White cane day/ blind awareness month part one on blindness and comfort level with asking, it’s ok to ask and ok to not get an answer

Ok everyone! Have been really looking forward to writing this post and I hope a lot of people read it.

So as you may or may not know, I’m totally blind with the exception of some light perception. Which means I can see light, when the sun is out going out into the sun from inside does hurt/ startle my eyes just like the rest of sighted people. My parents claim I used to see shadows and that the big uncomfortable glasses I wore for years til I was like eight, were to “help me practice my vision.” Which I still don’t get. There is a nice picture of mewith long hair and glasses which people say looks cute.

I was born at 23 weeks I believe. Spent forever finishing growing into a baby in the incubator. The lights there/too much oxygen caused the retinas at the back of my eye to detach. Apparently this wasn’t noticed til I was six months old, so technically I wasn’t “born blind” but that’s a lot to explain to people.

If you’re interested here’s a link on retinopathy or prematurity.

https://nei.nih.gov/health/rop/rop

Links will add to my little presentation and likely explain some things more articulately than I can especially stuff I’ve just done all my life, or ya know other stuff.

So this is my explanation of how I became blind/ what I can see. I said all that above. But just a word on that, that every single blind/visually impaired person has a different diagnosis. Or reasons they became blind. Some people were born blind, or lopst their sight as children. Others lost it later in life. Not all blind people are older people who just happened to be losing their sight due to age.

The ROP link is on the national eye institute which sounds like a pretty solid site. If you’re feeling ambitious take a look at all the different eye conditions. . I am not feeling ambitious, so am not going to post links. But just remember everyone has different reasons for their blindness so not to assume.

In addition, everyone has a different comfort level with talking about their blindness just as they would with any disability or other condition. I was raised to not shy away from questions and always answer honestly. So people wouldn’t feel afraid to ask, and so that there isn’t that awkwardness. I was at a center for the blind and I was in, and witnessed a group counseling session (a common lesson in the group counseling process) where they role played introducing yourself to a stranger and literally being like,”Hey I’m sam. Just so you know I’m totally blind. Nice to meet you.”

I don’t think this is something I’d be comfortable with literally in whatever context just announcing I’m blind like in the same sentence as saying hi. But the woman who lead the group is visually impaired, and it’s obviously something the place values as they were sure to demonstrate it the times I was there so some people obviously are comfortable with it. I think at any place for the blind exploring people’s personal prefferences/ thoughts/ feelings on all aspects of being blind is key. Unfortunately this as far as I know doesn’t happen at these places but that’s a whole other post!

So while I’m very open about talking about my blindness and how it affects me others are not. I have a friend who is a private person and feels that any questions about t their blindness especially what her their eye condition is are very intrusive. It’s not something they feel comfortable talking about, they have other medical conditions and feel that just as they wouldn’t share right away about those they don’t feel comfortable sharing on their blindness. Until they really get to know the person. They’ve encountered a lot of questions not just from sighted people but also other blind people as there is an unwritten expectation that we share our reasons for being blind on first meeting. But everyone has their own comfort level. That doesn’t mean the question was offensive or wrong. It just means that they don’t want to answer and that’s up to them. People who hold back are probably the healthier ones! I literally told complete strangers on paratransit this week all about my mental illness why I came to Chicago like everything. Answered every question thrown at me. That’s just me. When I want to talk people’s ear off I take any chance I get. I had just spent a couple hours sitting still in a quiet environment where I wasn’t talking really much and so I was very antsy.

I’d actually like to stop here cause this is getting long and crazy. And my computer needs a restart. So will do part two on things such as braille, mobility, technology for the blind etc

Check out my blog

matterstosam.wordpress.com

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6 thoughts on “White cane day/ blind awareness month part one on blindness and comfort level with asking, it’s ok to ask and ok to not get an answer

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