THOUGHT PROVOKER 39
What is Wrong With This Picture?
Last Updated January 10, 2003
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
I was meeting with a new client. He had recently graduated from high school and was hoping to start college in the fall. I had received information from his former counselor and Vision Teacher that he night not be ready for such a new, large undertaking. Today’s visit was to explain our services to him and his parents and to start the development of a rapport between the two of us. I also wanted to get a handle
on the kind of support his family gave to him.
“There we go.” his father said. He had come up to the table where Jack and I were still sitting and talking. We were having cake and coffee before heading out. The parents had sat with us for some time during our initial discussion and we were just about to head out on an excursion to a local mall for Jack to show me his travel skills. “I wanted to get those crumbs before they got off on to the floor.” Finished, his father walked off to the kitchen.
“.Mom!” Jack called out. “I’ll need my wind breaker.
“Oh honey.” Her voice came muffled from the interior of the hall closet. “It isn’t warm enough. It's cold out there.”
“Put the lining in.” Jack answered.
“Where is it?”
“If it's not there, it's probably in my room.”
“If it's in your room.” Butted in his father. “It's probably lost. It's such a mess in there.”
“I’ll go look.” His mother said, voice trailing off as she moved further into the interior of the house.
“While she’s doing that…” Spoke up his father, moving off to yet another section of the house. “I’ll get you my cell phone. Call if you need a ride back.”
I sat there, taking in all of this interplay, speculating on just how much of this type of interaction went on, thinking of what I had previously learned concerning this individual and I thought, “What was wrong with this picture?
**1. “Well, anyway, The picture you descriptively painted of a client that was
apparently not sufficiently independent to find his/her own coat is indeed troubling.
Of course, you know much more of the matter than the rest of us could possibly know. But I have to wonder if something other than total indulgence was at play here in this scene.
From my own personal experiences (dating more than 30 years ago) I
discovered my parents to be inexplicably helpful whenever the Voc Rehab counselor came
around. My father, who was away from home most of the time because he was an engineer on Great Lakes iron ore freighters, was usually a very
hard-nosed, severe individual that did not take any guff from anybody. Until the Voc Rehab counselor came around. Then he was somehow transformed into this very accommodating individual. My mother
always seemed so intently interested in my educational plans at these times, when in fact at other times she
bluntly told me it was up to me to figure what I wanted to do.
Now, mind you, I am not criticizing my parents. They expected more from me than most
folks from that place and time would have. And today I am a software engineer at Lucent Technologies, and comfortably successful in that endeavor.
But I have to wonder if the scene you described was in fact just that - a scene.
Just thought I'd pass the thought along. Thanks,”
Bill Gallik (Wheaton, Illinois USA email@example.com)
FROM ME: “Well, what do you all think? What would be going on within the parents as described by Mr. Gallik? What would help them?”
**2. “I'm sure several responses will follow the latest Thought Provoker,
attesting to the need for early development of independence skills in blind
children and youth and the ever-present need to think about future adult
functioning when we nurture, counsel, and educate our youngsters. Bravo!
What's wrong with the picture presented in the Thought Provoker? Something
insidious and, unless we deal with it, we'll be in worse shape as our
present group of youngsters attempt to enter the world of higher education and employment than we were 20 years ago!
The problem is just now receiving attention. The over-dependency caused by
the very laws designed to promote independence threatens to stifle our youth and may already be stifling the creative processes of our educators. What else is wrong with this picture? The fact that not enough
professionals are complaining about it!
Lost in the shuffle is the critical balance that must be maintained between providing necessary support services to blind children and youth and the promotion of independence. IDEA and other laws - and more important, the way school districts and colleges have reacted to them - appear to have confused the issues. In short, while we provide Braille versions of textbooks and enlarged renditions of exams; while we provide safe havens in the form of resource rooms; while we arrange for additional time on tests;
and while parents, wrestling with the emotional and practical aspects of raising a blind child, overdo for them, we need to infuse our thinking and actions with healthy doses of do-it-yourself talk to our charges. Most important, we need to take a lesson from scouting and other programs that
emphasize the basics: Work skillfully with the environment; no-tech. And low-tech. are often more available than high-tech.; high-tech. is good and you should get it and always strive toward advancement; and if at first you don't succeed, try again using alternative techniques. There are always
Anthony R. Candela
(AERnet, National Program Associate, AFB West., San Francisco)
FROM ME: “Well, what are some of our vision programs products like now days? How are these students faring once they are out of high school and the vision program? How are they doing in the next school, the next level up, college? Granted, some are doing well and some may not be. Of those who are doing well, attitude and skills, what made them this good student? Or if the student isn’t doing well, keeping up and all that, what brought this about? What is the trend here in real life?”
**3. “I love your response. We do forget to work on independence. We do rely too much on
high tech. Great response to the "thought Provoker!"
sue Barrett (AERnet)
FROM ME: “This response had response #2 pasted in. So What are other Vision Teachers feeling? What about you parents? What about the college instructors? What about the professionals in rehab who get the student next? What do you students feel?”
**4. “Hmm, well, just from my first reading, it seems as Jack has plenty of simple
things done for him. I wonder how independent he really is. I myself am
getting ready to go to college in the fall and am trying to enhance my independence all the more. I'll be curious as to what others have to say.”
Stacy (Wisconsin USA)
**5. “I am familiar with this scenario. As a vision teacher, many of the children I
work with are quite disorganized and frequently the teacher will complain of the child's desk and how messy and impossible it is. It seems that no matter where the environment is....whether at home or school....there is a lack of organization. I have often suggested to the education teams that we really
stress "organization skills" for the children, early in life. But, it is not
only the blind or vi kids, there are plenty of other students in the class who seem incapable of arranging their work in an orderly fashion. Then, if we turn and look at the home scene, we see a similar happening. Some of the parents are quite frustrated with their child's messy room, yet they do
nothing to help the child arrange their clothing/toys etc... It would seem that we need to make home visits earlier in the life of these kids, to offer some suggestions to the families. If the parent(s) also keep bringing the lost item to the child or young adult (in the case of your story), then that
son or daughter will never learn to look for things on their own. The only way to correct this problem is to make the individual accountable for lost things and have them search out the house themselves. While I know that this can be a tedious process, the individual will learn , "by doing" and
retracing their steps, how to relocate many items and at long last, and learn to organize. I suggest that during the first phase of the "search", that one of the parents or sibling come along and offer some directions as to where things might be. This will take some patience, but will be worth it!
The family can help by constructing appropriate cubby units, clips in drawers or hooks located on walls etc. to help in this process. There are even businesses around that specialize in how to organize your closet! I have seen these around the Boston area! Look into it!”
Jane Kronheim (Harrisville, New Hampshire USA)
FROM ME: “Two things- Yes, other kids might also be unorganized, there might even be similar causes, but do you think it might have a larger set of consequences for the blind kid, verses the sighted one?
Second, What strategies might we suggest to assist the parents during these early years of their blind kid and their efforts to raise him or her? Having the home visit mentioned by this Vision Teacher was one, what else?”
**6. “What is wrong is that this young adult has been coddled all his life by his parents. He has not been given the opportunity to learn to do things on his own, he has been given no concept of the real world. How will he survive when mommy and daddy are not there to do everything for him?
He/She has not been taught to have confidence in his/her own ability, to be self reliant.”
Barb Adair (Blind-X)
**7. “This story reminds me somewhat of my family interactions until I went to college. It seems to me the parents are doing things for the client that he should do for himself. The parents do not expect the student to clean up his room and do chores other teenagers have to do when they are sighted. It seems to me this student needs to go to a facility that will teach independence before the student goes to college. I really feel the student will not get to do things alone as long as he lives with his parents. I feel this way because my parents did things for me that I was perfectly capable of doing myself.”
Angela Farmer, Dothan, Alabama, USA.
**8. “I will not tell who this is… But, I know my parents ruined my older brother. He isn’t working, because he can’t hold a job. He usually tells me that it wasn’t his fault he lost the job, but that some one else had the problem.
My brother was born blind. He was the only one of us who is. I think he was always smart, but a little lazy too. My sister, she is in between me and my brother and she say’s he is not just lazy, but twisted by having low expectations placed on him and praised when he really didn’t deserve it. I have tried to talk to him about sticking to things when they get hard, but he doesn’t have the patience. He is one of these guys that talks loud about independence, fighting for your rights and all that, but like I’ve seen others write in this list, he can talk the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. What could I do to help him now?”
**9. “I believe the scenario you raise illustrates an all too common problem among people with disabilities and blind and visually impaired people in particular, the assumption that parents or other family members
will support them indefinitely. As a person who is severely visually impaired with an M.S.W. having gone through the school system in the age of the IEP, I find this a trap that is still tempting for me, despite four
years away from home completing an undergraduate program and several years of work experience. Is it realistic to think this student will be successful in a post-secondary environment if his parents are managing his basic needs, such as getting his coat, when the college experience is potentially so fraught with obstacles and discrimination?
Even in a school that claimed to have a high level of support for people with disabilities, I still had to contend with very limited transportation off campus, conduct endless searches for qualified readers and scribes, and beg talking book providers in Toronto and other international locations to
send me the textbooks I needed, because no one in the United States (RfB&D or the University) had what I needed. All increasing the temptation for me to go home and live with Mom and Dad for a while.”
Christopher R. Sabine, SMW
**10. “Are you trying to bring home the point that the blind child is not held
responsible for his actions of having a messy room and miss placing part of his clothing? If so, that is indeed a standard that should be addressed and my compliments to you for bringing it up. I have always been organized and very careful as to where I put things, but at times I do admit I am forgetful; but good habits should be expected of blind children as they are and should be with the sighted.”
Renee Michele Zelickson (Huntsville, Alabama USA
**11. “I was eight years old when I under went surgery to save the vision I was gradually losing to glaucoma. When the bandages were removed, my parents and I were shocked to learn that I was now totally blind. My physician sat my young mother down and explained that she had two choices in dealing with my blindness. She could hover and protect me and expect to keep me with her
always, or she could raise me as if there was no difference between me and my two sighted brothers. She chose the latter path and I acknowledge that my college education, marriage and rearing of my own sighted children and so much more are due to her decision. It wasn't until I was an independent
adult that she admitted to me the number of times she watched me through the kitchen window as I raced across the yard, holding her breath as I missed colliding with the pecan tree, or tripping over a hose. Or that the reason she chose to fold laundry or do the ironing with her back to me as I
chattered at stove or cutting board preparing dinner on my night to cook, because she didn't want to watch me with a knife or hot gas burner. A senior in high school who isn't fetching his own jacket, gathering up the dishes and at least taking them into the kitchen isn't ready to leave home
and take care of himself. He'll need to consider a transition period to get
the basics down before starting out to school where so much will be expected of him. Parenting of a visually impaired child takes courage and patience. My mother took the extra time to teach me how to do for myself and to carry my share around our home for the benefit of all. When she injured herself and had to be in traction for a month when I was sixteen, I prepared meals, did laundry including ironing two white shirts for my salesman father per day and ran the household until she recovered. My college age uncle, and
younger brothers helped, but as the oldest and a girl, the lion's portion fell on me. So, when I left for college, I often found I knew more about cleaning, cooking and stretching food dollars than my sighted roommates!”
DeAnna Noriega (Colorado Springs Colorado USA)
**12. “Bravo to the counselor who looks not only at the teen but at the family. Wonder what the former counselor told you about the family dynamics? Is what you saw typical of them over the long term? And how did this young man function at school, where he was away from Mom and Dad? It looks like you (the counselor) can make some major contributions here. If the teen could function at school - manage his own belongings, organize his classwork and get it done, get to class on time and the myriad other things a highschooler has to do - then why not practice these same skills at home?
No matter what challenges a student has, high schools don't baby them - they want Mom and Dad to step back and let their child self-manage. So if this kid has the grades to graduate from high school and get admitted to college, he can self-manage when he needs to.
Why hasn't he handled self-transport? Good question. My teenage son would die a thousand deaths before letting a parent drive him anywhere his friends could see it happen. We all know this kid has options - feet, bus or Access bus, as well as friends. Maybe he prefers dependency on Mom and Dad, or the family pattern enforces it. Wonder why...
I'm assuming the counselor is also visually impaired, since otherwise transportation would be a done deal. Of course, a visually impaired counselor would have transportation solved, too. Are Mom and Dad too protective?
I'm afraid even sighted teenage boys often have messy rooms. If this is an issue for Dad, better he talk to his son about it in private - it would be far more respectful of his son's dignity. Same with crumbs on the floor. Mentioning that is disrespectful of the dignity of both son and counselor. We the visually impaired know this is just part of our world- you can't "keep tidy" crumbs you don't see.
Why isn't the son getting his own jacket? Could he be playing into the dependent role fostered by being 1. their child and 2. visually impaired? He's also old enough to gauge the temperature outside and dress accordingly. Lots of room to explore here.
