"My child was recently diagnosed with a visual impairment. Where do I start? What should I do? Who can help?"
Receiving a diagnosis of visual impairment for your infant or toddler can be overwhelming, but there are several steps you can take to ensure that you and your child receive the support and resources you need to thrive.
Whether your child is blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind, here are ten recommendations to help you navigate your journey. Discuss these with your Early Intervention Teacher of the Visually Impaired (EI-TVI).
#1. Connect with Specialists
You may need to work with a variety of healthcare professionals, including pediatric ophthalmologists, optometrists, and low vision specialists. These professionals can provide valuable insights into your child's visual impairment and recommend appropriate interventions. HERE is a list of pediatric eye doctors in Colorado.
#2. Understand the Diagnosis
Learn as much as you can about your child's specific condition. Ask the healthcare provider for detailed information and what to expect in terms of development, challenges, and potential treatments. Click HERE for information about many of the visual diagnoses.
#3. Contact "Early Intervention Colorado"
Baddies and toddlers with visual impairments are often eligible for early intervention services. In Colorado, these programs are at no cost and can provide therapies and support services tailored to your child's needs. This might include orientation and mobility training, development of social and daily living skills, and other specialized services.
Click HERE to contact Early Intervention Colorado.
#4. Discuss Educational Planning
Begin to think about your child's educational needs. This may include specialized educational settings, integration into mainstream schools with support, or a combination of both. Understanding your child's rights to an appropriate education under laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the United States can be beneficial. Ask your EI-TVI about the Expanded Core Curriculum to begin building the foundation of skills that sighted children learn by observing the world around them.
#5. Build Your Support Systems
Look for support groups for parents of children with visual impairments. Connecting with other families who are going through similar experiences can provide emotional support, practical advice, and valuable resources.
#6. Review Your Home Environment
Discuss with your EI-TVI how to make your home a supportive environment for your child. This can include ensuring safety, using high-contrast colors for easier visibility, organizing your space consistently, and incorporating tactile markers to help your child navigate their surroundings.
#7. Promote Independence
#8. Access Resources
Investigate resources available through local, state, and national organizations dedicated to supporting individuals with visual impairments. These organizations can offer a range of services, from providing information and resources to offering financial assistance for adaptive technologies. Scan our curated "Document Library" and our Websites links to other valuable organizations.
#9. Consider Technology and Adaptive Tools
Your EI-TVI can help you explore technology and tools designed to assist very young children with visual impairments. From specialized apps to adaptive books and toys, there are many products available that can enhance learning and daily life. Check out our teachers' "Gift Ideas" with some their favorites for very young children.
#10. Stay Current
Recognize that your child's needs may change over time. Continue to stay informed, seek out resources, and advocate for your child as they grow and their needs evolve. Review our monthly digital "Newsletter" for interesting stories and activities for you and your children.
Remember, you're not alone. Along with our teachers from A Shared Vision, there are many families and professionals available to support you and your child through this journey. It's okay to seek help and take things one step at a time.