Future Reflections April 1982, Vol. 1 No. 3

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Shorewood, Illinois

Dear Barbara Cheadle,

We are very interested in receiving the newsletter for parents of blind children.

Our son is 16 years old and went totally blind in May of 1980, after he was hit on the head in the hall at school. He had congenital cataracts and very poor vision and, at that time, all he needed was the hit on the head to detach the retina.

We even took him to Boston for a third operation where hemmoraging destroyed the optic nerve in his remaining eye. The whole ordeal was heartbreaking for us and very painful and discouraging for him.

We were members of the Prairie State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, and our only counsel and support came from our friends in the NFB. Family, neighbors and friends quietly deserted us. Even now, we are that family with the blind child. Our youngest son has been the target for ridicule and cruelty because of his, "stupid blind brother".

The fact of the matter is that Gary is a very bright and good-natured Junior in high school. He is the only blind student, and is very lonely at times. He is on the honor roll and wants to go into Engineering in college. We also have a boy a year older than Gary and he has been great support for him.

The whole ordeal has brought our family closer together, as we all care for Gary very much.

It has become acutely obvious to all five of us, that the main problem for a blind person lies in the attitudes of the public. Our job lies in educating others to the fact that blindness is an inconvenience and with the proper alternative techniques learned, the person can make it in a sighted world.

It isn't easy to cope, I believe it takes a lot of guts and determination to survive.

As parents we have an obligation first to learn all we can about all aspects of blindness. Exposing our child with all aspects of life such as skating, bowling, (he takes Karate), swimming, and outings etc. He/she must have this chance to be with others, fail and succeed, just as the sighted do. He must be acquainted with successful blind adults, who can contribute much in encouragement and friendship. We must try to educate others about blindness and that isn't easy. Prejudice lies deep and awakening closed minds is a job, but it can be done by just the presence of the active self-assured blind person.

That is our important job to help them truely like themself, to treat others with consideration and respect. We cannot over-protect them, feel sorry for them or spoil them. It breaks my heart sometimes to watch him struggle so and be hurt by others, but we must help him develop inner-strength. That is what will help him survive, I believe.

The school special education helps, to a point, but a lot of their attitudes go along with the general public, for the majority of the teachers don't even wear glasses. Positive connection with other blind persons is and has been the most and best guidance.

The National Federation of the Blind doesn't do for the blind, it guides the blind to do for themselves.

Thank you so much for the opportunity of your much needed paper to help parents such as ourselves do the best for our child.

Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Jones


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