After reading your PROVOKER, I'm imagining the walk the counselor will have with the son. Sending him to college now might be throwing him into the deep end (what was that line about tough love?) but it also might be a wonderful thing for him. He must have the academic skills and self-management skills to get around at school and study. With some good orientation to a truly accessible campus, plus some good no-nonsense roommates who won't tolerate mess, who knows what might happen?
For one thing, this young man might find out who he is and what he can accomplish with appropriate backup.”
Karen (Dana Point, California USA)
**13. “I see at least two problems here: the mother and the father. I see an over protective mother who is afraid to let her son really strive to do his best for fear he will be hurt. She is used to waiting on him, to pick up after him and to get him what he needs!
I see a father who is not willing to accept his son's blindness and who does not offer the support the son needs! Two factions working against each other!
Then there is the son who is willing for his mother to wait on him and has never really learned to care for himself completely! He still needs someone to help him find his things which from the sound of it he just lays down wherever he takes them off!
I would like to see some more help for all three of them! The mother has to learn to let the son work things out for himself and to find what he throws down. Maybe the father could be encouraged to offer more constructive support also! If the young man is ever to be independent he has to learn to
remember where his clothes and belongings are!”
Ernie Jones (Walla Walla, Washington USA firstname.lastname@example.org)
**14. “Since Jack has just graduated high school, let's assume that he's about 18 years old. Long before that age, he should be able to wipe crumbs from the table and get his own jacket. My parents were often over protective of me, but I was expected to do some household chores.
In my opinion, Jack's parents aren't doing him a service by doing all these things for him. There'll come a time where they won't be around to help. I can certainly understand their desire to help their son, but they
need to consider what's really best for him.
It's a big transition from high school to college. Different demands are made on you and you are expected to do more work on your own. Hopefully if Jack does go to college, he will be able to make the transition and deal with the demands made on him. I think his parents need to expect more from
him and not be right there for every little thing.”
Janet Ingber (Queens, New York USA)
**15. “I am hoping you made this story up. I would feel so sorry for anyone whose
parents made him so totally dependent on them. He probably wouldn't know how to wipe himself without their help!”
Carolyn Gold (Clearwater, Florida USA
**16. When I read the Thought Provoker, it struck a cord within me. I was born visually impaired, and if my family had ever been like Jack's family, it was only for a very brief period of time when I was very young, probably 1 to 2 years old. While growing up, I was mainstreamed into the regular education in my hometown with the support of our local Vision Teacher. She was great teaching me independent living skills, which it seems as if Jack had little or no training in this area. She also took me out into the community on a regular basis (once a week or so when I reached third or forth grade.) These times, "Community Excursions" as she called them, really helped me to gain a feel for what living in the sighted world was like.
The parents in the story reminded me of parents of a friend of mine that I have seen. Even though I do not know my friend's parents all that well, it seems as if this is how they treat him. When I saw my friend last (he was 18 at the time) he was unable to cut his own food, and this seems as if it might be a likely possibility with Jack. From discussing the situation with others and my own observations, it seems as if both Jack and my friend lived in a "sheltered” life. I, on the other hand, was exposed to the sighted world on a regular basis, which helped in preparing me for college. I'm a sophomore at a liberal arts
college in Moorhead, MN, and without the continued training and exposure to the sighted world, I don't think I would be where I am now. My mother is very supportive, but my father said when my visual impairment was first discovered (at 3 months of age) "Let's throw her in an asylum and forget about her." At times, I wonder if he still wishes that this action had been done seeing his reaction to me and our brief conversations (he lives in Australia.)
I believe that he thinks I am the "blind girl" who is not capable of doing anything for herself. Maybe this is how Jack is perceived at home and/or school.
I guess I worry for Jack's future as a successful and contributing member of society. With the statistics out there (71% of the blind are unemployed) I wonder how Jack will survive on his own when his parents are no longer alive to support him. My goal in life is to get a good job and be able to support myself so when Mom is not alive, I will not be dependent on the Federal Government to support me with monthly SSI payments.
I think this is all I can contribute to the discussion at this point.
Have a great day!”
Alexis Read (Moorhead, Minnesota
**17. “I can't help feeling that the parents seem a little rude, constantly
interrupting the way they do. It sounds very much like the exchange between a small child and parents who don't have much respect for the child. Nor do they seem to have much knowledge about how to teach him independence and self respect.
The student seems way to comfortable with being treated like such a baby. I would think they all need to be counseled about how to treat a young man who has finished high school and needs to learn to make his way in the world.
And the student desperately needs some help in learning to grow up and manage for himself.”
**18. “I think the parents are treating this young man as if he were a little kid. I get the feeling that they expect very little from him. Over protective parents can be destructive and can impede their son's efforts to become an independent, self sufficient person. Someone needs to have a long talk with
those parents and someone needs to teach this young man that he is not a child and that he should not expect his parents to take care of him. He needs to go to a rehabilitation center far away from parents where he can learn to be self reliant and where he can be encouraged to stop being a
little kid and take responsibility for his own things. If I had told one of my parents to go get something for me I'd have been told to get it myself.”
Joyce Porter (Houston, Texas USA)
**19. “Sounds to me like this young man has his parents "well trained" provide for his every wish. (I know quite a few sighted kids just like this as well....) That young man should be cleaning up for himself, finding his own jacket, making his own arrangements to return home, etc. Do his
parents plan to live with him and care for him the rest of his life?
Going away to college would be a big shocker to him, but could also be the best thing that happened to him. My kids sometimes think I'm mean, but they are learning to do for themselves, sighted or blind. Our job as parents is to teach our kids to be independent, productive adults.”
Debby (mom to Winona, almost 5 with ROP
and 2 sighted boys (10 and just 5))
**20. “My thoughts in-between your PROVOKER:
"There we go." his father said. He had come up to the table where Jack and
I were still sitting, talking, having cake and coffee before heading out.
The parents had sat with us for some time during our initial discussion and
we were just about to head out on an excursion to a local maul for Jack to
show me his travel skills. "I wanted to get those crumbs before they got
off on to the floor." Finished, his father walked off into the kitchen.
Gene: Well, I have to tell you that in listening to this right off I pick
up that this family. Loving as it may be. Is very over protective of their
son!! Jumping at every move by Dad.....
"Mom!" Jack called out. "I'll need my wind breaker."
"Oh honey." Her voice came muffled from the interior of the hall closet.
"It isn't warm enough. Its cold out there."
"Put the lining in." Jack answered.
"Where is it?"
"If its not there, its probably in my room."
"If its in your room." Butted in his father. "Its probably lost. Its such
a mess in there."
"I'll go look." His mother said, voice trailing off as she moved further
into the interior of the house.
"While she's doing that."
Gene: What is this, the son can not get his own jacket? He has no idea
where things are? A messy room and not knowing where things are in the
room? He wants to go to college? I would say, I don't think so. Yet, that
is just me.
Spoke up his father, moving off to yet another
section of the house. "I'll get you my cell phone. Call if you need a ride
Gene: There is such a protective umbrella around this young man. Just what
is he going to do when he gets to the college campus on his own and live on
his own, get to his meals, getting his home work and many other things in
college life? This young man in my humble opinion needs a year of living on
his own!! To learn some needed skills. Learn to trust in his own
instincts and having order in his life so he can function on his own. Right
now, Mom and Dad take care of him and most of his needs!! Maybe it is
because I am so independent. That this bothers me.... I will listen to the
rest of the group in their inputs!
Should be interesting..... To which if anyone wants to shovel some snow or
run a snow blower..... Really easy, once learned. We are in the middle
of another snow storm..... We have received already in the city of Portland,
Maine 3.5 feet of snow and getting interesting for shoveling snow blowing
Gene Stone (Portland, Maine by Casco Bay
**21. “I'm not of a religious persuasion myself, but isn't there something in
the major works of most religions (the bible certainly), about reaping
what you sow?”
Alex Stone (London England)
FROM ME: “Thinking in a totally non-religious vane of thought, aren’t there many other sayings in our culture and around the world that speaks to the same conclusion? Like- “You get what you put into it.” Or, “We are products of our environment.” Or, “Garbage in, garbage out.” What others are out there and how do these sayings or beliefs apply themselves to our topic?”
**22. “Yes, there is much wrong with this picture. It is a very sad picture. I
can understand Jack's parents' wanting to protect their son - some parents feel guilty when their children have some handicap. However, they need to be assisted to help Jack developing his skills and worth. Jack needs to become confident and he can only do so when his parents learn not to smother
him with protection as they are doing at present.”
Janie Fourie (Pretoria, South Africa
FROM ME: “Guilt as an underlying reason why parents may engage in this behavior. Yes, I’ve seen this. How about you? What other reactions might motivate parents to behave in this manner?”
**23. “This is outrageous!!! They aren't raising a son, they are training him to be king. No one else has servants waiting on every request. The worst aspect is that changing will be much harder now since habits are set. This is the type of person that promotes the stereotypes of helplessness. Of course, I
was raised with twelve other kids in the house. If I had even thought of asking Mom to hunt anything down, she would have fainted laughing. My last observation is why a professional did not point out some of these things long ago. They should have at least explained the consequences of their behavior.”
Marcia Beare, M.S.W.
(Martin, Michigan, USA
**24. “Whoa, this is a good one for me, a sighted person, to relate to. That is exactly how I would be if my son were blind. That's how I am now, and no one in my family is physically challenged! I suppose if I had a child who was born blind, I might be less codependent by the time he was grown and out in
the world (although the cell phone would be a must and why not in this day and age). If my son were blinded later in life, though, I would of course be at his beck and call because I would figure "why send him traveling up steps that he can't see into a messy room where he might trip over something when I
can easily take the stairs two at a time and visually hone in on the jacket lining?" If I had a blind person waiting to take my son for a lesson, I would feel very bad about wasting the instructor's time while my son is upstairs groping around for however long it takes to find a certain piece of
clothing in a messy room, in a dark messy room. I know that this may sound ridiculous to those of you who are very adept at finding things with your fingers or so organized as to not need assistance, but as I said, I feel a maternal need to help my family, and it's hard to let go to allow the child to grow on his own, especially if it were a child with special needs. There's nothing a mother wouldn't do for her kids, and sometimes that is a hindrance more than a help, I know. I'm sure the moral of your story is that
the sighted parents are doing their child a disservice by not allowing him to learn to do for himself. Ask any parent of a mature child who is living at home, disabled or not, and you will find that all kids will try to get away with doing as little as possible to assist himself or others and will
continue to take advantage as long as they can, and moms like me say to themselves that it's only for a little while longer before we can legally kick these kids out on their own. They usually learn quickly at that point and we mothers sit back and smile. For a minute.”
kar (Naples Florida USA)
FROM ME: “The honest words of a Mother. Anyone else out there have a similar view? I respect this honesty, though I ask (and I believe this lady will allow me to ask this of others) do you see where she knows she may not be doing the right thing, but love and caring is so strong she can’t help herself and believes it will turn out okay? So if we wished to do this a little different, how can sweet love be blended with tough love?”
**25. “<< "What was wrong with this
“Well, at a guess, the client was an adult, and they were treating him like a four year old.”
Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)
**26. “There could be more than one way to view these events as you describe them. The
first could be this was a loving family who enjoyed doing things for each other. A little grumbling happens in any family for many reasons, even if it's as easy as just having a bad day. I suppose what I'm suppose to read into all this is that the parents expect little from the boy and treat him as if he
couldn't handle his own doings. Well, as we say in computers, garbage in, garbage out. My father use to say it this way when I was a boy. "You have to learn how to do things in the sighted world, son. It's a sad fact that for you, they will always think your different, can't do anything for yourself and much
more. You will have to work harder then most folks at what ever you do so give it your best shot and never let them tell you can't. Try and find another way.
There's always one. Don't forget that because as I say, the rest of the world can see and everything will be based on that. It's not up to them to change the world for you, it's up to you to change things for yourself." Like all the rest of us, I've had to find work for myself, which I did. I retired from
professional music in 1981. There was never some agency telling me what I could or couldn't do. I got up and went out and did it. I have a lovely wife and two wonderful children. Raising fully sighted children can be a hand full at times but they teach me as much as I teach them. I sometimes forget to take time to
just play. My ten year old keeps reminding me of it when he asks me to come play Legos with him in his room or come play race cars. There are times when I don't feel like it but do anyway because my son will all to soon be an adult and that would be a chance that won't come again. As I said I would like to think
it would be the first case. Neither you or I can pre guess what's the truth here. Only time will tell.. As far as keeping the boy back another year. I wouldn't do that to anybody. If you expect nothing of this lad he'll never give anything or as they also say, if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll
keep getting what you've always gotten.”
Alan Paganelli (Blindfam)
**27. “Sounds like every teenager I know. Also sounds like the Transition people
might have dropped the ball a bit on organization skills training during the transition years of his program.
