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Summer 2001 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Off to a Good Start

By Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

I've "stolen" the title of this short paper from the Blind Babies Foundation in San Francisco. I was once their Executive Director, and I think they'll forgive me for using this title, which, I think, describes what we all want for our infants. Using such a descriptive title leaves me with the responsibility of providing some content that will be helpful to parents and teachers. This time, I want to talk directly to parents of babies and toddlers.

What do I want to say to parents of blind and visually impaired infants? First of all, I want to say to you that those of us who have not walked in your shoes have only the slightest idea of what it feels like, and what it is like, to be the parent of a blind child. It is, therefore, with much humbleness that I share with you the following thoughts:

Well, I could go on, but I think I'll stop now. Babies are precious - they deserve the very best we can give them. They don't know what they need - parents must know and offer the experiences, the love, and the caring required by a blind or visually impaired child. Parents won't always know what to do - they need a competent, creative teacher of the visually impaired or early childhood caseworker who knows early childhood growth and development to help them. So you see, the parent/child/professional team must begin when the child is an infant. There are so many essential learning and developmental experiences required by the blind baby that this partnership must begin as soon after diagnosis as possible.

Parents: Don't delay - find yourselves a qualified and creative expert in visual impairment right away!!

Teachers: Don't delay - if you're not feeling qualified to help parents through the critical growth period of birth to five, then find classes and readings that will prepare you for this crucial role.

Parents and Teachers - have fun with babies, and help babies to have fun with you and others!!

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Last Revision: September 2, 2003