Saturday, December 28, 2013

Age-Appropriate Skills

I read recently that a video of a four-year-old blind kid went viral on social media. Okay, first of all, don't get me started on "inspiration porn" where people pass around pictures of cute little disabled kids in order to get a little feel-good rush. Makes me a little crazy. That's actually not what I'm writing about today, though. In this video, what do you suppose this cute little blind boy is doing? He's STEPPING OFF A CURB. For the first time. Really. That's it. I'm not even kidding.

That's not inspirational, people; that's sad! Stepping off a curb is a skill that eighteen-month old kids can master, not four-year-olds.

When people talk about blind kids having age-appropriate skills, this is what they are talking about. Let's quit oohing and aahing over this kid stepping off the curb. Let's give him the freedom to run, to jump, to skateboard, to climb. The only thing holding him back is his parents holding hand too much, and society expecting him to crawl rather than fly.

What should a four/five year old blind kid BE doing?

How about hiking!

Using an escalator.

Walking downtown, leading the pack (which means knowing the route).

Crossing the street and taking a turn pushing the "walk" button.

Jumping on the trampoline.

Sledding. By herself.

Exploring new playground equipment.

Now, I don't post these to brag on Abi. (Well, I am a mom. Of course I am bragging on Abi!) These activities aren't inspirational; they're normal!  I post them to try to blow a few low expectations out of the water. I'd love to see every blind kid running around, using the tools that he or she needs and getting the exercise and experiences that their sighted friends get. It's not at all in the realm of impossible. It's more in the realm of necessary.

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