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Year : 1959  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 76-78

The right attitude towards blind children

Bombay, India

Date of Web Publication8-May-2008

Correspondence Address:
Rehmut Fazalbhoy
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Fazalbhoy R. The right attitude towards blind children. Indian J Ophthalmol 1959;7:76-8

How to cite this URL:
Fazalbhoy R. The right attitude towards blind children. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1959 [cited 2023 Nov 28];7:76-8. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/ijo/pages/default.aspx/text.asp?1959/7/3/76/40729

It is natural almost inevitable, that when parents discover that they have a blind child, they are not only sor­rowed but shocked. They react in dif­ferent ways as can be seen from the two incidents which have appeared in print depicting the reaction of two mothers at the birth of their blind babies. The first story is a story of faith, the second, of frustration.

After many years of married life, a certain couple eagerly awaited the birth. of their first baby. The child was born -- a beautiful baby, but with eyes which would never open. The doctor broke the news gently to the father and left him to tell his wife that the child was born blind and that there was no hope of restoring vision. For a moment the wife was silent. Then she said, "He has been sent to the right parents. God knew how much we needed the baby, and how much he will need us. Let us give him all we can". What a wonderful attitude of faith.

The second story is rather grim, al­though happily, the ending is good. It took place in a village in Northern Rhodesia. A certain chief, returning to his village after a day's hunting, heard strange sounds in a bush near­by. Peering through the bushes he saw a woman from his own village in the act of killing her child. The wo­man begged for mercy. "Sir, my child is as good as dead. He is blind, and therefore useless, and I can no longer spare the food for him." How fright­ened and frustrated the mother must have been to want to be rid of her child. To-day however, at the small school for the blind that the chief start­ed, the same boy has learnt many things and is a useful member of his rural community.

It is a tendency with most people faced with misfortune to rebel, and to wonder why it had to happen to them. Often the parents refuse to accept rea­lity. If finances permit, they will go from specialist to specialist, hoping that some one may have that special something which will cure their child. The re­sults of such actions are tragic, both financially and emotionally. If the child is older, it will be psychologically un­wholesome even for him.

Then again, parents begin to have visions of an isolated, unhappy child. They may picture the child as a social stigma, forcing them to curtail their own activities, keeping the child dis­creetly out of sight when company comes; perhaps even moving to a new part of the town in order to escape the pity of those who knew them be­fore the catastrophe occurred.

These are some of the typical initial reactions of parents whilst they are still trying to adjust themselves to their child's handicap. Gradually, the des­pondence gives place to a kind of acceptance, and in some cases, even to hope. What can the ophthalmologist do about it? His will be the first advice sought. It is at this juncture that the truly human and humane qualities of the surgeon come out.

First, and this is most important, the parents must be made to overcome their diffidence and embarrassment and to realise that nothing more can be done for the child. The parents will be brought to a state of great anxiety and tension over the child's development. At home, eating, dressing and playing, walking and talk­ing will present heart-rending problems. To watch a child grope round patiently and endlessly for a toy which is just a few feet away from him, or to watch him bumping into objects around the house, taking for granted that everybody else does the same, to watch other children playing fearlessly on the sidewalk and to know their child is forever barred from such carefree play, these are tense and unhappy moments which parents repeat a thousandfold.

For just these very reasons will the parents need guidance and help. For as strong as is the initial fear, just so strong is the desire of sensible parents to give to their child the best they can, to build - up in the youngster a sense of security and happiness, for if the child is happy and contented, that child will surely get the most out of life. The par­ents, have a tremendous task ahead of them if their child is eventually to deve­lop into a normal happy adult. This is both his heritage and their duty. If this is to be achieved then what should be their attitude to the problem?

Firstly, the child should be given a positive feeling of SECURITY. One cannot do this better than by making the child feel that he is wanted and loved by his family. Make sure that he is free from fear and aggres­siveness regarding his blindness. En­courage the parents to answer his ques­tions frankly. Do not let them give the impression of secrecy or reluctance regarding the handicap. Don't hesitate to use the words look and sec. Don't let him feel that it is something to be ashamed of, or afraid of. Let him realise that he is a little different and that he sees things with other senses which people see only with their eyes. There will be surprising little emotional disturbances for the blind child who grows up in an atmosphere where everyone has accepted and talk­ed about the fact that he sees things in a different way and where such words as blind and look are not shun­ned. Where this is done without un­due emphasis, the understanding fre­quently just seems to come.

The second important point is the praents attitude towards the child. They should not be over-indulgent on the one hand nor harsh disciplinarians on the other. The tendency is more towards the former, For example, parents will permit the blind child ex­tra favours and excuse him from duties.

They will tie his shoe-laces, pick up the things he drops, put away his toys. This is poor training, and will accentuate his unlikeness to his play­mates. It is hard not to pamper and spoil a handicapped child, but life will be more pleasant, for the whole family and for the child, if the parents can be made to treat him as a perfectly nor­mal youngster, as indeed he is capable of being. Let them build in him a sense of self reliance and personal worth. Let him realise that he too has responsibilities. Let him look after his own things, his toys, and books, and clothes. The sooner a child learns to meet his early needs, the better equip­ped he will be to meet the needs of life later. If he feels accepted, if he has plenty of pleasurable experiences, with the parents and with the environ­ment to which they are introducing him, his attitude towards himself will be off to a good start. He will want to grow.

Third is the interest angle. It is an established fact that the blind child tends towards inactivity unless positive steps are taken first to arouse, and then to sustain his interest in his sur­roundings. Here the parents play a vital part. At a very early age he must be taught to play with his toys. A child may be completely bored even though surrounded by the most expen­sive toys for they will mean nothing to him unless father and mother can share them with him. First curiosity should be stimulated as soon as he is able to move around. It is vitally im­portant that his "awareness" of things about him and of life in general should be developed, as for example, tell him about all the things that come into his daily life. Tell him about food and where it comes from, how it grows, about money which buys the food, about flowers and animals. In short about life in general. Let his interest never flag or waver, and if he con­tinues to badger you with questions, success is assured.

Remember that curiosity and desire arc the two eyes through which a per­son sees the world in its most en­chanted colours.

Here then, are your three stepping stones - security, the right altitude, and interest - towards fulfilling your duty and towards bringing the child into his normal heritage - that of an independent and happy adult.

Thoughtful care given to children is important in building for the years to come. Such children will grow up to be persons who will derive considerable satisfaction from life and who can, at the same time, make a genuine and use­ful contribution to society.


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