A couple of quotes that have stood out for me, over the years I have been raising my children who are bright, loving, independent, unique and blind. Also some questions to be continually asking ourselves.
A number of Early Childhood Educators working with children with visual impairments used to tell me they did a lot of “hand-sitting” (as with teenagers one does a lot of “tongue-biting”).
Hand over hand manipulation, and too much information without experiencing, fosters an environment of little or no learning; the information or experience is not assimilated into the life of the learner.
A couple of teachers for students with visual impairments have said that a good integration aide will “do themselves out of a job”.
The object is not to integrate the aide/assistant into the life of the student, but to have the student integrated into their own community of peers; thereby no longer having any need to be present, the student having become independent, and interdependent with their own group of peers.
A past presenter at the South Pacific Educators In Vision Impairment (SPEVI) said that the two skills he used every day of his life were orientation and mobility, and social skills. These were the two neglected for his entire schooling!
All the information in the world, and even access to it, will mean nothing if I cannot move about in, and interact with the world…my world. If I cannot belong, I will have no purpose or hope.
Some questions to leave in a personally prominent, but nevertheless private, place to foster a regular consideration of one’s motives and interactions.
Am I interacting with (name) in ways that make me an indispensible attachment to him/her?
Am I interacting with (name) in ways that make my constant presence redundant?
Are my interactions with (name) moving her/him toward independence, and interdependence within his/her peer group?
Who can and will I talk with about resources, ideas that have worked already, suggestions and my own accountability in these things?
I would suggest that the student/child be named (whether this is for school or home) as one is then considering the particular person one is interacting with.