Obviously the prospective student in this Thought Provoker will require some habilitation training. I do not; however, think that this is an insurmountable task. Going to college requires a unique set of skills that
can be learned. Fortunately for most college students starting their first year of college, cleaning your room and relying on Mom and Dad for everything is not too rare. The primary skills needed are the ability to
organize your work station, get to class, take notes and develop a strategy for converting those notes into an accessible format so they can be studied for tests. Additionally, the ability to set an alarm clock, get bathed, dressed and fed help. Finally, getting to class is of paramount importance.
I would not disqualify this individual for college simply because he is exactly like every other teenager in the world. Unfortunately, I think some times we put higher expectations on blind and visually impaired youngsters and expect them to be totally ready before they transition into their next
phase of training.
My advice would be to focus on those skills necessary to be successful in school and possibly recommend a local community college to get started. With the safety net of home, along with the responsibility of college, this set-up might help avoid a disastrous first semester. But if it doesn't,
and the kid fails, it may be a necessary wake-up call. Let's keep in mind that we, as professionals, are supposed to provide information, training and choices. It is not our responsibility to insure
that every consumer makes the right choice. We only provide information and the resources to succeed. If the individual does not acquire those skills and fails, we attempt to identify the issues related to the failure and remedial those issues. If I could go to college for every student on my
caseload, I guarantee that they would be well organized and have a method for success. Unfortunately, I cannot. I can only provide information and offer skills training. The rest is up to them.”
David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)
FROM ME: “Balance these two, are they equal in weight? 1. Access to information, skills training, equipment, opportunity for learning and confidence building and informed choice. 2. The right to fail.”
**28. “Enabling adults are his biggest stumbling block. Doing things for him that he should have been doing when he was in elementary school. This kid has a big
hurdle ahead of him. Getting his parents to let go and to encourage him in the areas of independence. He should have been serving the cake, wiping the crumbs up, getting his liner and zipping it in his windbreaker. Things that are taught at an appropriate age level become second nature as adults. I bet some reality checks happen when he gets to the mall.”
Suzanne Lange (Chico, California USA)
FROM ME: “As this lady says, ‘Things that are taught at an appropriate age level become second nature as adults.’ So what do you think? Using ability and behavior norms for the sighted as a measuring stick for the blind?”
**29. “I believe that a co-dependency relationship exist and that family counseling is desperately needed in this situation. I am a counselor/teacher for the blind and have worked with many blind people that
have been in similar situations. I feel that rehabilitation professionals should do everything possible to help the blind person realize the level of dependency and work with the family to reduce it. My real concern here is for the blind person. What happens when the parents have died and the person can not take care of him/her self. I have worked with many blind adults who were raised by parents who over protect and shelter. The result is not being able to make a bowl of cereal. More parent education is
needed as well as adjustment counseling needs to be provided to clients in these situations.”
Greg Mason (Sacramento, California USA)
**30. “How very sad that this is a real story and the student didn't get through year one. But it is not unexpected. Perhaps you might tack a note onto the Thought Provoker as a message and warning to parents with kids who have RP. We parents do tend to want to protect our kids, but this is absurd. One day they will be gone, and she will be up a very stinky creek with no paddle. Or worse, she may need to take care of them one day, and she won't know where to begin!”
Carolyn Gold (Clearwater, Florida USA
**31. “What is wrong is the obvious. the parents are too over protective, and that seems more and more common. It's a hard thing for parents to let their kids grow up sometimes, but when there's a blind child, this makes it way more difficult for parents.
There comes a time when blind "children" need to pull away and demand their independence from their parents, and this isn't easy, and it has to come from the blind individual themselves, because if they don't push for it, they'll never get it.
With the age of this individual and the parents demonstration of babying him, this may be too late. In order to have independence, you have to have some skills, and it sounds like this person could be lacking them.
We probably all had this, to a certain degree. You have to strike out on your own. Go against your parents wishes. Isn't this what most teenagers do at some point? One sure way to kill ambition is to keep the blind adult a child. When the parents die, some other family member will take care of him. Get that teenager into some residential vocational and independent training. I've seen it a lot. thank god my parents were not like that. Believe me, it wasn't easy for them to let go either, and to this day, I have to reassure my mom that I'll be okay when travelling, or whatever it is that most people do. Begrudgingly or not, they let go and I do what I need to do.”
Tom Rash (Yucaipa, California USA)
**32. “I think this is typical of sighted as well as visually impaired homes - I have heard much worse. It would be nice if parents
would be able to strike that perfect balance of helping yet not enabling but it is tough even with children without physical issues. There has to be communication between parents, students and service providers to get that balance.”
Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA)
FROM ME: “As has been said and hinted at in several of our responses, a team effort needs to happen. Who all should be on the team?”
**33. “Well this is a classic case of "I am blind and cannot do anything for myself, so I'll just let everyone do it for me" As you see the parents are doing all they can for him trying to help their son but he is really not learning a thing. Just look at his room which is a mess...he is certainly not learning organizational skills from his parents.
Even though they are the most caring parents in the world they are not doing good for their son. He should know where everything of his is and he should go find it. I see so many of these kids around and it drives me nuts. How will they ever get ready for the big world out there.
I know that we are all guilty sometimes of taking it all in, but we as individuals have to take a look back and ask ourselves if too much of this is going on or not. If we seem to be taking it all in too much, then it is our duty to kick ourselves in the rear end and start doing things for ourselves.”
Mike Cormier RPlist (Moncton, NB Canada)
**34. “Unfortunately, I believe this kid is in the same place as far to many blind students in his position. They believe they're ready to go on to college and become "independent", but they haven't mastered the simplest, everyday tasks. They haven't learned to take responsibility for themselves. Since it's easier, they allow Mom and Dad to do everything for them. Maybe they know that they should be cleaning off the table themselves, and finding their own clothes. But, Mom and Dad have always done it, and it's easier than standing up to your parents. So, they may believe that they'll take care of these things when they're out on their own. The only problem is that they won't. Since they've never done it, they're not in the habit of taking responsibility for themselves. So, when they are out on their own, they'll either fail miserably, or will have an extremely difficult time
struggling to compete while learning to take responsibility for their personal life. So, Mom and Dad really aren't helping at all here.”
Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA
**35. “It sounds like the young man is used to being served regularly: When you consider what the parents said, as far as his readiness for college. Also, his being waited on from his mom and dad. When a blind person has never learned to take care of himself he/she is in big trouble! I truly hope, for his sake, that he would recognize his weakness in letting his parents serve him so faithfully and perhaps make a decision to break from the family and go it alone! It's certain that if he does not take the bull by the horn, he's going to be in some mess as his parents will not always be alive to help him when he is perhaps, 50-60 years old or so.”
Ken Buxtons (Toronto, Ontario Canada)
**36. “The thing that's wrong with this picture is that this kid has _never_ been told that he has to accept personal responsibility and he hasn't been
punished for failing to do so. The real world isn't going to tolerate this kind of self-centered dependence, nor should it. The sad fact is
that at his age, it's almost certainly too late for him to change and unless he's separated totally from any and all parental influence; as well as from anyone else who's willing to cater to him as they have; there's absolutely no chance that he will. People like him have already developed excellent manipulator skills so he needs to be placed into an environment sort of like a boot camp where nobody is going to allow themselves to be jerked around by his helpless behavior and he'll be forced to sink or swim.”
Walt Smith (Blind-x, Raleigh, North Carolina USA)
**37. “I was very lucky to have had parents who went out of their way to treat me as much like my brothers as they possibly could, trying to find ways for me to do everything that my brothers did. As a consequence I have been quite independent and, in fact, perhaps overly so at times, needing to prove to myself that there was nothing! I could not do and that I needed little if any help to do it. With age, I have become more aware that the rest of the world does not view blind people this way, but I am still grateful to my parents for their faith and confidence in me and for making sure that, as far as at all possible, I missed nothing as a child.”
Jeanne Smith (Amesbury, Massachusetts USA)
**38. “Well, the alarm bells are going off in my head after I read this passage. The most glaring fact that I could see that supported the client's lack of preparedness for college was his disorganized room. His parents seemed to be willing to cater to him as well - wiping crumbs off the table from their cake, mom getting his windbreaker, dad giving his son the cell phone, etc.
When you go off to college, you should have a reasonable sense of confidence and ability to function independently. Organization is vital to keeping track of everything that goes on at school - meals, homework assignments, class projects, social life, jobs, family, etc. There's allot to keep track of and mom and dad won't be there to help you sort it all out. One can only assume how well this young man can travel. It is a good start, but there's other issues that must be addressed before I'd recommend his entering college.”
Shelley Proulx (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)
**39. “I know exactly what's wrong. There is no communication skills in that house. If there were communication skills, there would not be that yelling throughout the house. That's what an Intercom system is for. Anyway, I'll kick this one off!”
Jared E. Rimer (Woodland, California USA)
**40. “I believe this is a form of co-dependency. The parents are unwilling to let go and the child is unwilling to assert his independence. This a very common occurrence where guilt and dependence are partners in a relationship. I think it is called Enabling, something we all be aware of and learn to do for ourselves, not let Mom or Dad do even if we are slow we will speed up with practice, be more independent, gain our dignity.”
Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)
**41. “Let me take a guess: Mom and Dad need to get OUT of the picture. How's a kid to know how to think for himself let alone speak for himself?”
Dorothy Stiefel (RPlist)
**42. “This is my first time reading your thought provoker and since my son has a good chance of losing all sight in a few years I am interested in what you're doing. Is this for a book? Are the responses on the web? Are you a professional
or sight impaired? You don't have to answer me, but it's just that I'm coming across blind 'education books' written in the 50's or well intentioned doctors telling me to 'wait and see' and it seems like yours' is a new approach to teaching. On the other hand I'm still new at this and researching.
BTW my son Ryan has Bardet Beidl Syndrome, of which RP is a part (very big part) of that, along with cognitive learning skills and who knows what may creep up. I'm prepared to care for him as long as he wants but we're concerned that we become 'too caring' and we've been warned that eventually you have to let go. O.K. enough about me but just wanted to say thanks for your posts.”
Larry Dobbins (RPlist, Dayton, Ohio USA)
**43. “ What's wrong with this picture? First, the parents appear to be doing everything for the kid. Kid should get his own windbreaker plus make the decision as to whether to wear it or not. Second, the parents should have known whether the kid would need a ride home or not. That sort of thing is planned for in meetings of this kind. There is no doubt at all. The addition of the cell phone implied that the kid might need it for an unexpected occurrence. Thing is, that the implication is patronizing. What should have been said was: "Take your cell phone in case your plans change."
With Just Plain Blind kids getting aides in their classrooms full-time and the usual problem of parents being over protective, society is
creating a bunch of dependent individuals who are going to be a detriment to themselves and those around them.”
FROM ME: “Ann wrote into blind-X a second time with the following comments-“
“I'm not sure if one should comment on the kid or the counselor. You're all right about the kid, but what about the writer of the piece, supposedly the counselor. this is supposedly a written account of his experience. It's not well written at all. Since Robert Newman's previous writings have been flawless in grammar and in spelling, I wonder if this isn't a comment on the "counselor" who
would be satisfied to send out such horrible writing, figuring that since he was blind, it was OK to do so? If you follow this line of
reasoning, then you need to ask yourselves if unprofessional behavior
is tolerated by sighted colleagues because they figure that a blind
person can not measure up. It also speaks to the counselor's attitude
that he would tell the story in such a way, being professional enough
to acknowledge that the kid needs help, but unprofessional in his
delivery of the message. Unfortunately, the world sees us and judges
us on not only our physical appearance, but on our written appearance
as well. Unprofessional delivery detracts from the story the
counselor is presenting and says that the counselor is following the
age old dictum of "Do as I say, not as I do."
I have written to Robert Newman asking him which aspect of this Provoker he wants comments for because both are valid. My contention
is that since Newman's track record for grammar and spelling has been
flawless up to now, there is something here needs lookin' at about the
so-called counselor, the protagonist of the piece.”
Ann K. Parsons
FROM ME: “First, I did write back to Ann and owned up to having sent out the PROVOKER with out having taken that final fine-tooth comb of editing that I normally do. Call it a mind-set problem.
Second, blind professionals at work or just blind folks writing into a listserv do have a audience and if your words and action mean anything to you, then there in lies a responsibility to do it right. Thus Ann’s comments are to be taken seriously; I do, what do you think?
Another thought- I do wish to do it right. I also know I am not perfect, though I’m working on it. I appreciate constructive criticism.”
**44. “Jack has never learned how to be *independent. His parents are wonderful enablers. Poor Jack has two perfect reasons to never strive to learn how to do things for himself - his parents. Do they do it intentionally? More than likely NO. I'm sure, they feel they are helping him, that he needs everything done for him. As a mother, myself, I know how hard it is to "cut the apron strings" and let your children learn how to do things for themselves. Life is full of "hard knocks", yet they mold and form us into the kind of adults we *eventually* turn out to be.
I could sit here and pick Jack's parents actions apart, piece by piece. But there's no need to do that. I will go on my *own* rant and hopefully show through a recent *real life episode* that it takes great restraint by parents to allow their children to out-grow them.
