[blindkid] recess and social interaction

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Wed Jun 2 02:27:01 UTC 2010

Up with geeks! <g>


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Heather" <craney07 at rochester.rr.com>
To: "NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)" 
<blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 3:22 PM
Subject: Re: [blindkid] recess and social interaction

> Ok, this is not going to go over well, but here goes.  There is an ackward 
> and painful period that hits around now, between second and fourth grade, 
> in which children shift gears from one stage of social interaction to 
> another.
>>From infancy to around grade two or three children observe differences
> objectively and indifferently, Johny is black, Cindy is blind, Amy has 
> long hair, Ronda has two daddies, Emily is deaf, etc.  It doesn't make 
> them more or less likely to interact with them.  It is the most honest and 
> wonderful time because they are not afraid of differences, are not cruel, 
> not intentionally cruel and are not fake, giving false sympathy and so on. 
> If a child is normally a bully and hits the other children, they will hit 
> your blind child and your child will learn when to fight back and when to 
> call an adult and how to cope and talk out problems.  If a child is a 
> helper they will want to help your blind child with everything, but they 
> will also be wanting to help the other children with everything, so your 
> child will not feel singled out by their attentions.  If a child is a 
> hugger they will run up and hug your blind child, just like every child 
> and your child will learn about personal space and comfort levels and 
> unconditional positive regard. Then there are a few dark years when 
> children's experiences, their famlies, communities and the media start to 
> tell them that skin colour and ability level and socioeconomic status 
> matter.  This is when children will begin to ignore, tease or fear your 
> blind child.  In the best case scenereo they will tease them, because at 
> least then your child can fight back with witty words, or physically, 
> minor squabbles amung children under ten are developmentally normative and 
> healthy if they do not escelate.  Or next best case they fear your child, 
> because that can be overcome with time and logic. But, the worst case is 
> ignoring them.  With no confrontation, as provided by taunting and teasing 
> and no logically unsound ideation to be overcome, the blind child can do 
> little to gain the interest of the other children. Teachers interfearing 
> may make it worse as sighted children begin to feel pressured to play with 
> the blind child, and resentment will grow from that. There is light at the 
> end of the tunnel.  Around fifth or sixth grade children begin to devide 
> into clicks, in large relatively diversafied clicks this is a good thing, 
> I.E. the jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the theatre freaks, etc.  This is 
> when children seek out friends not based purely on proximity, as 
> preschoolers do, and not merely based on socially percieved norms, as in 
> elementary school, but they begin, around junior high or middle school to 
> seek out friends based on common interests and tallents.  Your child will 
> be best served to take their interests and passions and personality and 
> natural abilities and cultivate them now, and when their peers maturity 
> advances, they will gravitate towards them.  It will be rough, and your 
> child may have only one good friend for much of their school career or a 
> very small, but very close nit circle of friends, and I, personally think 
> this is a good thing.  It is more realistic and more genuine.  I had three 
> very close friends in high school, where most other girls had large 
> circles of twenty or more "friends" but in a chrisus, my friends were 
> always there for me and I for them, whereas these other girls were lucky 
> to have one friend out of twenty "friends" who would really care about 
> what was going on with them and help them.  The blind adults who are 
> alone, depressed, or who settle for friends and life partners who are 
> below their motivation, achievement, education, intelectual level, etc, 
> are the ones who gave in to the loneliness that can set in during 
> childhood in the transition from unconditional, immature, but so sweet ant 
> inocent relationships, to meaningful, deeper friendships in the higher 
> grades.  If she has good familial supports, as it sounds like she has, and 
> as long as there is lots of communication, and you watch for signs of 
> giving up, and intentional isolation to avoid rejection, she will weather 
> the storm.  For now, help her find her self, so that when her sighted 
> peers finally "grow up" and do away with the natural and unavoidable 
