Visual impairment in a child is a condition that hinders a child’s ability to see, which can be caused by birth defects, injury, illness, or other issues. In the United States (US), an estimated 8.7 million people are visually impaired, translating to about 10% of the population, including people who are blind or have low vision. According to the National Eye Institute, this number is projected to increase to 13.4 million by 2050. Moreover, more than 20 million children have some form of visual impairment, and one in five children has a vision problem by the time they turn four. Parents and teachers need to take special precautions to help these children succeed in school.
A recent study of children with visual impairment found that they struggled in school and had difficulty succeeding academically. The study showed that students with visual impairment have more difficulty understanding their teachers’ instructions and have trouble with written work. With this information, families, and teachers need to know how to support children with visual impairment and help them succeed in school (Mayara et al., 2019). This information is a growing concern and calls for a serious initiative to study how families adapt to these children and how different they are from other families. In addition, the visually impaired children in the US have been overlooked for many years. This is also a population that is often forgotten and underfunded. They are not only a group of people who are often ignored but also people who deserve to be heard.
Families with visually impaired children in the US have many different needs than other families (Bailey & Smith, 2000). For example, they need extra help with everyday tasks such as cooking, driving, and doing laundry. They also need to get used to the idea that their children will need more support throughout their lives. Many families want to adopt children with visual impairment (Lupón et al., 2018), but this is not always possible because of these children’s extra needs. Another difference is that these families often have a guide dog. This guide dog helps visually impaired child to navigate their way through the world and to function daily. These dogs are trained to sense when visually impaired child is in trouble and help them get back on track. These dogs also help visually impaired child to get around obstacles in their way, such as stairs, curbs, and doors.
The concept of visually impaired children has changed in the US. In the past, visually impaired children were often treated as if they were disabled, which meant they could not do things like play sports or attend school with their peers. Today, there are many different ways that these children can play sports and attend school with their peers. These children have a new sense of pride and confidence in themselves because they can participate in sports and school activities with their peers (Nixon II, 1988). Additionally, in the 1800s, the idea of visually impaired children was that they would be cared for by their parents and not allowed to interact with others. This led to many of these children being mistreated and abused, and eventually, the US created a law to help these children be able to live more independently. The law required schools to provide education for visually impaired children and allowed them to go outside and be in public places. It also required parents to provide care for their children.
People would also view those who are visually impaired as a burden and that their lives would be more difficult than others. Nowadays, people are more aware of how different children with visual impairment can be and how they can learn as much as anyone else. Children with visual impairment can learn Braille, communicate via sign language, or use a guide dog to help them navigate the world. The concept of being visually impaired is changing in the US and becoming more accepted.
Visual impairment needs to be considered to study a family’s cultural diversity. If a child has a visual impairment, they will be unable to make sense of the symbols and symbols the parents use to communicate with each other. The child will not be able to see what the parents are doing, which can affect how they interact with each other (Leyser & Heinze, 2001). This means that a child with visual impairment will not be able to make sense of their family’s culture. If a family is from a different country and culture, the child will not be able to understand the symbols in the new culture, which can affect how they interact. This is why children with visual impairment need to have an interpreter when visiting a new country or living in an environment with a different culture.
Another critical question that visual impairment poses is how it affects a child’s sense of identity. When a child is visually impaired, they cannot see themselves or their surroundings as they would with sighted eyes. They might not be able to see their loved ones, making the child feel alienated and alone. This could lead to feelings of depression and low self-esteem. This can also cause children to be unable to explore or participate in the same activities as their peers, leading to social exclusion. Therefore, exploring how family members can adapt to such a lifestyle for children with visual impairment is critical.
Families with visually impaired children find it challenging to adapt to their lifestyles. This is especially true when it comes to everyday tasks (Ammerman et al., 1991), such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. However, there are many ways that families can adapt to the lifestyle of a visually impaired child. Depending on the severity of the impairment, some children may require full-time care, and others may be able to live independently. The first step is finding out what the child likes to do and what they can do. It’s essential to find activities that keep them involved and engaged (de Klerk & Greeff, 2011). For example, if the child enjoys art, have them create a new piece of art every day. The child might enjoy playing board games with the parents at home or learning sign language. Another way parents and families can adapt to the lifestyle of blind children is to have a family member take on the responsibility of cooking and cleaning. Alternatively, a family can opt to hire a housekeeper or caregiver to help them out or have a family member take on the responsibility of shopping and grocery shopping.
The good news is that some organisations offer many community resources and services for parents and families with visually impaired children (Anthony, 2014). Organizations like the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), and The Seeing Eye and Guide Dogs for the Blind are great sources of information. Other resources include local centers for the blind, a school counselor, a teacher, or an ophthalmologist. These organizations have information on how to live with a visually impaired child, what services are available, and how to find help in various areas.
There are also many resources for parents of children with disabilities and a variety of organizations that offer support. For example, the National Eye Institute’s National Eye Health Education Program has begun to investigate the needs of these children by surveying parents and teachers. The program found that the number of visually impaired children in the US has grown to over 2 million, and many are not receiving the appropriate level of education. The survey also found that many parents are unaware of the support available for their children and that teachers are not always aware of what resources are available. These gaps need to be corrected by the government, families, and other people who relate closely with these children.
10% of the US population is visually impaired, yet this population has been overlooked for many years. Out of this percentage, more than 20 million children have a visual impairment and low vision. These families are different from others as they modify themselves to adapt to these children’s lifestyles. These modifications bring along challenges to the families. However, organizations such as The Seeing Eye and Guide for Dogs for the blind, the NFB, the AFB, and the National Eye Institute offer services and resources for these children and their families. On the contrary, many of these visually impaired children have parents who are blind, and many of them do not have the resources to help them. This is an important topic to explore because these children are at a disadvantage in many ways. They can’t see the world around them, so they are limited in their learning opportunities. The lack of resources for these children, their parents, and their families is a real issue that needs to be addressed.
Ammerman, R. T., Van Hasselt, V. B., & Hersen, M. (1991). Parent-child problem-solving interactions in families of visually impaired youth. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 16(1), 87–101. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1093/jpepsy/16.1.87
Anthony, T. L. (2014). Family support and early intervention services for the youngest children with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 108(6), 514–519. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1177/0145482X1410800612
Bailey, A. B., & Smith, S. W. (2000). Providing Effective Coping Strategies and Supports for Families with Children with Disabilities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 35(5), 294. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1177/105345120003500507
de Klerk, H., & Greeff, A. P. (2011). Resilience in Parents of Young Adults with Visual Impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 105(7), 414–424.
Leyser, Y., & Heinze, T. (2001). Perspectives of parents of children who are visually impaired: implications for the field. Re:View, 33(1), 37–48.
Lupón, M., Armayones, M., & Cardona, G. (2018). Quality of life among parents of children with visual impairment: A literature review. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 83, 120–131. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1016/j.ridd.2018.08.013
Mayara Caroline Barbieri, Gabriela Van Der Zwaan Broekman, Amanda Aparecida Borges, Monika Wernet, Regina Aparecida Garcia de Lima, & Giselle Dupas. (2019). Trajectory of adaptations done by families of children and teenagers with low vision. EscolaAnnaNery,23(2). https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1590/2177-9465-ean-2018-0241
Nixon II, H. L. (1988). Getting Over the Worry Hurdle: Parental Encouragement and the Sports Involvement of Visually Impaired Children and Youths. Adapted Physical ActivityQuarterly,5(1),29–43. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1123/apaq.5.1.29