I cried for months before my oldest left for college, not that turning 40 had *anything* to do with it. My fears and worries encompassed everything from date rape, to her never wanting to come home again. Of course none of those fears became a reality, thank God. Her first semester away from home... she came home EVERY week-end. (yes I loved it too.) At Christmas break when she got online and found out what her first semester grades were, she dropped into a depression. She decided that she didn't want to go to that college anymore; that she didn't have any friends there, that the campus was too big, that the town was too small, that there was nothing to do. I listened to her litany of reasons why she didn't want to go back to college anymore for a couple of days. I let her vent and express her
disillusionment with college life... then, I sat her down.
I lovingly explained to her that even though she had gone away to college; she'd never really "left home". I knew that she assumed she could skate through her courses much like she did in high school and still maintain good grades, with little effort. That she spent more time running around town with her boy friend and other girl friends than she was studying. And then toward the end of the conversation I asked her how she knew she didn't like the town, the campus or not have new friends there?? How could she know, when she came home every week-end. She wasn't giving it a chance. I did stress that I loved having her home... she is, after all, *still my baby*
It's a hard lesson for parents to learn, but it's a very important one for the growth and self esteem of their children...... You someday will have to cut the apron strings, but the threads of love will always be attached.”
Laurie Steffee (Overland Park, Kansas USA)
**45. “Well, now! Jack seems to be pampered, doesn't he? Either his parent's have the misconception that, due to his vision loss, he can't function "normally" or, he does have additional disabilities or delays and truly can't function without so much "mothering" (in which case, he probably isn't ready for college), or, he is the adored only child, only son, baby of the family, or some other special status, irregardless of disability.
One interesting thing--Jack doesn't seem to protest the treatment. Here's the real problem.
We are always going to meet people who expect too little or too much of a blind person, and, maybe, in some cases, those people's opinions and notions can't or won't be changed. But, we as blind people can still try and educate, raise awareness or gently (or sometimes not so gently) try and change people's opinions or behavior toward us when it interferes with our independence, personal growth, wellbeing, safety, etc.”
Laura Collins (Rapid City, South Decota USA)
FROM ME: “Yes, a very good question- Which is worse, sighted people that do not believe in the abilities of a blind person or a blind person who does not believe in him/herself?”
**46. “It sounds like the student is entirely too dependant on his parents to take care of him or he is too lazy to do for himself (e.g.) cleaning up after him at the table, retrieving his coat, etc.”
Wayne Jolin (Saginaw, Michigan USA)
**47. “okay as per the norm with me read reread thought then allowed my initial reaction to kick in .... *grin* .... got to say my initial thought was hell where can I get me some live in parents like that?????? That is fair dinkun I mean this kid has it made in the shade and I want me some of that action ... the next thing that sprang to mind was well here you go learned helplessness totally in action and no one in the family triad seems to be aware of it let alone of their actions .... I asked myself how on earth could a kid grow to such an age and still have parents doing all this and until now no one seems to have observed it or even acted on it gee even my multi disabled daughter can locate at least one of her shoes then the other .... I am trying to not be judgmental here on either the kid or the parents because I know from personal experience with my own disabled kids
it is easy really easy to just do it yourself and faster without tears, spit the dummy, and all the countless hours that go into trying to get it right with them ... you can just get to the point of throwing your hands up and saying to yourself oh golly be look just do it myself - but the thing is when I do that I am underestimating my kids abilities I am sending then a message they are incompetent, and I am also letting them know sub consciously that unless I am there they can't get things done ... in this case I noticed there was not even an effort to encourage the kid to even try to locate or do something - small wonder he is going to have probs at college which needs greater independence and self motivation on the part of the learner - hell this kid relies on his parents to judge the weather so how the hell is he going to even borrow a book from the library or find his way to a lecture room was one of my thoughts - he seems so passive but at the same time most aware of what is occurring and unwilling to impact and change the behaviors of himself or his parents .. I mean I would be dying to see his travel skills to be honest .... and he surely has his parents trained is the other message I seem to be seeing ..he comments they react and do .... the message of his room is always a mess have they thought on getting him to tidy it up .... it would seem not ... the other thing I notice is that it seems like the parents no longer are people as in 'hi I am X and this is Y and here is our son John'(interesting how they do not even merit names in this story too I noted) then adding if it is appropriate 'oh by the way John is yadda yadda yadda disability' ..it is almost as though the parents have become the disability without they have no identity ..they cannot exist without this disability hence it becomes who they are .... this can happen one becomes so deeply intertwined into the disability unwittingly that you lose who you are and that is your identity as a person - learned helplessness maybe on both sides and they both need each other to validate their identity ...without the disability who would they be ??? would it even be possible for them to be???? Small wonder on the message John may not be ready for such a big undertaking - I am just puzzled as if the previous teacher/person/caseworker had noted this why was it not addressed prior to college ????? I mean we are talking independence on top of a move into adult education where independence, personal responsibility, and organizational skills - none of which seem to be present in John ... my big query would be is John ready for college as yet because what I am seeing here is someone who does not even seem ready for life .... I certainly would love to observe his functioning level away from his oldies and how much he is capable of doing independently or wants to do independently perhaps is the bigger question? so what is wrong with this picture - wow where can I start to me I see this huge tangled ball of wool with a lot of knots in it from learned helplessness, co-dependence, sub-conscious manipulation, lack of identities of people, people living through disabilities and in the middle of it all a young man that can state where he thinks the lining of his coat is but seems to have lost the use of his legs to go find it ... heaps of disorganization happening physically, environmentally and emotionally ...as I said I want me some of that do these parents hire out or need a daughter with all her own teeth who can cook sew and clean (not that those skills would be needed there I reckon) !!!!!!!! I also loved the hubby cleaning the crumbs up maybe I am being anal retentive here but gee in that type of setting I would be too scared to breathe too loudly in case I disturbed the tablecloth and caused a massive cardiac arrest on the oldies part !!! I am a cruel one aren't I but wow anal retentive plus on that action whilst there is a visitor there which would sure make me next time pass on the drink and cake in case of the mess yet the kids room is a mess - why??????? how come ?? it just does not fit the picky and would loved to have seen his room to see their definition of 'mess' and they even would give you a ride back from TRAVEL TRAINING too boot whilst lending you THEIR cell phone - think of the calls I could rack up - wow I want these people in my life as in yesterday”
Julie L. Robottom (Northern Region, Gresswell Cluster, Australia)
**48. “From my perspective, there is a lot wrong with this picture. First of all, the young man in the story is due to be engaging in some activities that will require a great deal of initiative and independence. He does not seem to exhibit these qualities at this phase of his adjustment to blindness. The adjustment to going to college is a tough one for anyone, even without the daily challenges of being blind. For many, it's the first taste of real independence. Some blossom and become mature, independent adults. Others don't, and end up returning to the nest until they've grown enough to take responsibility for themselves.
Let's look at this point-by-point.
The young man has trouble eating without making a mess. This will make him socially awkward, as he will feel that he is being scrutinized while he eats. Also, he'll expect his meat to be cut for him, his plate to be cleaned up for him. No one is going to do that for you at college, and no girl wants to go on a date with a sloppy eater. This is something that my isolate him socially, and needs to be addressed.
The fact that the young man expects his mom to get his jacket for him indicates two things. First of all, he does not have any initiative when it comes to caring for himself. If he did, he'd go into the closet and get it himself. How hard is that? Second, his mother seemed to be over-protective of him and coddled him by getting the jacket in the first place. She even decides that her high-school graduate son isn't capable of deciding what clothes to wear outside on a cold day. How on earth will she deal with the fact that her son is off at college and might choose the windbreaker, despite the cold weather? How will Jack deal with the fact that he must get his own things together for himself before going out?
The father in the story points out that the young man's room is a mess; so much, in fact, that nothing can be found in there. Frankly, I used to be a slob and very absent-minded before my vision loss. Now, I am forced to be neater and more organized if I expect to be capable of doing things on my own. Organization goes a long, long way towards bringing independence. Don't kick off your shoes anywhere; always take them off in the same place so you can find them later. Don't just toss your jacket in a chair; you'll forget where you put it when you want it again. As my wife would readily point out, I personally still need work in this area, but I've definitely improved out of necessity. What will Jack do when his mom doesn't keep up with his jacket for him? Will he call her from college and ask her to come find it?
Finally, we see that his father is also a bit over-protective. He gives Jack the cell phone to give him a lifeline while he's out. Granted, this is a good idea, whether you're blind or sighted. However, will Jack use the phone to call if he gets lost while using his cane, or will he work things out for himself? The first time you're on your own with a cane and you realize you're lost is scary. At that point, two things can happen. Either you cry like a baby and someone comes to your rescue, or you suck it up and figure things out for yourself. Hopefully, that second experience brings a little confidence for next time, and the next, and the next, until you wonder why you ever worried about stuff like that in the first place.
Let's not be too hard on Jack, however. Perhaps he has no initiative because he's never been given the opportunity to display it. If his parents have always done things for him, that's what he's become used to. It's an easy habit for both the parents and Jack to get into. The only way for Jack to break the cycle is to start doing things for himself.
When did this individual lose his vision? The story doesn't give an indication. If it was recently, at least there's some reason for Jack's lack of self-reliance. Sudden vision loss requires time for adjustment. He just needs confidence, and the opportunity to gain it.
If Jack has always been blind, it will be difficult for him to get out of the mindset of depending on others for everything, if that's what he's used to. His parents will also have to get used to giving him the opportunity to succeed in caring for himself. Either way, some independent living skills training and cane travel skills are in order before tackling college.
I can't help but think back to my college days. I'd never done my own laundry; I'd never cooked anything for myself (besides hot dogs!) before, either. I had to learn to keep a budget. I was responsible for my studies with no one there to remind me of this or that. Many people can't make that adjustment, even without having to worry about feeding themselves properly, keeping their room in order, and so on. If Jack doesn't get some training -- and some breathing room! -- he will likely be overwhelmed at college and fail. If he is lucky enough to discover that doing for himself isn't so tough, he may experience a dramatic turnaround and become an individual driven to success. The only thing that will determine this is his life experiences prior to going off to school.”
David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA
FROM ME: “Is it ever too late to start being your own person; taking responsibility for your needs, etc? What might be some of the consequences negative or positive for starting this at various stages in a persons life; starting at the age of a toddler, school age, young adult, adult,?”
**49. “My first reaction was, "Oh, poor fellow! The parents have taken a
perfectly normal blind kid and made him quadriplegic!" (although I'm
sure that's not the only thing to notice in this story)
On BlindKid, I don't think there will be much objection to the notion that the student should have started doing these things for himself many years earlier.
That said, I would be very interested in seeing the responses from other recipients. I'm sure there are lots of stories waiting to be told.”
Edwin Zehner (BlindKid)
**50. “Ok, it's time for a reality check for both parents and Jack. I've read through this response. If he has just lost his vision, it's one thing. However, if Jack has been blind all his life then this does make a different story. I'll tell you what's wrong with this picture. Now, please don't take
this to be too harsh, because I've both known, and had some of this happen (not for long) to me. I'll give you a couple of examples of people that I have known that grew up in a situation like this, and then I'll give you a brief example of me. I had the opportunity to attend a college prep camp (it
really didn't prepare me for college but that's for another time) and had become friends with one of the guys there. He was a very bright intelligent kid, had some site, not a whole lot, not enough to drive around or anything like that but a little. He went to the school for the blind here in Alabama.
He went to a small college, but then decided that he would start by going to a big University. He went from having things practically done for him and catered to him and other blind/visually impaired people, to a dog eat dog world basically. Here it was fend for yourself, learn to live on your own,
do things yourself type thing. It was all to overwhelming and he ended up dropping out. I don't think he was prepared for the reality of the whole matter. If you're not prepared and are afraid to stick it out, it can be rather daunting. I can tell you from experience if I didn't have the drive that first little while I probably would have as well. My mom hated to leave me up at the university and was afraid when went off or did things with everybody else and was afraid her baby would get hurt. But you surpass that.
I think that Jack going on and going to college, getting out and really seeing "how the other half lives" will be a wake up call for him and mom and dad. Now, for an example of how things could turn out if nothing was rectified. I used to go to school with a kid, knew him in kindergarten and
first grade. I sort of saw him grow up. His mother had a hard time of letting go even then. Which I can understand at an early age. As he grew older, got into high school and such, he never got out of the house. Mom used to shave him bathe him etc. I haven't heard from him or of him in quite a
while. What's wrong with this picture? What is going to happen to this kid when mom and dad aren't around anymore. Will he have a family and be an expecting father? Unless something drastic changes, no. I thank my lucky stars that I had a mom that gave that inkling of a chance to let me grow up
as hard as it was for her, let me get a few hard knocks as hard as that was as well. I learned organizational skills (my wife would beg to argue on some points) and learned to get around and buckle down and get the job done. I also learned how to handle it if I ever got lost and got past that. My wife
and I are expecting our first child now and I am holding down a nice job with a company that produces online educational software. It could be somewhat better, but it could be a lot worse and I'm glad I was given that drive and motivation (as hard as it was for mom to let me spread my wings
and gain that) to get out and live a "normal: life. It paid off and is still paying off. I hope I can give that drive and motivation to our child early on so that we don't have to worry what will happen if something happens to us. Take care, and as always a really good PROVOKER.”
