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, it is has a metal “glide” tip. This glides if you are in a shopping mall, but not out and about on the average UK pavement. Ronan liked to hold it, but soon got frustrated as it caught in crooks and crags on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the tip of the cane.
We then tried an Ambutec foldable cane with marshmallow tip ordered from the Royal National Institute for the Blind store. This was heavy and Ronan wouldn’t touch it. We were then recommended an Ambutec kiddie cane made of solid graphite with a ceramic tip. It was better than the previous one, reasonably light and glided, but Ronan couldn’t stand the substantial grip. He always held the cane below the grip and abandoned it a few meters past the door.
And then we found the right one. Recommended by Daniel Kish, we got a Svarovsky OR F5 C material composite, folding, wooden handle, nylon solid tip. (Can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). It was super light and had a tip that did glide. The ability to fold it meant that I could put it in my pocket when Ronan had decided he’d had enough. It was an instant success. While the timing might have been right, Ronan’s hands really matured just after turning three, I’m sure the comfort of using this cane was important too. Daniel Kish and Joseph Cutter both recommend that canes should be the length of the child (and not below their nose). This is different than the standard mobility teaching in the UK.
Other canes we tried included an adult cane that I used with Ronan holding on at the bottom and a roller cane for Ronan. Neither of these were popular with Ronan, but other children do like them.