Mona is a frontbencher in her class. Yet she screws up her eyes when copying from the blackboard. At the end of the day she has watery eyes and swollen eyelids. She does not pay attention, is restless and distracts others. She dislikes reading and sports and has been failing for the last few months. Yet, from her answers in class and her performance in last year`s exams, one can see that she is not a dull child.
The symptoms you should look out for:
- Chronic eye irritation as indicated by watery, red-rimmed eyes or swollen eyelids.
- Nausea, double vision or visual blurring during or following reading.
- Rubs eyes, frowns or screws up his/her face when looking at different objects.
- Is very careful while walking, does not run often and keeps tripping or falling for no obvious reason.
- Does not pay attention to blackboard work or charts or maps.
- Displays restless/irritable or nervous behaviour after close visual work.
- Blinks while reading.
- Is unable to read for long periods
What can you do as a parent?
- A major problem that the blind child faces is restricted mobility due to her limited capacity to see objects. She has to wait for sound, contact or smell to make her aware of her surroundings. So, train her to pay increased attention to small auditory and tactual clues.
- The child can acquire speech and language in the ordinary way, if provided with appropriate opportunities to learn. Give her more concrete experiences than a normal child like, handling an object, using embossed and relief maps and graphs and Braille reading and writing, using auditory aids such as the tape recorders.
- For the partially sighted child, specially one with borderline vision, minor changes such as making her sit near the blackboard, placing her desk in good light, making it possible for her to freely move about, may be all that is necessary. For the more severely handicapped, partially sighted child, books in large print and special magnifying glasses may be required.
- The congenitally blind child may be somewhat slow in learning to speak and use language. This is because she cannot see the lip and mouth movements, or the bodily movements of the speaker. Never lose patience with her. Your patience and encouragement can go a long way in making her self-sufficient to a large extent.
- The visually challenged child also shows some speech defects such as, speaking at a slower pace, talking loudly, using few body movements, facial expressions and gestures, using less lip movement in articulation. These problems can be also be overcome with appropriate training.
- Education of a child who is both aurally and visually challenged should be done in `one to one` or `small group` situations making the maximum use of the sense of touch, smell and taste.
- Moving around freely and independently despite possible dangers, is a very important ability for the blind. So, do not be over protective and stop the child from doing this even though she may stumble, fall and bruise herself. Special training has to be provided at home for free mobility of the child with visual impairment. Plenty of sounds, objects and odours should be made available within easy reach of the child to encourage her to move about and explore. Training should include, allowing the child to follow family members around the house, encouraging her to use furniture, utensils, etc., and to taste and smell vegetables and fruits. However, sharp objects should be kept away at a safe distance. She should also be allowed to move about freely in open spaces.
- Encourage normal play activities with some modification and supervision. Also, teach her normal habits of eating, dressing, etc. Give her responsibilities and work around the house like normal children and treat her as normally as possible, with understanding but not with pity.