**51. “Fortunately or unfortunately, I have had a chance to look at both sides of the coin. My son was diagnosed with RP when he was 15. He has always been productive and an excellent student. When learning of his RP he shutdown and went into depression. He was in his sophomore year of high school. Not knowing what to do and seeing as he was 6'3", I knew I couldn't force him to
go to school. We agreed on a compromise. He didn't have to go to school if he went to see a counselor once a week. I figured he could catch up academically. He stayed out of school and went to the counselor for an entire year. He got so board he went back to school and entered a program
where he could learn at his own pace. He completed all of his credits and graduated from high school a year early. He entered junior college enthusiastic and hopeful. Then he was hit with reality. The teachers
didn't believe he was visually impaired and wouldn't let him tape the lectures, the volunteer student to take notes did not show up half the time and the counselors weren't helpful. During this time he would not let me interfere, he wanted to do it on his own. He finished an accounting course
within one year and found out he couldn't do the computer work because he had developed arthritis in his joints. This one has shut him down completely. He went through the system to receive social security and has settled for that.
As my son was going through his adjustment I didn't want to add to his burden by expecting too much. He has always been a fighter and when he shutdown I figured he had reached his limit. He developed a seizure
disorder at the age of 6; at the age of 13 he out grew it, that same year he grew 6 inches and developed joint problems; at the age of 15 he was diagnosed with RP. Even at the age of 6 he was proactive in his medical
care. He wanted to know what was going on and what he needed to do to get on with life with each medical adjustment throughout his life.
At the age of 19, he was so depressed he was considering committing suicide and signed himself into a hospital. When he said he had enough I listened. He isolated himself. The only contact he has with the outside world is me and those who come through my house and his computer. He has his music and
books, and watches some TV, but it is getting difficult for him to read.
Now my RP has progressed to the point where I am legally blind. I am employed. My employer, co-workers, family and friends do not believe I can't see. Because they don't see me wearing dark glasses and sitting at home like my son, then it doesn't exist. Because I know the emotions and
feelings my son has to deal with, I feel very comfortable giving him a push. Although he didn't go to school, he still manages himself. He cooks, cleans and takes care of his business. The only advantage he has with me is that he lives under my roof. I am in the process of going through my own
adjustment, however, I have also given my son some options.
He has a choice. He can continue to live with me and pay me a 1/3 of his income and go to independent living classes or return to college. Or he can find himself another place to live and continue his life as he has. In either case we are in a win, win position. If he moves out on his own he
will be completely self-sufficient.. If he stays he will receive independent living classes, continue his education and expose himself to others who have his disability. As he accomplishes new things, he will
regain more confidence. I can live with that.
I know that my son is watching to see how I go through my adjustment. Knowing that, I let him see my frustration and pain, however, I also share with him my triumphs.
When I first started attending classes at the Braille Institute I was very uncomfortable. I shared with my son how I was feeling. I couldn't find the right words but he knew. He said you feel guilty because there are those who are worse off than you are so you are wondering why are you here. He
said he went through the same thing and he decided he would take the help that he needed and leave the rest for those that needed more. This helped me a lot. I found it very interesting that my son was helping me to get through these emotions because he too had been there. I asked him questions
about what size cane should I buy (I didn't have a mobility instructor even after 3 months of asking). He helped me to figure out how to use it (he had been using his for 3 years).
We have the same counselor at the Department of Rehabilitation. I understand now why my son failed and was so frustrated. The resources out there are for those who want to just survive being independent and not be employed. To find resources that support the blind person who wants to
remain employed or even go to college has been a tremendous task.
My son is 22 and I am 50. We have so much more living to do. I look upon this as one more challenge in my life and plan to succeed as I have with all the others. There isn't a doubt in my mind that both of us will succeed at whatever we choose to do with our lives.”
Sandra Oliveira (Long Beach, California USA
FROM ME: “An assignment- read back through this response and find all the places you can see determination.”
**52. “Wow!! There's sure allot of food for thought in this one. First of all, to say that this kid is being babied is quite an understatement. Unfortunately, it sounds like his parents have read every book ever
published on the subject of blindness--only by sighted writers of course. A big part of the issue here is not that the parents didn't believe in the abilities of their kid, it is that they simply didn't believe in the
abilities of blind people as a whole. And, were quite willing and unfortunately able to partake in the slow and ultimately, painful destruction of a human life.
Now, lets talk about babying. We speak of this as if it can only take place where blindness is at the center of the problem. Robert, we live in a town of over 500,000 people, most of whom have never lived more than down the block from their parents and siblings. How many times I've heard management
level women at work saying things like "my husband drives me to work when its bad out" or, management level men who have never shopped for and picked out their own clothes because, "my wife handles that". The point is that we live in a very self-centered and cottled society but, as blind people, we
don't have the "luxury" of being able to enjoy such treatment without paying an extremely high price for the consequences.
Unfortunately, the consequences are so much more negative for the "babieb” blind person because these actions will prevent him/her from being literally capable of survival if not addressed. Where as, the "normal" can, for the most part, simply skate through life despite having been a product of such
treatment. Although even this chicken will sometimes eventually come home to roost.
I think that the "babying" problem in so many cases, not just blindness, must be addressed when you consider such issues as violence in schools, teen pregnancy, and, we've all heard the long list of problems. Sad as it may be, and possibly in the long run it will actually work to our advantage, we
as blind people simply have to be better than "the average bear" and cannot afford the pitfalls that so many kids fall into. I'm getting more and more to the sarcastic point of view that most kids, not just blind kids, could use a good rehabilitation program away from home to undo what they've been
brought up with.”
Bob sinonson (Omaha, Nebraska USA)
FROM ME: “Do you think that in general present day parenting habits are in part doing too much for the child, rather than teaching the child to do for themselves? Is it worse for the disabled child verses the non-disabled?”
**53. As I've been reading over the first batch of responses, I am looking forward to college all the more. I have a mother who can be a bit over protective, but I've often wondered if that's just because she's worried about letting me out of the nest, so to speak, or what the deal is. Anyway, I really
admire the person in one of the responses who said she was doing laundry and the like at 16! I'd love to do things like that, but I just don't feel I have the freedom at this point. My mother's not the most patient person, and demands perfection. Obviously, this can't happen on the first try. This is
primarily why I’m looking forward to leaving.”
Stacy (Wisconsin USA
**54. “I won’t tell my name on this one, because my mother also is a member of this forum. But I’m blind and 16. She expects allot out of me. I help with cooking, with cleaning, taking care of kids, going to the store and all that and more. That means I get opportunities to stretch my skills and I gain from it. I wouldn’t be the self respecting young woman that I am with out her support. Thank you mother. I’ll not give my name here and wish you to examine your daughter and tell just by the look of me, that is me who writes this public response.”
FROM ME: “Mothers, if you think it is you this young woman is speaking of, write in and tell us about it.”
**55. “I think that the person who told the blind man about going to college didn't
have enough confidence in him when he told him that he wasn't ready to go to a large campus. I think that independence is very important and that blind student would have been ready for anything if he would have been independent.”
Beth Kats (San Marcos, California USA)
FROM ME: “Independence. Can you think of a better word or state of being? Then, how independent is independence?”
**56. “What makes you all so sure this youngster will behave this way when he leaves the house? I know some children who have an overprotective family, and the moment they know that one of their parents is in, they behave as if they were two years old. That is what the parents expect
them to do, and the parents could hardly bear to recognize that their children can live without their help. The parents need to be needed, and why should the children hurt their parents by showing independence? So the children play their role, and it is not too hard a role to play! But
when the parents are out of sight, the children change. As there is no one to work for them, they show that they can quite well do without help. What you need to do now is to get that boy out of the house,
around the next corner, and look at his behavior then. I hope you do not mind my bad English, but I use it quite seldom.”
FROM ME: “Good thought!, Yes, it may appear to be a snap shot of a different kind once the scene changes; out of the house, in the mall, at college, etc. But, tell me the story on how that kind of an individual grows from within an environment as seen in this home; guess its that old question of nature verses nurture. What would you think?”
**57. “I can accept that this young man is unlikely to turn out a model of organized independent living (!)
However I would hope that a professional observing these interactions would not make the knee-jerk reaction of comparing the client to their own construct of what a blind person should be, and how they should live.
To see all family dynamics in terms of blindness alone is to do a great disservice to the client. Many other factors could be in play here, and other hypotheses should be considered.
In any event, perhaps true equality means choosing to live in a disorganized manner!”
Dave Nelson (Carlisle, UK)\
FROM ME: “True. So what other factors may be at play here?”
**58. “Part of this problem in this PROVOKER falls to the parents, but part also is the child's problem. As I see it, the parents, who may or may not have other children, are first of all, not at all sure of their
son's abilities, and secondly they want to do things for him rather than allowing him to help himself.
Now, the student, has two problems as well, even if he has taken organization type classes, and living skills courses, his parents get in his way of ever achieving his goals, whatever they might be. At home,
he is kept from even trying to do things for himself, so almost must depend on his parents. I feel that many times parents would not be comfortable allowing this child to do for himself, so he simply quits
trying! If Dad's always going to pick up after him and if Mom's always going to get what he needs anyway, why should he make an effort? I had the same problem, as a child. When you have to live at home, you have to realize that your parents or siblings are not, sometimes, capable of
allowing! They might say you have to learn to do things, yet they will keep right on doing these same things for you! If you took a thousand courses in daily living skills, your parents wouldn't ever see you as
"capable" nor would they ever expect you to be. Habits die hard, so this, as I see it, is what's happening here. Now when this young man gets out of this environment, where no one waits on him, where he must
take responsibility, where he has to do for himself, he will probably do just fine! I think a lot of problems are caused when we have to live with others expectations, and families are most often bad at assessing
their child's capabilities. They either think you can do anything or they assume you will never accomplish anything. Unfortunately, this is the way it is with any child's relationship to parents. Their is rarely
a realistic, and growing realization of a child's potential. I have seen parents try to push children out of the nest,(so to speak) too soon, and I have also seen parents who do not understand that they have
to Let their children go--let them grow up!”
Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, Tennessee USA)
**59. “wow I have deep feelings on this one. First of all I do not feel that the client is the main problem. I think a lot of his dependence was fostered by parents who believed in their misguided minds they were
helping their child. They were trying so hard to protect him that in the end they caused him not to develop his own independence.
I have seen this so often from parents of a blind child I know who have somehow made this child so dependant that he only interacts with adults. While he is extremely bright when put in a room with other children he gravitates to the adults and will not socialize with the children his own
age. He has not developed the needed social skills. He reads books geared to adults, engages in political discussions but does not really relate to kids his own age. The parents panic every time he walks or
runs about without assistance.
I have seen it to in the family of a friend who has lost his sight as an adult. He needs rehab teaching but quite honestly if a rehab teacher comes into their home the family will not allow that teacher to do their
job. This man lives at home with his mother and she is quite overprotective. Meeting me has been a big adjustment for her. I remember when I first went to their house and would go in the kitchen to
get a glass of water when the lights were out she would run in and turn every light she could find on telling me not to spill it. When we would go out to eat it would be embarrassing as she would often tell the host
we were blind and would need a table by the window where it was light, often making us move several times before settling down to eat. Then there was the time that we were overcharged for an item at Wal-Mart. She went back with us, since she was driving and went up to the counter where
she informed the clerk we were blind and could not tell how many items had been charged. I personally had to walk away before I blew a gasket.
Anyway my point is this. The client is not the problem the family is. I do not believe this person is ready for college as he does not have the basic skills he needs. In order to get these he needs to be removed from
the family situation temporarily so that he can learn independence. This family also needs to be counseled to understand that while their hearts are in the right place they are doing this young man a disservice and
that if they truly want to do what is best for him they will allow him to take responsibility for himself. It is important they understand that they will not always be around to get things for him and that if he is
going to make it in the world as an independent adult independence begins at home.”
Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri USA)
**60. “Hi, first I'd like to say I love these thought provokers! I too had a lot of thoughts when reading this PROVOKER. I remember listening to my mom tell many neighbors she will be fine. She will trip on your step once and never will she again. She can skate and play with your children and all will be ok
don't pay any extra mind to her that you wouldn't pay to your child's other friends. My mother was a young mother of 19 when it was found out about my blindness and it was a wonderful teacher of an early childhood program that told her if you baby her now you will have to do it for ever. Mom said ""I
had a picture of my little girl sitting on my couch at the age of 20 asking for some juice. and knew that I must start teaching her now." I can't thank her enough for what she has done because not only do I cook, clean, work at a local daycare, attend college, I have dreams goals and expectations for
myself to some day have my own day care with a focus on special needs children. I want to teach those parents that over protection isn't the answer. And to those parents of the kid in your PROVOKER it isn't too late to sit down and have a talk, maybe enrollee him in a center for the blind or
something. Thanks for reading”
Brandy Wojcik (BlindKid)
**61. “Hmm. On the one hand, it sounds in some ways as though they're a close-knit family. I think that's clear from the interactions between the members of this group. On the other hand, that's part of the problem. They are a close-knit family, and yet Jack is not indeed ready to undertake many of the
responsibilities a young adult might soon undertake. He's not fully independent. I guess Jack is about eighteen, if he's a senior in high school, or at the least seventeen. I think a very typical prblem we as
blind teenagers have had is where to draw the line between being a good kid and being independent. In some ways I think I'm a little like Jack was at this age, although I think I was also considerably more independent. In the ways I was not, though, they were small enough that they could be worked on,
and yet significant in other ways. But Jack's problem is two-fold. First, he seems lacking in some basic skills. The scene at the table suggests he could stand fork and knife school, unless I'm mistaken. And why can't he go into his own room and look for his own windbreaker, jacket, whatever? Also,
it sounds like he's been conditioned not just to be a good kid (I wasn't particularly rebellious as a teenager, but I knew when to put my foot down and assert my independence). I think he's a work in progress, but he's not unsalvageable.”
John D. Coveleski (New York, New York
**62. “Well, clearly, this person is not ready for college, especially if he will
be living away from home. I'm afraid that what we see here is one of the
unfortunate negative consequences of mainstreaming. A blind person needs to
learn more than Braille and mobility in order to be ready for college;
He/she needs to learn independent living skills. Also, those parents need a
great deal of educating about the capabilities of blind persons.”
Bob Hachey (ACB-l)
**63. After a lot of contemplating on this Thought Provoker, I come to a full conclusion that none of the members of that family were ready to "let go". Mother, especially, needed to make her son retrieve his belongings himself even though there was company (the counselor) present. The
father was trying to be tough on his son especially when he commented about how the son's room was a mess and thus a probable reason as to why the jacket would be difficult to find in a hurry. But, his subtle
actions revealed that even he was "servicing" his son. The mother's actions were more pronounced whereas the father's were less obvious. As for the son, he's been deprived of the learnings of responsible
independence. I believe that the son would need to attend at a Independence for Living course before entering into college. The parents were too used to "servicing" their son and their son was not going to
enter college with confidence. Confidence is helpful especially when there's going to be stresses of college to come. Being prepared and confident before leaving home and personal attention is a necessary tool
for any individual.”
Adrienne Haugen, Ushers Syndrome (RPlist Olivia, Minnesota USA)
FROM ME: “Those of you who have gained a good measure of self-confidence. what were some of the events that made it possible for you to gain in confidence?
Second, how many of you out there went to a rehab center before going off to college?”
**65. In response to Lynn B's post about a relative having an attitude and
finding a beautiful change in her attitude for the better, made me think
about something here. We have all known someone who was basically
pampered all their lives...it all gets to be total ignorance and
needlessly unnecessary deprivation of self. Well, I think I was there to
I was born HOH but my parents insisted that I be treated as a hearing person. Well, it was quite difficult for me because it "cost" me a lot of life's pleasures that I could have possibly had IF I had not been in
so much isolation. The internet's access in the past 4 years has opened up a lot of old wounds that must be restructured and nurtured to a healing of completeness. For me, I cannot recover what had been missed
in the past but I can go on an live to the fullest now.
For parents, it's essential that their handicapped child be made as independent and responsible and respected as much as possible from the earliest years of its life. My parents thought they were doing their
best as they taught me about life's living...unfortunately, they just couldn't go farther than they could bear to see me go through. They wanted me home and to be raised in a "normal" family life...not at an
institution for the deaf and HOH. Perhaps, what they had done was okay but there were so much that I could've benefited from.
Make a mistake? Regrets? Then just change your course and DO something to change it.
My 2-cents' worth for today!”
**66. “Hazel - I know exactly what you are saying. My grandson married a lovely young lady who has been mostly blind since birth. She was so pampered and cared for she developed a real "attitude". When I tried to talk with her about O&M training and possibly getting a guide dog, she was
very upset. Two years later, she finally came to me and asked about getting a guide dog. Today, she is a totally different person. With her dog, she has come out of her shell, is pleasant to be with, and has made
tremendous improvement. She has taken the adaptive living courses at the blind center and is doing very well. All because she got a guide dog!”
**67. “This particular "Provoker" has brought up a lot of feelings in me, and actually re-opened some old wounds. This child was obviously over-protected by over-zealous parents, and not allowed to be normal-i.e. mostly not allowed to blunder or make a mistake. The bit that stuck in my craw the
most, I have to say, was the first remark about the crumbs on the table. So what if there are crumbs on the table at home? The father loudly told the son off for not doing things, yet neither parent guided the son into doing the right things, like going to get his own clothes for the outing!
This seems fairly typical of families that I have known in which there was a blind child, the finding of fault, and the not helping by setting up a situation in which a blind child can function in his own normal way. So if you're a parent what do you do? Do you make home like boot-camp, and provide
discipline and not a nurturing environment? Or do you smother a child so that he/she doesn't know the wonderful ways his/her senses can serve as agents of independence? As a child, what do you do? If you yearn for a full and interesting life as I did, do you go along with the smothering/bullying
and leave home eventually, as I did, or do you put your foot down again and again and again until your point is taken, and they learn? (I think a very strong character would be desirable for this latter response, or course of action. The family is generally where trust is born first in a child's
life. It seems that it's also where many pitfalls await the unsuspecting young blind boy or girl. Obviously, this boy hadn't begun to think about what he was doing or where he was going to get in life, yet. Unfortunately, kids do need some kind of a shove in order to make a start on their journey
toward independence. This might be painful for the kid, but also for the family. I would judge by the picture here that the kid was jus not mature, and maybe would be ready for college when a few things to do with tidiness and taking responsibility for his own life were pointed out to him. For the
parents, it seems like the same old story: not accepting the situation. Most blind kids have to meet some brand of non-acceptance or other. It may be trite, but true, however, to say that we're all learning, and we can't just throw the bundle of blame at the door of the parents. Surely, we all have
the right to be wrong and make mistakes sometimes.”
**68. “I came from a family scene such as this, I was the mother. It took a smart counselor and another Mom to get it into my head that if I didn’t expect my child to do for himself, that I’d have to be doing for him for as long as I live. I couldn’t believe the relief I felt when I saw the light! Why have to play catch up with your blind child. start it off right at the beginning, ask them to do for themselves as they have the ability; sight is not necessary for most home chores, believe me.”
Tracy L. (USA)
FROM ME: “This mother recommends- ”… ask them to do for themselves as they have the ability…” Another way to view this is to look at what is “age appropriate” and that is where your child should and should be. So it there is a functional limitation, like a lack of a good alternative, then this is where you need to seek professional or peer assistance to learn how it is that others who are blind do the task. What do you think, should the parents of a blind child feel, ‘If their kid can do it, why can’t mine? So let’s hop to it!’”
**69. “An excellent thought provoker Robert..Let me first say that nature / Nurture does apply here for all the right reasons. What parent would not want to protect their child in this fast paced world? My first response as a V R counselor would be a referral to a family support Network, if one was
available.. If not here is where the expertise of the V R counselor comes in, testing that persons skills.. It is not just visually impaired/ blind children who need Living Skills as pointed out earlier ..All of us as parents, in my opinion, for this current generation have been to lax in assisting our children in the growing process.. For those parents who have held stronger guidelines, I applaud you.. Look at this as like
packing for along trip.. If all the equipment is not included, then one would have a less than pleasant trip.. There is a whole generation of young adults out there struggling to make it.. Shall we blame mom and dad if there is a family unit? I think not, perhaps if there is blame and there
should not be is to look at our communities world wide.. The world around us for one moment should see that it is okay to have a disability, young or old and it is important that all young adults have training in school and at home to be able to safely one day" leave the nest", if that is to happen
successfully.. All of us make mistakes and our up and coming generations will to make those mistakes.. To be positive from the time we are born until we leave home, is an ongoing training, love and understanding from home, community and beyond...do not fault these parents in the story, educate
them, if we know what to say. Each of us can assist and help another family starting right in this forum ..Learn to laugh not to blame.. Learn that it is okay to become depressed, just do not stay there.. Teach our children and each other about what is needed, we all may be individuals but we
do not need to keep reinventing the wheel..Reach out and touch someone with a positive approach whereas we as parents and younger adults can make a difference in our world, blind or not...”
Lee A. Stone )Hudson, New York USA
**70. “I found your post about the young man who was going to be starting college very true and very sad. I have seen several blind people both of college age and those who have lost vision later in life to be in the mentioned situation. I personally think they are doing their child/loved one a disservice. I ask, would parents of a sighted child go and look for the child's coat for them? My mom's rule was if I did not know where I put it was my problem. Growing up, many times, I would be the last child to come out to play. This was until I began leaving
things in the same place or learned to remember where I put things. When I went to guide dog school when I was 17 years old my mom wanted to help me unpack upon arrival. I told her no I will unpack on my own. She sat and
watched while I found a spot for everything. During my unpacking told her that if she did not want a telephone call from me to find out where things were it was necessary for me to unpack. I could tell she was hurt. I went over and hugged her and told her I loved her. She told me I was right. In working with youth who are disabled, I have seen the negative impact of parental coddling. I have found that some colleges even subscribe to coddling students. I know of a case where a student was walked from class to class. I also know of a college that finds readers for students. If a college is
going to allow students to sit back and find readers for them what are they going to do in the real world.”
**71. “I think we all can agree on by everyone’s tone thus far is there some serious growth hindering going on. Both parents are hindering their son's growth which is setting him up for failure. We all know that this not only happens with people with disabilities, but also in those "average"
households where there is no one with a disability. This is only teaching him dependency which leads to being irresponsible. There is no way when he gets to be older will he be able to take care of his own affairs. From my own experiences even though I lost my sight while in my early 20's which now
it's been 13 years, I was glad that I was taught before I lost my sight how to take care of my own affairs which allowed me to implement it afterwards. Granted after the loss of my sight I did move back with my parents until I was able to gather my bearings once I was able to I started working on
getting out on my own. It would have been very easy to live with my parents and let or allow them to do everything for me and they wouldn't have a problem with it is the scary part. I know there is a certain level of nurturing that has to take place in order for children to gain confidence
and things of such, but parents sometimes take it to the extreme which leads to stagnation for everyone.”
Luis Roman (East Chicago, Indiana email@example.com)
FROM ME: “Yes, this over nurturing can happen to both the sighted and the blind. First, do you think it happens more often to a blind kid? Second, what is it with parents of this type?”
**72. I believe that an equal amount of counseling is needed for the parents. Parents of blind children do not automatically understand the blind, or what the blind is capable of; they must be taught. Tentle, of course, for they know not what they do. I was the only blind child in a family of 13, and to a great extent was hindered by my parents. However, I was a stubborn child, and it was not possible for anyone including parents, to convince me that I was limited. Unfortunately, though, not everyone possesses that kind of obstinacy.”
Jesse Johnson (USA)
FROM ME: “This lady spoke of the personal trait of obstinacy. How does a kid get something like this on his or her side?”
**73. “Love is a difficult thing to quarrel with. The parents loved their son very much; they didn't want to see him suffer; they wanted to see everything go well for him. They were prepared to make that happen. That's what any parent wants for her child. Even after they are grown, sometimes the parent
will make incredible sacrifices to see that their son's/daughter's needs are met.
Yet what a disservice this is to the young man, Jack. First of all, there is a double standard here. They don't expect him to be able to do anything, yet he is publicly criticized for his room being a mess. I knew someone who moved into a small apartment with another student. She had always had
things done for her. Yet, when her parents would come to visit, she would just be a mess because she knew nothing she was doing was quite good enough. She didn't get all the dog hair up. Maybe there was still a spot on the counter. Her parents would criticize for this, they would call to see that
the maintenance people knew the climate wasn't correct there, and they would criticize her because there was dog hair on the floor. So I think the person finally finished her schooling not believing at all in her ability. Not only that, if a person is in that situation long enough, the young man
is going to think he should be grateful to the parents for all they have done and be afraid to buck the system, so to speak. That's what happened to the person of whom I spoke. This young fellow needs to get out into the world more. He needs to meet more blind role models. I would like to see a
setting where blind adults took on such kids as this and they could shadow them for days or weeks even, say in the summer. They could live with them and learn how to shop, how to cook, how to live their lives, as blind people. I think the training center and independent living classes are fine, but what would be better than putting such kids with blind role models? And if the young man goes to college, he may well need to start at a smaller school and then, after gaining more confidence, go to a larger
university. He could use a mentor/counselor, perhaps, to talk to, be with, and learn from on a regular basis. He needs to be away from home long enough to really learn these skills, to be deprogrammed, as it were, and be so strongly steeped in them that he can teach them to his parents. Many of
us who ran the risk of being treated like that just didn't bother to go home anymore so we wouldn't have to deal with it. My mother always pretty much let me do as I would. She, like Brandy's, had been told I needed to learn. I heard her tell someone once that sometimes she has to bite her tongue to
not say something, but she just let me do things. I did appreciate her for it. When I went to live with my father, though, it wasn't like that. So, I just stayed away from him as much as I could. If I hadn't had my mother, and if I hadn't had the rehabilitation I had, I might not have been able to
withstand this parent thing.
