The cause of the vision impairment should not be the first topic of discussion. However, you should be attuned to this issue since the time and circumstances surrounding the origin may affect the child. Was the vision impairment from birth or did it occur more recently?  Has the family had time to make necessary adjustments around the child’s needs or are these still being negotiated? Did the vision impairment occur through an accident, disease process, birth complications? A teen who was the victim of an accident caused by a friend’s careless driving will have different emotional issues to face than the youngster who is blind from birth due to maternal health problems. How severe is the vision impairment? Can the student see in a limited way or is there total blindness? Is the loss progressive? Again, these factors can influence the way you as a counselor approach the topic.

Suggestions:

  • Have the parents fill out a background information form so you can have the history of the child’s vision impairment before the initial meeting. This will prepare you for the way you approach counseling. If the loss of vision was recent, you may need to bring basic information for support services in the community. This will also give you an opportunity to read about any medical conditions with which you are unfamiliar.
  • Although you will want to wait until the initial meeting to establish goals for the counseling, the history will provide some possible issues to explore. In advance, you might research materials to use with younger children who may need some “prompting.”  For example, even if stories do not include individuals with vision impairments, literature that describes youngsters dealing with challenges may be useful.
  • Information about the degree of usable vision is critical since you can prepare the counseling environment with appropriate materials. Toys that involve senses other than the visual, such as clay or musical instruments, may be especially appealing to the student who is very restricted in vision.