College Connection: Three Things Parents Can Do For Their Visually Impaired Child
By Jack McCormick
Parents want nothing but the best for their children. This is why I am so often asked questions like, “I have a 6-year-old son who has a vision impairment. What can I do to help him become independent when he grows up?” I am lucky to have the parents I do because they have done many things that have helped me become the confident and independent person I am today. I am going to share a few examples of what they did for me in the hopes that you can help someone in your life, too.
Never Say “No”
“No” was never a word I heard growing up unless I was misbehaving (not that I ever did that). Once around the age of 8, I was talking about what I wanted to be when I grow up and my Dad, a financial planner, said “Jack, maybe you can take over my business.” My response was “I can’t do that, you drive lots for meetings and I am not allowed to drive.” Instead of agreeing with me, my parents simply replied, “Jack, you could just have the clients come to you.”
I was never given an easy way out because I couldn’t see well. Instead I was intentionally challenged, which helped me develop many skills. In my preschool years, my parents would go for walks after dinner when it was dark. Most nights I would follow them on my tricycle. I have never been able to see in the dark. My parents didn’t always know this but when they found out, they didn’t stop me riding the tricycle in the dark. I believe that this helped me gain the excellent orientation and mobility skills that I have today.
Children who are different are often targeted by bullies. I was bullied frequently but I always knew that I could go to my parents for help. Being there also refers to being your child’s biggest advocate. Relentlessly advocate for an accessible education for your child because without that he or she will never be independent.
I hope that you can apply these examples to your own life and that you are inspired by my parent’s actions – I know that I am! As always, feel free to reach out online.
Jack McCormick is a 21-year-old honors business student at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, and he is a member of the National Young Leaders Program for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Jack was diagnosed in high school with Leber congenital amaurosis due to mutations in the RPE65 gene. He is also a Sofia Sees Hope Ambassador, helping people living with LCA and IRDs.