I guess I've not said much except some disjointed rambling thoughts, but I'd sure like to take a person like that into my home and teach him/her about the skills of blindness.”
Cindy Ray (Leon, Iowa USA)
FROM ME: “How important would one or more successful blind role models be for Jack?”
**74. “The picture described can apply to any young person whether they are vision impaired or not. The parents are smothering the young adult with love and showing this by doing everything for him. This does not allow the young adult to develop and grow into a responsible adult who is able
to take care of himself and other people who will eventually depend on him. However, where other young adults might be starting to rebel against their parents' behavior, this particular person appears to be using his impairment as a crutch and necessary aid to his lifestyle. Until his
attitude changes towards himself and his capabilities as well as responsibility towards himself and life in general, then I do not see how he will be ready to grow and develop within a college environment
where he must be responsible for himself and his development/learning.”
Hazel (RPlist, Melbourne, Australia)
**75. Some one made a valid point that if this young person is blind from birth or if the blindness is relatively new, that makes a difference. As a future rehabilitation counselor/teacher, I would have to say that this young person needs services. One question that needs to be answered before we would go
further is: What does the client want to do? Does he want to go to college? If so, what alternatives have been explored as to type of college, course of study, etc. If the student has graduated as it seems to be indicated, some of these decisions would seem to have had to been made by now. Independent
living skills probably need to be learned. Will this student be living at home or in an apartment or dorm? If the student is going to be living at home and attending a community college, possibly one class to get started is not out of reach for a start. On a personal note, I have experienced
different things from family members. I have considered myself as quite independent. But my family tended to serve my food to me. My in-laws went farther and expected that when I came to visit or was going to visit other family members in their homes which were unfamiliar places, the in-laws
would take me to a sofa and put me there. They expected that I would stay there. I still allow people to serve me when we are having a family dinner just because it is easier. I know I am capable of serving myself. But how much of a point do I need to make. On the other hand, being forced to sit
in a corner restricts freedom and interactions with others and I drew the line there.”
Marcie Brink (USA)
**76. Ah! I love the response from the 16 year old, independent girl!!!! My daughter is almost 5, but I hope that someday she will feel as this girl does. How wonderful that her mother has allowed/made her be so independent. And how wonderful that she appreciates her mother!!!! Way
to go, girl!”
Debby Brackett (AERnet)
**77. “The thing that's wrong about this picture is that it's all too common. I know of one person whose life has virtually been destroyed by her parents. Yes, of course she bears some responsibility.”
Carol Ashland (firstname.lastname@example.org>
**78. “As a single parent who is just starting my process of vision loss, I don't feel qualified to address the specific needs of the blind teenager in this story, but what I do perceive is a family in need of counseling. There are basic parenting issues here that are intensified by their son's need for extra life
Attending to the son's immediate need for independence skills does not prevent the parents from sabotaging the process or results. Their over nurturing and smothering won't evaporate or go away just because there is distance between them and the son. The vacuum created by his leaving and
maturing could intensify their clinging to his "handicap". I try to remind myself that there is only one letter between smother and mother and I need to be careful to avoid that extra letter. Perhaps a quick way in addition to family counseling, to fill their need to be needed and nurture would be to get
a small fluffy white dog. That helps me to keep my nurturing impulses in check and allow my son to learn from life's lessons as a college freshman living away from home.”
Kay (Seattle, Washington USA)
**79. “Wow! This is timely. I just participated in a conference in Baltimore where
this issue came up. We were discussing the issue of basic skills and confidence needed prior to any blind person embarking on post secondary
school, employment and even running an operation under what is commonly called BEP.
Someone within the context of discussion mentioned the importance of basic skills, positive attitude about blindness, confidence, etc. as prerequisites for college and employment. We discussed the importance of philosophy and in particular the ongoing routine acceptance of some agencies with adjustment training programs that result in if not actually promoting dependence. One of the changes that is occurring at the Center where I work is expectations that blind folks can do stuff. We can learn, be employed and even be responsible for our own behavior. Rooting out the care taking. We also discussed the well intentioned but misguided approach and promotion of "vision dependence" for persons who have some vision. We thanked about the frustration of students who were and are still trained to use minimal vision instead of learning Braille, even in schools for the blind. We talked about the frustration of University training programs that produce teachers who often are not open to teaching alternate techniques to blind persons who have some vision, promoting "vision training" and low vision devices". All, regardless of their appearance in the story are contributors to dependence.
Someone brought up the 70 % unemployment issue. and we discussed it and came to the conclusion "no wonder why" when there is not a focus on basic skills and quality adjustment and orientation services prior to college or employment.
One person said it like this: "We take a blind student who is trained and "educated in the first 12 years , quite often without basic reading , travel and confidence as a blind person. Many of these students for example cannot produce or retrieve information other than on a tape or possibly a speech note-taker or through large print. Many of these folks have been sentenced to limited literacy by a system that promotes vision dependence. For example I understand that about 30 years ago about 30 % of the blind read and used Braille. Now it is estimated that maybe 10 % of the 1.3 million blind in the country can do so.
Anyway, we take this student and maybe run them through a quick College Prep program and send them off to school. We give them a computer, readers services, book and maintenance money, orientation to the school maybe. They graduate and maybe even get a Masters Degree. Then since we have so much invested in them we often select them for a job as a Counselor or Teacher.! We select them to counsel and teach what!/? These folks are also "role models" for the clients they serve! and of course they are.
As a member of an agency for the blind , a few years ago I began looking for the cause, for the "enemy " only to find that often it is us!
We came to the conclusion that basic orientation and adjustment skills training with a sound philosophy based on a positive attitude rather than fear of blindness was essential as a prerequisite to college, employment and even the BEP programs.
I am happy to say that we at our Center continue to learn and grow. We are transitioning away from the limited summer program for blind students who aspire to go to college. We are basically adopting an approach across all full time training that not only promotes but requires basic blindness skills for all who come, including seminars and blindfold training and use of the word "blind" as strategies. We are not there yet but if the student in the scenario came to our program, he would likely be recommended to stay at least 6 months and postpone starting college in order to get the basic skills.
One of the interesting dynamics in the scenario is the family and their approach. Its very normal for families to want to take care of their blind child or any child . It is just usually accentuated in cases where there is a blind child. One thing I learned is how difficult it is for a student who goes home to use the skills they learn. All the skills in the world without the confidence to use them can become worthless for the blind client who confronts his family when returning from the rehab center.. Like Helen Keller who returned to her parents home, even if she had wanted to apply what Annie Sullivan taught , her family insisted on trying to take care of her. The student who is going on this travel assessment might learn some things about using a cane. However, if confronted by the parents to "put it away" he will not likely resist. He has not only had enough training in travel but does not have any confidence deep in his soul about self worth as a blind person.
At the conference in Baltimore one lady I really have come to like and respect , Peggy Elliot, said "we have to battle for their soul". If we can get the client to understand and accept that it is not the blindness itself that is debilitating but the attitudes that society , professionals , employers, families and yes the blind themselves hold that are either the problem or the solution in terms of if and to what extent the blind person will succeed.
Jim Omvig was also present and it was my first time meeting him. Mr. Omvit and most in the room would not advocate for this client to attend college in the next few months. Thanks for the opportunity to give this input.”
Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)
FROM ME: “’Peggy Elliot, said "we have to battle for their soul".’ What all do you think is meant by this phrase?“
**80. To some degree I was that kid. My parents admitted that they were too protective of my youngest sister and me when we were younger. Sure, I had to do my chores and study when I lived at home, but we weren't given the opportunity to visit friends as much as my sighted sister did. But there
were certain things my parents insisted doing that I felt I should have done myself.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that the man in this story will have to leave home in order to gain some sort of independence. Perhaps the issue of independence was the reason the former counselor and vision teacher felt that he may not be ready to attend college, who really knows? On the other
hand, it's possible that these people didn't deal much with blind clients and didn't have the belief that they could really accept the challenge of going to college, or starting a job.
Bonnie Ainsworth (NFB-talk, Laramie, Wyoming USA
**81. “bonny I can identify as well as I know there were things my parents did that I wish they hadn't I would have liked to learn more things from my dad about how to fix things around the house, woodworking, carpentry etc, but there were things he assumed I couldn't do.
I did move out of the house became independent and live a normal life but think there were some things my parents could have done differently to make me even more independent.
Moving out of the house in my 20s was the best things I ever did and without that I don't think I would have become self-sufficient.”
Chris ramsay (NFB-talk)
**82. “As a parent who is also blind since birth, I would remind everyone that learning to be independent is partially what college is all about and going off to college provides a great transition in which some things must be done on one's own, but, at least if living in a dorm, others are done for you.
Shopping and cooking are optional, but getting around and organizing and doing studies isn't. One hopes that the school has insisted on more independence than this young man's parents did, but chances are he, like many of his sighted counterparts, can make the transition to college, though
not without some mistakes. But then none of us got through college without some, did we?”
Jeanne Smith (Amesbury, Massachusetts USA)
**83. “FROM ME: Luis “Roman responded in the third update and wrote back in response to my comments to his response:”
> FROM ME: "Yes, this over nurturing can happen to both the sighted and the
> blind. First, do you think it happens more often to a blind kid? Second,
> what is it with parents of this type?"
“It's hard to say which it happens more to. I don't know if there has been any type of study done pertaining to this issue. I know though that it does happen in both types of families and right now because I work within the disability arena I can only speak to what I as of late have experience with.
I do definitely see quite a bit of this especially from people who were born with a disability or those who acquired their disabilities early in life. For that matter even those who acquired their disabilities during their early 20's and 30's and had things done for them anyway. I think some of
these attitudes are attributed to insecurities and to the parent being in the frame of mind of being the rescuer.”
Luis Roman (East Chicago, Indiana)
**84. “I was raised with a mixed bag which is probably what happened with many
When I was the first of two blind family members, the family was shocked. However, my mom was unhappy with the way another family member dealt with her disability (results of polio) and she was bound and determined that my sister and I wouldn't be stuck in the same negative rut.
Further, she noticed that one of our family friend's 'sons who was mentally challenged had been passed on from grade to grade with little help or hope of success so she determined that my sister and I would not
attend the local public school, but, rather, the school for the blind. (that was another mixed bag.)
Since I was quite precocious, my family didn't have to wonder very long as to whether I would function normally or not. I passed what I knew on to my sister and she took the good stuff and knew from me what not to do. Hahahahahahahahaha.
Thank goodness we were encouraged to play outside, including falling down, bloody knees, lips etc., riding our tricycles off the edge of the sidewalk, etc., like any kid might do. My family didn't make weird rules
about the stairs, just ordinary ones. (we did like to play on them).
We played in the mud, soaked each other with the hose, picked the neighbor's flowers (oops) and apologized to her, jumped off of large rocks, porches etc. much of what I could no longer do now. I am sooooo glad I got to do those normal things while I could before other
disabilities hung around.
On some occasions I think our mom was glared at and possibly reprimanded by other adults for allowing us so much freedom. I know that when we were learning our way around the University, people glared when she didn't open doors, tell us which direction to turn, etc, but she was
there not to take us around but to help if and when we needed it at first. She intended to be totally absent from the scene when school actually started. I think this was hard for her.
On the other hand, we didn't learn housekeeping as well as we could have or doing our share of the chores because we were so exhausted after being away from home all week that she wanted us to rest and have a good time on the weekends. Further, she once said it was easier for her to do
things herself than to have us do it or risk flack from me (my sister never gave any flack; not even in her teens.) She truly thought she was doing the right thing however, and figured that when we were old enough
and ready to learn those skills, we would. We did learn the skills but we really haven't learned to love doing them! Hahahahahahahaha.
I also tend to allow family to serve me especially with the in-laws because they just don't get it. I don't know what closet they think I hide in at home and what stork brings food there to me but they
really can't handle it if I do it myself or even get up to move around. I turned this around somewhat when my husband and I had a housewarming party which was done partly to educate a little. Yeah, a little.
We certainly learned to keep track of our own stuff but now and then, just out of nurturance, or if I wasn't feeling well, my parents would do things for us that they knew we could do ourselves.
