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for the Blind

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Rejection of assistive devices

15 y.o. legally blind and very active in sports like JV soccer, hockey and track but will not accept the help academically. Resists the help of aide, use of CCTV, and only uses ID cane during O and M sessions. Has a nice group of sighted friends and does feel the need to meet other legally blind students. She is very smart, but does not do the work in school. Can anyone relate to this? What can I as a parent do to help her with accepting the need for all the services available to her ? She is not doing well academically-not working to her potential. Please respond. Thanks

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Re:Rejection of assistive devices

Hi Donna, I sure hope you get a chance to read this.

I'm 30 years old, born legally blind, but honestly, most of the "visually impaired" world is totally new to me. I have spent a majority of my life denying that I couldn't see as well as normally sighted people. It started before I was 15 years old. I think I can understand a bit of where your daughter is coming from. I refused all or most of the help I was offered. I was adopted from Korea, therefore I was already very different from my peers in school. I hated being made fun of. I did wear glasses that at the time made my eyes look huge, and they only helped very minimally. I had no choice but to have some of my school work blown up on the xerox machine. They thought I was literally retarded for the longest time because I could not fill in the bubbles of Scantron sheets. I finally got help with that. They enlarged the test on the Xerox machine and I read the test and circled the answers. Someone who could see then went back and filled in the bubbles for me. I went to three schools that had what was called a Vision Resource program. I met many wonderful teachers through that program, and they helped me by enlarging my paperwork and helping me use the computer. I had to have extra time for tests and enlarged papers. My peers made fun of me for not only being Korean, but also because I couldn't see as well. I was offered cane training (not an ID cane but a regular red and white cane) and was offered braille. I refused. I said "No way, I don't need that! I'm just fine." I was afraid of being any different than I already was. I was also very stubborn and refused to think I had any limitations. This was good in some ways. This was not good in other ways. If I had learned the cane and braille back then, I'd have saved myself lots of work. I spent so much time trying to see like everyone else, that I wasted more time. I did have some mobility training, and I did use a CCTV at home when I attended college. I had no choice by then. The schoolwork was impossible for me to keep up with without the CCTV. However, my parents supported me, and I only used it at home. I didn't have anything else but my mediocre glasses, which were only decent for reading, and barely that, and a hand-held stand magnifier that magnified at 4x. I finally told myself to stop pretending I could see normally. It was hindering me. Now that I'm an adult I found all sorts of problems that I was causing myself due to being stubborn. At one point, my stubbornness was great; I enjoyed all sorts of things because I refused to accept my legal blindness. But now it's not so easy. I think your daughter needs the support of you and her family, and her friends, and teachers. I am thinking she is going through the stage of wanting to be as independent as possible, but not realizing the irony that refusing assistive devices actually hinders her independence. I think it's wonderful she enjoys sports and has good friends. If you have a close relationship with your daughter, support her choice to not use assistive devices at this time, but make sure she realizes how important they are. It is better that she gets the training and has the assistive devices, than not. In other words, better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them. I would have saved myself a lot of pain and problems if I had had my cane back then. I have been criticized that I don't need a cane by sighted people, however I tell them I look like I don't need a cane, because I use one. It is too hard for m to focus on more than one thing, so when walking, my cane is a second set of eyes (sort of) and has saved me many times since I learned how to use it. This got very long, and I left out lots of stuff, but I hope you and your daughter can work through this. You sound like a caring mom. I'm out of time now anyway. I know you mentioned other issues like her academic problems. Hope you write back, then we can talk more. Take care and good luck!


Re:Rejection of assistive devices

You might want to ask her if the CCTV actually does more harm then good(the different contrast and tracking of the roller desk might bother her by giving her headaches or a motion sickness feeling when she reads from the screen). Also some of it might be that she just wants to fit in and be like everyone else.

Will she accept large print textbooks or a worksheet that's been blown up on the xerox machine?
She has to come to terms with her visual ability so she can start learning. Also how are her peers on the subject of her vision and the different methods needed for her to get the job done? And most importantly how are her educators as far as giving her acess and not demeaning her for using assistive technology?

Re:Rejection of assistive devices

I am leagally blind too, but I've never rejected the assistance offered to me in school. I was extremely grateful for that. She's a teen and that is a very important period of life for anyone. You want to be accepted and liked. Perhaps she would be embarrassed by using a cctv or other adaptive stuff. She may feel that her friends will make fun of her and leave her.Sounds like she wants to fit in with the sighted kids.
She needs to learn to be proud of herself, despite the fact that she is paritally sighted. I hope she can find a role model. Someone who can influence her not to be ashamed of the equpement to assist her do her school work. It's great that she finds sports to be an outlet for her, but her formal education is critical to gettng a good job. It helps you be a more well rounded individual.
If you have a good rapport with your daughter, ask her why she doesn't use the equipement. I know the stuff can be weird looking, but if she looks past that; her academic dilemma could possible clear up.
I didn't have that problem. I didn't care what others thought of me using reading classes and large print in school. I taught myself to be strong and ignore the comments. Some kids teased me and others respected and accepted me. It's all in ones atitude.
I did my own thing. I never believed in peer pressure.
Good luck to you and your daughter.


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