I have shared with some of my families that I work with that I have started this blog and am sharing some of the experiences I have shared with their children in hopes to inspire or to help others who have connections to people with visual impairments. As a result of my “sharing” my experiences, I was happy to get a phone call this morning from a parent who shared back with me.
Being a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, not all stories that are shared with me by families are positive ones. Some stories can be challenges their child is having doing specific task that in the past they have been able to do without any assistance due to their vision changing, or the first time that they recognize that their child’s environment needs to be modified not only in their school setting but at home too.
Before I begin to share our conversation we had first thing today, I wanted to assure you that she gave me permission to share and suggested I post about it.
My student has been out of school sick since last week with a case of bronchitis. The diagnosis came this weekend after a trip to emergency care. The doctor, very typically prescribed an antibiotic for her to take 2 times a day for a 7 day stretch. Nothing out of the ordinary here yet, right? Well, I forgot to mention that this student has a degenerative eye condition which causes her eyesight to fluctuate day to day. She does have some limited vision, but in all essence she is blind with very little functional vision. So, the prescription is filled and the family returns home to mend her back to health.
A little background on the student is; she is a freshman in high school and has always been extremely independent around the house and in school doing chores and assisting in family tasks such as making her lunch since the second grade as well as her older brother’s. She is a bright child and is at the top of her class academically. She only asks for help when she truly needs it and always tries on her own first before seeking out any assistance.
Knowing that she had to take her prescription 2 times a day, and also knowing where the medication in the house is located, she has been going into the cabinet and retrieving her own medication since returning from the doctor on Sunday. Her symptoms had changed from just a cough and weezing to a stomach ache and nausea the last two days which could have easily been explained by taking the antibiotic without any food as we all know who have had to take a series of antibiotics before, so no real red flag there.
Upon further investigation, it turned out that she had not been taking her prescription, but instead a dose of her brother’s medicine that was also in the cabinet for a different issue than bronchitis. Thankfully, it was caught by her parents when they counted her antibiotics in the pill bottle and realized that only one pill was missing instead of the 6+ that should have been missing. It was discovered before any harmful side effects occurred and was addressed.
Mom, although she was clearly upset and felt that she should have made sure the bottle was clearly labeled in hindsight, admitted that sometimes she can overlook her child’s visual impairment and forget to put in place some easy supports around the home for safety because typically she is so independent. She said, “all I had to do was put a rubber band on it and it would have been fine. Nothing fancy, just a rubber band.”
It was a teachable moment for the student and mom too. To stop for a minute and realize that even though her child can and is performing at the same level of her peers academically and is participating in social activities like her sighted peers, she needs an additional/supplemental skill set than her sighted peers need to be safe and successful going forward. This family is amazing and is very active with other families with children who have visual impairments. With her permission to share her story, she was hoping to be able to help other families to think about the little things that could be real game changers in the lives of their children. Like mom said, “a simple rubber band and this whole thing could have been avoided.”
As her child’s vision continues to decrease as a result of her degenerative condition, more and more supports will need to be in place. This is where the Expanded Core Curriculum and working with our students regarding independent living skills and modifications around the home is beneficial not only now when they are children, but help foster those skills to allow them to be successful adults as well.
Below I found some links to materials and devices to assist in labeling household items. These gadgets and labels are super cool, but a low tech modification like a simple rubber band you have lying around can do the trick as well 🙂
Labeling household items by VisionAware I located through the AFB website
recordable magnetic labels from Florida Reading and Vision Center