be available on the web site. They will be there for reading and to be added to.

As for the short stories, I have several which are completed and am working on several more. I will have them available to read on this site. I will also be looking for other stories written about blind people and their life experiences. Precisely, what I am looking for are stories where the main and/or leading characters are blind or visually impaired and are interacting with their environment in a manner to educate the reader to the human potential of us all to live successfully with blindness.

Eventually I will want the site to have the capacity of offering sound bites of anyone who wants to submit a voice response to a Provoker. Having it in your own voice and language would be very interesting.

Blindness is a human experience, it effects us all. This forum is meant for all cultures. We need to know what it is to be blind for ourselves and for our neighbor. By exchanging this knowledge we can better change what needs to be changed, preserve what needs to be preserved."

**15. "I have been reading THOUGHT PROVOKER from its beginning. We have talked about restrictions the blind may encounter, why employment is difficult and how it effects various age groups and its effects upon relationships. I know we are just beginning. In many ways what we have covered thus far is related and what we will next cover is also related. All the more important to dig into each issue on its own merit and to see how they inter-connect. Education, is what I see at the core of all this, know matter where it is a person comes from. We know we are capable beings, that is not in question. Time, place and its accompanying expectations is more the culprit to the reasons why any human is further handicapped by vision loss, beyond the actual lack of visual input. It is through sources such as this forum where we can share what we know is possible. Opportunity is what we need. The "our little friend" and his parents in this story are needing information and encouragement. We can see that the staff is cued in to the bigger picture to what is possible. It is also evident the other children and their parents mentioned are also examples of what is possible in their time and place. What I'd really like to know is how would it be from country to country, the wider human expectations and experience for this time? Plus how do we get to all of them and educate them? Get to that and you can change many aspects of world conditions. And I am saying it can be done."

(Person from Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: "I many times will tell people, that yes we have come along way, we humans. But there is more to come. Look around, we still have fighting that is more than defense, hunger, ignorance, preventable sickness, disabled persons not contributing, etc. Its something we need to not merely accept, but must work to change and change is something we all know. Provokers to this point are a good beginning. Let us see what happens when the web site is up. Every small part helps to build the larger. Look around within your own mind and neighborhood and see what there is you can do to assist in bringing about a positive change."

**16. "One unidentified emailer (#6) wrote: "Protecting a child is as natural to the parents as is exploring and growing for the child."
     Yes, being curious for a child -- _every_ child -- is natural.
     Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for parents being protective... that is learned. Parents learned from their parents
about being protective... those parents learned from _their_
parents... and so on, back up the ancestral line to who knows when.
     Growing up as a sighted child, I had nowhere near the number and
types of experiences I have had as a blind adult, on my own.
     to put it into an electronic nutshell... a few months after I had
finished going blind, my kidneys stopped functioning (all a result of long-term diabetes), and I was given
twelve to eighteen months to live... in 1985.
     That whole experience triggered an intense desire to heal my life
and my body. I went searching, and eventually met a man, who has now been mentoring me for more than ten years. As a result of working with my mentor, I have been transforming my beliefs and attitudes so that my horizons -- in _all_ aspects of my life --
have been gradually and steadily expanding.
     My mother endlessly blames herself for "giving" me diabetes (there
are a lot of diabetics on her side of the family). She does not --and cannot -- understand that this whole _experience_ has been a great gift to me. I had never _dreamed_ as a child that I would ever go horseback riding, or scuba diving, or doing clay sculpting,
or motivational speaking... all of which I have been doing, just in the past _year_. And _enjoying_ it all! All of this because I became motivated to improve and change my life.
     There's an excellent book, "THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT : ALLOWING HUMAN
NATURE TO WORK SUCCESSFULLY" by Jean Liedloff (available fron Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, shelf number DB102, go to their website at
      -- they have an online catalog as well). Liedloff's book tells of
her extraordinary journeys into a South American native village, where parents trust their children, indeed, where both the children _and_ parents are "natural". a Fascinating comparison with the North American culture I grew up in -- I cried listening to the tapes.
     You know when it's too late to stop learning?"

David R. Sky (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

(+1) (604) 687-6898

**17. I have just read a few of the responses to the thought provoker about
raising blind children. We are in a unique position. Last year we
adopted a little girl who is blind. She is 13 years younger than the son we
adopted 5 years ago. People are either appalled or "full of wonder" that
we would purposely adopt a blind child. Once they get to know her they
are amazed at her "normalness". Having two children basically the same
age helps us to guide her to being age appropriate in her actions and
activities. Knowing no other blind children, we have muddled our way
along, with help from the folk at NFB, and now with the help of a
WONDERFUL pre-K teacher who believes in independence.

We still struggle with most people wanting to shelter and protect our
daughter, even to the point of trying to carry her everywhere. We try to
take the time to show them that she can do for herself and should be
allowed to do so. These same people don't hesitate to tell us we are
too hard on her for expecting her to do the things "normal" 4 and 5 year
olds do.

It gets very frustrating trying to fight for her independence and
teaching her to stand up for herself. I know we have a long way to go
yet! We appreciate any advice and encouragement from those who have been
there. We want her to grow up to be independent and have her own home
and family someday. If we don't teach her, who will??

Debby (Miami, Florida USA)
**18. "Thought Provoker 6 is very interesting on many levels. On one hand, I see
that the night staffer's speech is full of judgments. Based on a kid's
appearance and one brief encounter with him in a dressing room, assumptions
are made all over the place about him, his parents and his
development. Personally, I would hate to be this eight-year-old standing and
listening to these judgments. In the blind world, nothing is cut-and-dry
and there are a million reasons why this particular kid cannot dress
himself or brush his teeth.

On the other hand, though, I hate to see anecdotes like this one because
they are too realistic. Too many blind children are "behind" in some area
or another, and too many blind children are being subjected to other
people's criticisms and their own self-doubt. I hope to see stories like
this one less frequently as parents figure out how to give their children
independence and self-reliance.
Have an absolutely wonderful day!”

Arielle (NABS

**19. "I have seen people at camps I attended who have these problems. The sad
thing is they were teenagers and still didn't know how to take care of
themselves. It kind of annoys me because we are the same as everybody else,
so parents should teach these children to take care of themselves because
nobody is going to do it for them when they get older.”

Lisa (NABS)