I didn't learn to travel on my own very well in my family but I think it was that we did so well at home and school that getting around in unfamiliar situations might not have been thought about that much. We
could have learned to get downtown, to go to the store, mail a letter at the post office, when we lived in a small town but they might have been afraid to have us out on the main drag which might have been a highway. We certainly could have done more of this when we moved to Lincoln in
high school but I think there was some fear around it. We didn't take cabs, buses, etc. until we were out of college which sounds weird now. Perhaps our parents thought we'd be employed out of college and learn our way around that particular vicinity, I don't know. Who could have
forecast the more nomadic culture we now experience? People didn't move around, change jobs, etc. that much back then.
I have noticed that my parents are more protective of me now that I lost the small amount of vision I once had. This seems a little odd since I didn't see that well and still get from point a to point b. Due to other
problems, I don't do this as quickly or flawlessly, and I think they might be confused, as many people are, between blindness-related and other-related problems. Dizziness, for one thing, can cause confusion
and orthopedic problems tend to influence my not walking a straight line. But I still get there!
Mealtime was a problem. They, even dad, were too worried about flawless eating, no crumbs, nothing on the face etc. When we're out in public even now when I visit, dad will comment if he sees something. I really don't need this and it's not the end of the world but I have to get that
napkin up there in milliseconds before a comment comes. I don't like being watched that closely, especially by my own family. I was glad when during much of our upbringing, my sister and I ate out in the kitchen by ourselves.
When we visited someone else and food was involved, mom sometimes wanted to put newspaper under our table which was not necessary and was totally embarrassing. I think she thought she was doing it for the fear of the people we were visiting. By the time I was a teenager I finally
protested loudly at New Years and it stopped.
Mom didn't like the way we were stared at in the small town where we lived, so we had to look perfect and act perfect, which was a strain. She seemed to think that how we functioned reflected on the
respectfulness of the family. This was pretty scary. I didn't like being in public and learned to have terrible stage fright which is a bummer for a musician.
Now I'm away from home and don't have to be that perfect. If the world wants only perfect blind people to be examples, well, I'm not it. If someone wants an example of a person who has her own mind and is herself, that's another matter. Scary how our world doesn't really want that.
But somehow, I came out that way.
It's like we were encouraged to be perfect as blind people but not as much was given to being ourselves. I think I got much of my being myself from fighting off stupid rules at school. Mom defended me as a blind
person but not as much as a person. It was like there was a difference between the blind ideal example and the real person. I think she's pleased with the blindness results but not with me as a person. I still
am working on how to fill that gap.
Well, I knew some "Jacks" at the school for the blind and I was guilty of leading one of them around for years so that now she doesn't get around very well on her own. So I did the same thing my mom did. I encouraged my friend mentally but not as much physically. I try not to take the
blame however, because the school staff could have done more about it. I know one time they told us not to walk around holding hands because it would look like we were gay, (that was embarrassing) but they didn't seem to address the travel issue. I think they didn't because they figured
that since she was more blind than me that of course she couldn't get around as well. Eeeeew! But I did teach her to climb the jungle-gym, jump off of porches and, oops, throw rocks! That last one had bad
results, one time resulting in a broken front door to the school and one time a rock hitting me in the head instead of going over our tin chicken-house roof. Oh well! At least she got to do something else
besides sitting in her chair listening to music as her family had her do. She might never have cooked, gone to school, gotten work etc if some of us hadn't pushed her. There were other examples but I've rambled on
Lauren Merryfield (Washington USA)
**85. “While looking through some of these responses I see several good points. One of them being that it is only nature for the parents to want to protect their child from the fast paced world of today. However, their actions in the long run is only going to hurt their child.. When he goes to college,
like he so eagerly wants to, he won't have anyone to take care of him. I can certainly guarantee that his roommate won't.”
Brent J Heyen
FROM ME: “Interesting thought- This gentleman (others have indicated the same point too), that it is natural to want to ‘protect’ their child. So might it be said, that to protect by all the signs portrayed in this PROVOKER, that it may appear to be worth while in the short haul, but in the long its out come will give the opposite effect?”
**86. “I'll tell you one major thing that is wrong with this picture. We do not have enough information to be jumping to such outrageous conclusions. Since this councilor was there to discuss future education and training for this young man and to find out what kind of family support he had, why didn't he
begin by asking the parents some direct questions about their views and attitude for educating blind persons? Is blindness the only problem that this young man has to deal with. Are there other children in the household, and if so, are they pampered the way that he is? If he is being pampered
just because he is blind, this makes an excellent argument for placing blind children in Residential Schools for the Blind. There they would be taught how to care for their own needs and had better keep their room cleaned up or else continue to stay under restrictive measures. Also, if this young man made the grades allowing him to graduate from high school, why should we think that he is incapable of doing college level work?
Overly protective parents are not restricted to blind children. Sighted children have them too! Having a messy room, although disgusting, is not a sign of low intelligence. Einstein couldn't even tie his shoes!
Therefore, I say we need more information and that someone needs to sit down and have a serious heart to heart talk with those parents. Children grow up to be what their parents allow them to be. That is why God gave kids parents to train and to teach them instead of letting people lay eggs and
have the sun hatch them.”
Freda Dotson-Trusty (Pensacola, Florida USA)
**87. “In regard to the current "Thought Provoker" the parents of this young man
are assuming incompetence. They are relating to this adult as though he
were a 4 or 5 year old child. I'm sure their intent is merely to "help",
but by treating him in this manner they encourage an attitude of incompetence and total lack of responsibility and apparently this young man sees nothing wrong with this. Therefore, his view of his role in the world must be very limiting.”
Linda Ray (Kansas USA)
**88. "Well, the problem is obvious. The parents don't truly understand who they
are. If they are going to work in the best interest of the child, then
they need to allow the child to become more independent upon themselves.
This has nothing to do with having a disability, just the ability to let
happen what should happen. The young man appears not to have any problem
giving orders to his parents, I suggest his mom should let him wear the
windbreaker and freeze his tueche off. Maybe then he will listen to a
weather report or better yet, get himself off the chair and go outside and
feel what the weather is like. The same holds true for the father, give
the young man 35 cents and have him use a pay phone. If I can teach my
daughter these simple things and she doesn't have a disability, then why
can't a parent of a disability do the same.
I remember a quote from one of those placards you can by in hotel gift
shops. It read, "If you love someone, then let them go. If they come
back, the love was meant to be."
Jeffrey Pledger (Burtonsville, Maryland USA)
**89. “I guess I would say, Being as dependent (or coddled) as he is, how is he going to survive in
college? And for the rest of his life? I would have had real concerns
about the relationship between Jack and his parents. I would want to know
whether Jack has the skills to actually do all of these things on his own,
to be an independent adult.”
**90. " I think that regardless of whether the child is blind or sighted, this kind of dynamics between parents and child, as illustrated in the thought provoker
narrative, does occur--parents doing things for him/her rather than making him/her go do it him or herself or getting it for him or herself. I've also
seen very over-protective and smothering parents of blind and sighted children alike. Likewise, I've seen blind and sighted children be so disorganized
and very messy and hygienically unclean. Whether the child is blind or sighted, he/she should have and needs to learn how to be independent and resourceful.
He/she also needs to learn to clean up after themselves--their room, after they eat, etc. As many have pointed out, Mommy and Daddy won't be there forever
for the child to depend on and come running home to when something goes wrong at school, on the job, or wherever. Yes, I understand that there are close-knit
families and that parents want the best for their children even if it may be to protect their children from the kind of world we have today. However,
sooner or later, that child is going to have to learn to get out there on their own and be independent, especially if he/she is thinking about furthering
their schooling, get a job, wants to start their own family, etc. They have to learn to problem-solve, using their own resources and feedback from other
people outside of their family.
I also understand how there are times when the parent wants to and does do the task for the child because they find it easier and faster than if the
child was to do the task him or herself. While this is great and dandy, again, there comes that time when the child has to learn how to do the task themselves.
Not only will the child end up having to do that very task sooner or later in their life, but to do the task for them directly, or indirectly, tells the
child that he/she is incompetent or does not have the ability to complete the task. Thus, to allow the child to do as much as possible, even if it may
take longer than it would for you to do it yourself, is better in the long-run, and it builds the child's confidence and self-esteem up.
Okay, I understand having very helpful parents, friends, spouses, etc. to help you find something that you misplaced, get something for you every once
in awhile, give you the weather report every once in awhile, but it's not good when it's to the point that you are solely dependent on those people for
all that you could do on your own. I sometimes ask my husband, John, what the weather is like outside, to fetch me something, or to help me look for something
I misplaced, but I also make my own initiative to do those same things on my own so that eh can finish up whatever he's doing and so as to maintain my
independence despite that we live together as a very loving and supportive couple. Living with these kinds of boundaries of asking for help yet doing
things on your own is living interdependently yet independently.
As for teaching the blind or sighted child independence at an appropriate age and what the measuring stick should be, I think that the measuring stick
should be according to societal norms. For example, if a child should be potty-trained by three years old, then that should be accomplished by that age
regardless of whether the child is blind or sighted. I cannot say whether you have to work harder with a disabled or blind child than with an able-bodied
or sighted child, as each child is different regardless. What I do know is that society expects for the blind and disabled child to be further behind
cognitively than their able-bodied and sighted counterparts; thus situations when parents of disabled children have lower expectations of the child, which
leads to over-protective and smothering actions. In turn, unless intervened with self-esteem and confidence-building or the child strongly expresses the
drive to be independent, the child internalizes the constant smothering to the point that they buy into being incapable and helpless. While this is a
detriment when any child does this, it's definitely a detriment when disabled and blind children buy into expected helplessness and pure dependency. Not
only has the child learned to fulfill the stereotypes of disabled people, but this action is refuting what blind and disabled people are actually capable
of doing; thus ruining or distorting the image of us as capable blind and disabled people. So, over-protection and smothering shouldn't be allowed to
this degree even if the family may be a close-knit family. Of course, this is not only the case with blind and disabled children. Newly blinded and disabled
adults as well should be encouraged to learn adaptive methods of living as independently as they did previously so that they can regain their self-confidence.
My ex-boyfriend previous to my husband was a perfect illustration of the thought provoker narrative. He was in his mid forties and I was in my mid
twenties at the time. I didn't know anything about all this, though, until we were well on our way to going steady. Because I had to do so much for him
to the point that I started teaching him and making him clean up after himself, for instance, it was causing a lot of strain on our relationship. I just
couldn't foresee us having children as we'd hoped if I had to baby him or had to teach him how to be independent along with taking care of our children
and rearing them. Six months of that with the hopes that things would change, I finally had to break it off with him. Okay, I understood that his parents
cared and that he had a balance and orientation problem. The problem, however, was that I've met many blind and disabled people accomplish living on their
own without supervision that I couldn't see why my ex-boyfriend couldn't accomplish likewise. Second, his parents were well into their sixties by this
point and his siblings had their own families to tend to that being burdened with responsibility for their older brother would have been too much. Likewise,
I also met a blind mother hand-caudal their sighted five-year-old son. The boy dropped his jacket in the middle of the floor and asked his mother to pick
it up for them to which she obliged. In both cases, parents were enabling for this dependence to occur, which I saw as a detriment. It was not only encouraging
pure dependency, but it was also encouraging pure laziness.
I always had the drive to be independent but that was because the nuns at the orphanage (I lived there for the first eight years of my life until I
was adopted) encouraged me to learn to do things on my own--dress myself, navigate on my own, etc. There were many other children there who were much
younger than me and needed to be tended to, so they were not always able to come running to me. Sure, they helped me at times, but not to the point of
allowing me to be purely dependent on them for solving problems, finding things I lost, etc. Likewise was the case when I was adopted even though I was
the only child until I was fifteen. There were some tasks, though, that my adopted mother would do for me all because she felt it was easier and faster
for her to do it herself instead of me doing the task myself. When I would be calling to get information on something and I was confused, she would pick
up the other phone and do the rest of the talking for me. While it may have been a great help at the time (during my teen years), it wasn't in my favor
by the time I moved out on my own. Sure, my parents taught me the basics of independent-living skills and I had O&M training, but speaking for myself
on the phone or getting clarification on things I was confused on was my weakness. I didn't have the self-confidence to advocate for myself and be assertive.
I somewhat learned how to do the things my mother would do for me on my own when I moved away at age twenty-one, but it wasn't until my husband and I
got together when I was twenty-five that I started gaining the confidence I wished I had earlier in life. He not only would teach me the strategies of
being assertive and ways to do the things my mother would do for me more efficiently, but he would encourage me to use the added skills he taught me.
Now, I'm able to talk to people more confidently even when I'm flustered and confused about something. I'm also able to be more assertive about my needs.
In fact, two years ago, my husband had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance because of severe respiratory problems. If it had not been for what he
taught me those previous five years and helping me build up my self-confidence, I probably would not have been able to hold myself together during those
two weeks he was in the hospital and when he was sent home for recovery for the next month. I probably would not have been able to advocate for him or
tend to his needs adequately the way I was able to.”