A Mother’s Reflections on Parenting a Child with a Visual Impairment

Authors: LaQuesa Wright, Mother of a Student with a Visual Impairment

Keywords: low vision, self-determination, parenting, support, advocacy, independence

Abstract: The author, a parent of a child with low vision, reflects on her experiences raising her daughter to become an independent young adult. Kevin Markel, Program Specialist for Transition with the Texas Workforce Commission, also discusses Demetria’s transition journey in his article in the News and Views section of this issue, “Transition Success Requires a Solid Foundation.”

My name is LaQuesa Wright. I am a mother of three. Demetria Ober is my 22-year-old daughter who was born with a rare eye condition called Congenital Maculopathy. Unfortunately, we were unaware of her visual impairment until she was ten years old. As a child, Demetria was your everyday curious, playful, happy kid. There were no signs of a visual impairment. She was always a straight-A student; she played with her sister and all of the other kids and just did all of the average kid things. Now that we know she is visually impaired, as I look back, I do think there were signs. As a parent, I didn’t want to believe that my child had any imperfections.

As Demetria was growing up as a young child with low vision, I had high expectations for her ultimate goal of independence. As my middle child, she was expected to clean, maintain daily responsibilities, and function in the same way that I expected my other two children. I wouldn’t say it was harder raising a child with a visual impairment, although I must admit that she required more of my attention. I felt it was my job to instill in her ample confidence so that she would grow up to understand that for her, the sky was the limit. I wanted to show her how to adapt things that would make life a bit easier for her and allow her to live an independent life. I gave her tough love when necessary and held her accountable just like my other children.

There was a moment when I felt that Demetria was battling depression. It just seemed as if she was stuck in a bubble and struggling to find herself. I truly believe that sending her to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) in the 8th grade helped her to come into herself. I saw a different Demetria during her time at TSBVI. She began getting involved in theater, became a star athlete, and seemed more vibrant than I have ever seen her. Getting that support from TSBVI, the staff, and its teachers that took us in as family is an experience that we will never forget and are so grateful for.

I would say the best advice I received about rearing Demetria is to try to be understanding even though you will never understand and also to try to understand that things may be harder but not impossible. You must trust your child. Demetria is the one that convinced me to allow her the opportunity to be independent. She’s way stronger than me and braver. She is experiencing something that if it were me, I don’t know if I could be as strong as she is. Being visually impaired doesn’t hold her back or stop her. Instead, it motivates her and gives her drive and purpose. I remember that I would ask her VI teachers what I could do as a parent to make life easier for her. They would respond, “Just keep doing what you’re doing—be a mother.” To me, being a mother is being Demetria’s number one fan that motivates her when she feels down about herself. I try to always be there and help her out of those times. I always said that I would be better than my parents, and I don’t hold anything back. Even if I make wrong decisions, I never try to justify them. I have given Demetria the opportunity to have a voice with me and express her opinions so that she can feel comfortable about advocating for herself. I am in no way a perfect mother, but I try. Demetria is that perfect side of me. She has done way more than me. She pushed me to travel and to want more for myself. Being the first college student in our family, she will be graduating in the spring of 2023 from Texas Woman’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a medical Spanish interpretation minor. This year, 2021–2022, Demetria is studying abroad in Granada, Spain, and learning Spanish. After graduation, she is planning on attending graduate school. She truly motivates me every day. Demetria has exceeded my expectations for her life. I knew she was destined for greatness, but I did not think it would be this extreme.

I have learned that It doesn’t matter what you are going through in life; it’s the support, love, and attention that help. You have to instill confidence, love, and intelligence in the home. If you don’t start there, how will they know and be able to reciprocate? You can’t keep your child in a box. You have to support and push them. I have to think that one day I won’t be there, so I have to do what I can to support her and make her comfortable with doing things without me. You have to teach your children to see their potential. I was hard on Demetria and was never quiet about anything. Also, I always remind myself that her visual impairment is not my fault. As a parent, I struggled with coming to terms with this. I blamed myself for my child’s impairment, and I always asked myself, “Why?” I know now that there is nothing I could have done to change this, and it’s true that the strongest soldiers get dealt the toughest battles. I have forgiven myself through the strength of my daughter, and that has been my greatest gift.

Today, I can honestly say I am such a proud mom. I believe Demetria is beyond a regular kid in my eyes. She is so young and knows who she is as a person. I believe she was put on this earth to be something great and successful. I see her purpose even when I struggle to see my own at times. My daughter is the most kind, humble, helpful, positive, and diverse person you would ever meet. My favorite quality that she possesses is that she does not believe in judgment. She always wants to see the good in everyone and everything, and she always puts others before herself. I am very grateful that I have a child that took in all of the things I poured into her, and she is a living testimony who is now blazing her own way into adulthood to make a difference in the world.

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