Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Babies of Blind Moms

I had to do another post today. I was reading the yahoo newsfeed and came across this interesting article. Its title, Babies of Blind Moms Excel in Vision Tests, caught my attention in a nano second.
The article finds that "Babies born to blind mothers have better visual attention and memory than their counterparts with seeing parents, new research suggests.". Now I find this article truly interesting for a few personal reasons. If you have been following me over the years you will know that I was raised by a single mom who is totally blind (and was blind before I was born). I have said for years that her blindness really didn't affect me the way most sighted people would suspect. In fact, I can't remember more than a handful of times that her blindness truly did impact me in a negative way. Sure, we didn't have a car so I didn't learn how to really drive until I was in my 20s. But I grew up in a city and took a city bus. So did all my friends so that didn't really matter.

My mom and I had our own intimate communication. We understood each other very well. We laughed at a lot of things along the way. Thankfully my mom has a pretty good sense of humor. There are fond memories I have of her "blindness moments" the time she tried to cut her own hair or yelled at me so long that she didn't hear me actually do the chore she was initially yelling at me to do. My favorite moment was when I was a kid and we were walking down the street. I had been laughing and teasing her about never being able to "catch me" with her cane. She hadn't been quite able to really get me with her cane and I was quite proud of it. Well one day my mom had her day in the sun. She patiently waited for her cocky little girl to get caught up in her own joke and then WHAM! She got me! Right in the calf!! I fell down, pride wounded, wailing about the injustice that had befallen me. And my mom just kept on walking.....with a proud grin across her face. Ha ha, I am laughing out loud right now as I type these fun memories.

My point is that I know there are some parents out there that wonder how their child with a vision impairment is going to make it especially if their child is totally blind. Well, I can tell you one thing. My mom and I were totally broke and on our own on the southside of Chicago. We had good friends, a sense of humor, independence and an intimate bond that went well beyond what vision allows a person to see. Your child will make it. The key to success is simple. It's quality of life. Our kids gain a great quality of life by having developed independent living skills, mobility (YES, USE THE CANE), social skills then the academics. Our kids learn by experience so we have to let them "fall down and learn how to pick themselves up". They can't have you slaying their dragons forever. And when I say independent living skills, I mean real independent living skills. You have to have the same kind of expectations for your kiddo with the vision impairment that you would for any other child. Adjust your expectations were it is necessary (for kids with multiple impairments) but empower them to get to their highest potential.  You ask any successful person with any kind of disability why they are so independent and they will tell you the same kind of answer: "My parents didn't treat me any different. My parents had the same expectations for me as they did my typical siblings. My parents made me do it." Yes, teachers do help, more services, grand IEPs are all tools but I will tell you over and over the key to a great life for a child with a vision impairment is parental support (not parental enabling). Think empowerment! Just say "Yes I can". Fake it 'til you make it! The white cane is your friend! I can keep the sayings going all day long....

 Getting back to my point.....The article goes on to say that "One of the most striking and endearing findings in this paper is that the babies of blind mothers significantly increased their attention-getting vocalizations to the mother over and above that shown by babies of sighted parents," Metlzoff said. "They crave maternal social attention and switch modalities and produce auditory events that will get the mom’s attention. Brilliant!" Can I get an amen to that!?

Read the article. Here's the link:

PS-One of these days I will post some pics of my mom and me from back in the day :) Keep reading!

Conference time!

Hi friends,
I am excited to announce that I will be back at the Perkins 30th Annual Early Connections conference April 27, 2013 at Perkins School for the Blind.  This annual conference is for kiddos birth to 7 (with childcare!).
 Here's the link:
You can get all the information about attending the conference from this link or you can go to for more information. I will be presenting three different times (you will be sick of me by the end of the day, lol!) I will be presenting on building your social skills toolbox, a professional development group on social skills and a panel discussion with  my students and their parents called "Everything I Learned, I Learned Because My Parents Made Me Do It". It's gonna address how parents can successfully empower your kids to be awesome. I think it is going to be a fun day. I look forward to it. Plus I am happy to once again present with my fabulous students. Come and say hi if you are going to be there. I would love to meet you :)

I hope you can make it!

In related early childhood news, have you been on earned Parent's Choice Foundation Seal of Approval! Way to go to our friends at Wonderbaby! In need of more resources and community friends like us, check out Wonderbaby. You will see me there, too!