> self-centeredness and shallowness that is an inevadable step in the social 
> progression, she will be a well-rounded, interesting, self motivated 
> person who will captivate them.  She will make life long friends on the 
> math team, at a horseback riding class, in orchestra, in the backpacking 
> club, at a cat show, at a concert, etc, not on the playground.  Have her 
> pick something meaningful for her to do during ressess.  If she likes 
> swinging, then she should head over, snag a swing and swing to her heart's 
> content and ignore the children who are ignoring her, and one day a girl 
> or boy who enjoys swinging as much as she does will come and join her. 
> Or, if she likes music then she should bring a discman or an MP3 player 
> and enjoy some good music.  Bring a yoga mat and do positions on her own, 
> bring an art project outside, jog around the track, if there is one and 
> she has a system, etc.  You can't force friendships, but if she displays 
> confidence in who she is and what she likes, she will be the weird kid who 
> does X Y or Z to most of the kids and the cool girl who does X Y or Z no 
> matter what everyone else thinks, to a smaller group who will gain 
> confidence in themselves and then become her friends when they catch up to 
> her in maturity.  In both cases which will both manifest to some degree 
> depending on her own unique style and personality, she will always be on 
> the raydar, not some obscure blind girl remembered in conversation for her 
> blindness.  She will be mentioned for always having all sorts of music 
> with her to listen to at ressess, or always reading books a few grade 
> levels above, por always having the T-shirts with world wildlife 
> federation on them, or something else that is her, not her disability.  I 
> hope that was helpful.  It's not to say that she won't have any friends at 
> this age, but be prrepared for the worst, hope for the best, and what you 
> will get will probably be in between.  I've written several papers on this 
> theory for various classes, and I'd be happy to talk more with you about 
> it off list if you think this would be helpful.  Have a great day and tell 
> her that Jeremy, my 22 month old and I both send hugs her way.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Joy Orton" <ortonsmom at gmail.com>
> To: "NFB Blindkid list" <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 3:51 PM
> Subject: [blindkid] recess and social interaction
>> Dear Friends, (sorry, this is pretty long)
>> Please help us with your ideas and experiences. Our daughter Ahbee is in
>> third grade (for one more week), and is having trouble with recess. She
>> often does not have anyone to play with or spend her recess with. She 
>> just
>> walks around by herself for most of the time. Sometimes one  or more
>> children will come to her and invite her to join them in what they are
>> doing, but not always. She has sometimes asked her classmates in advance 
>> of
>> recess to play with her. One girl said yes, but then did not play with 
>> her
>> and said, "I couldn't find you."
>> During recent conversations she has said this has been going on for two
>> years, or specifically, "Since Jacey moved."
>> Jacey is a girl from China who was adopted at age 5 by a family who lived
>> near us. Ahbee (who was adopted at age 4 from China)  and Jacey spent
>> kindergarten (half of one year and all of the repeated year) and first 
>> grade
>> together, but then Jacey's family moved to another school district. They 
>> had
>> in common that they had been adopted from China as young children, not
>> infants, and that they repeated that kindergarten class. They were very 
>> good
>> friends.
>> Last year, in second grade, Ahbee was "not playing with anyone" at 
>> recess,
>> and I learned about it from another mom whose child was apparently having
>> some similar issues. We got the two together for one or two play dates. I
>> also spoke with the classroom teacher and TVI about it, and I thought 
>> they
>> were watching for problems.
>> This year, I asked early in the school year, and I thought things were 
>> going
>> better. We had some problems with gym class as well, and those have been
>> addressed by assigning children to be Ahbee's helpers during gym. The
>> helpers rotate or take turns. But apparently there is still a big issue 
>> with
>> recess, and it is starting to cause enough pain that Ahbee is bringing it
>> up.
>> So, I have a couple of concerns or questions.
>> First, how can Ahbee find people to play with at recess, and how can we
>> facilitate that?
>> Second, how can I make sure that the teachers are observing and letting 
>> me
>> know how she is doing? I don't want this problem to continue for another
>> year!
>> Looking forward to your responses.
>> Joy Orton
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