Rody, Rody, don’t you stop!

Meet Rody, an inflatable horse (donkey). He is at once, a rocking horse, space hopper, climbing frame, airplane entertainer, seat on crowded subway, and Ronan’s best friend. Ronan first met Rody when he was 16 months old. We’d borrowed him from my brother when visiting. Now coming towards 3.5, Ronan still loves Rody. No matter where we are Ronan can get the movement that he needs, rocking back and forth or bouncing up and down. Rody has provided a productive outlet for Ronan’s need to rock, particularly in a confined space, like an airplane (yes – Rody fits in the … Read more

Choosing Ronan’s First Mobility Cane

Getting a cane seemed almost like a right of passage for Ronan into a world a freedom. A world in which he could be confident to go around as he pleased. He has been quite good at doing what he pleases for some time now, but mobility outside the house was a bit trickier. We tried quite a few canes before we got it right. The first cane we tried was from National Federation for the Blind (NFB) as recommended by Joseph Cutter in Independent Movement and Travel in Blind Children. It is extremely light with a small grip. However, … Read more

Computational Sciences for our Visually Impaired Kids

In September 2015, the UK introduced a new computing curriculum that spans from reception class to A level (ages 4 to 18). The curriculum aims to go beyond teaching children how to use computers, and help them learn to think like computational scientists. For example, children are prompted to learn how to solve problems with resource constraints. In our everyday world, that might be as mundane as how to feed oneself for a week on a particular budget. In a computational world, it will be solving problems such as how can one search billions of webpages on the internet in … Read more

Living in Harry Potter’s World

Despite our best efforts, Ronan’s world is like living with Harry Potter. People appear and disappear rather randomly. When something is required, he asks for it and it appears. Equally, if he drops something, it is gone forever. While I can imagine quite a few children who would find living with Harry Potter rather exciting, it leads to endless distress for Ronan. He tries never to put down something he wants, often holding multiple items with his hands, and a few more with his mouth or chin. Full blown tantrums are always waiting in the wings at any time we … Read more

The Unexpected Life of our Trampoline

Trampolines are great for children; they are great for blind children in particular. Many people had told us that. Charlotte has already posted a useful blog introducing Rebound therapy on a trampoline. What I had not quite appreciated were the ways in which the trampoline would become central to Ronan’s development over the past 6 months. We first came across a full-size trampoline in a park when visiting friends in a different part of the country. At just over 2 years old, Ronan wasn’t heavy enough to make the trampoline spring on its own. I took him in my arms … Read more

House as therapy toy

Ronan, like many blind children, needs the world made available to him to encourage normal development. Children at play develop mobility, hand grasp, and cognitive skills. As blind children have a different development path because of how the environment becomes available to them, they often need extra encouragement to engage in development activities. The various professionals involved in Ronan’s development have set us many tasks throughout the last year: opening and closing lids, twisting off tops, putting a single puzzle piece into a form, or matching textures. Ronan has never been one for playing with toys and he certainly does … Read more

I’m an independent traveller!

We have been strongly influenced by Joseph Cutter’s philosophy on mobility for blind children. He proposes that one of the key aspects of mobility in blind child is getting them to think of themselves as independent travellers — people who guide themselves rather than are guided by somebody else. This goes against most standard advice which focuses on teaching children to follow a sighted guided. As we see mobility as one of the prime enablers for Ronan to do what he wishes in life, helping him see himself as an independent traveller has become a big focus of our efforts … Read more

The Sense of a Horse

We decided to try horse riding to see if that might calm Ronan’s urge to rock. With some difficulty, we managed to find a person who approached the horse as a therapeutic engagement and was willing to work with Ronan at the tender age of 18 months. The experience was transformative. After nearly 15 minutes of screaming, Ronan took to the horse. At the end of the session, the therapist laid him with his head on the rump of the horse and he instantly fell asleep. Our therapist knew from this point that horses would be meaningful to Ronan. Throughout … Read more

Toilet Training Ronan

Toilet training is not really something that any parent looks forward to. It becomes even more complicated when a child is blind. Finding the toilet is a challenge; pointing to the toilet or self to indicate the need to go is not a possibility; language is often delayed so that makes communication around the toilet more challenged; motor skills can be delayed making pulling pants down more difficult; potty books and sticker rewards don’t work very well either! We, quite fortuitously, have avoided the majority of these difficulties through using a technique called Elimination Communication. At a Birth Yoga workshop, … Read more

Fighting for our Services

Shortly before Christmas we were told that there would be changes to the Sensory Service that we as parents felt would alter the provision our children had. We were given 4 weeks to comment. While everyone else was busy preparing for the Christmas holidays, those of us with a visually or hearing impaired child were having to get into campaign gear. While I cannot say I enjoyed it, I learned a few interesting things that I’d like to share. First, all local authorities are statutorily required to consult on their SEND provision. Consultations must include several options, and not just … Read more