[blindkid] Those Amazing Inspiring Blind People

melissa R green graduate56 at juno.com
Thu May 30 14:50:34 UTC 2013


I was one of those kids that stopped doing things because I felt that people 
wanted me to do it because I was blind.
I liked playing the piano.  But I wouldn't do it because I was supposed to 
be doing it because I was blind.
that was just one of a few things I stopp or balked at doing, or not putting 
a lot of effort in to it because I had got the message that blindness made 
it good for me to do this.
Sincerely,
Melissa and Pj
"Forever is composed of nows." -Emily Dickinson
facebook Melissa R Green
Linkedin www.linkedin.com/in/melissagreen5674
skype: lissa5674

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Arielle Silverman" <arielle71 at gmail.com>
To: "Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)" 
<blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: [blindkid] Those Amazing Inspiring Blind People


Hi all,

Very interesting comments. I am sure it is hard to watch your kids
lose interest in doing things they are talented at because they are
afraid of being overpraised. There is some fascinating research on
children's responses to positive feedback and how praise can be
redirected to cultivate achievement. For example, it is better to
praise a child's effort rather than their innate ability. So if they
get a 100 on a test, it's not because they're so smart, but because
they studied really hard. The problem with ability praise ("you're so
smart") is that kids start to see a connection between their successes
(or failures) and their innate ability. If success means I'm smart,
then failure must mean I'm dumb. On the other hand, effort-based
feedback communicates to kids that their successes or failures are
more under their control, that they will be rewarded with praise for
trying hard and that if they fail at something, they can recover from
the failure by putting forth more effort the next time. I suspect that
blind kids (and kids with disabilities in general) tend to be given
more ability-based praise and criticism than nondisabled kids. That
might explain why some of your kids resist praise but then are averse
to the possibility of failing. Gifted blind kids might get so much
ability praise that they come to mistrust it and, ironically, start to
doubt their abilities if they fail at something.
There is also some research on expert tutors, which shows that some of
the best tutors praise their students very rarely, yet still bring out
their students' motivation and help them to excel in a subject. Your
kids who hate being praised might really benefit from working with a
private music teacher who takes a tough, no-nonsense approach and only
praises really big accomplishments. Competition could also be a good
way for them to get accurate feedback on their talents and to keep
them challenged rather than just being unconditionally praised.

Arielle

On 5/29/13, Carol Castellano <carol_castellano at verizon.net> wrote:
> Arielle,
>
> We have experienced these same issues, as I'm sure most on this list
> have.  I remember once entering both my kids (1 blind, 1 sighted) in
> a wolf-howling contest at our local zoo.  I think Serena was maybe 6
> or 7 and John was 3 or 4.  Serena was a terrible howler, but what do
> you think--they gave her the prize.  Well, she was young enough not
> to realize that she was given that prize because she was blind, but I
> sure knew.  That day began a series of conversations about where each
> of us stands in terms of talents and abilities compared to the
> general society and why someone might give a blind person an
> undeserved prize.  It wasn't easy for me  to deflate my poor baby's
> bubble--I had to do it gently--but I knew how important it was for
> her to realize what was going on--and what would continue to go on
> throughout her life, if she let it.
>
> I think it's the one about courage that really gets, me, though.  One
> of the reasons sighted people think blind people are courageous is
> that they feel they would be really scared if they had to move
> through the world without their eyesight.  They never stop to think
> that blind kids--especially those blind from birth--are just living
> their lives, growing and learning every day, not experiencing undue
> fear, and certainly not making constant comparisons to having
> eyesight, the way sighted people are.  And sighted people also seldom
> know about the skills and tools that blind people learn and use to go
> through life competently and knowledgeably.  They think blind people
> are out in the world without a clue, so they think it takes courage
> to live as a blind person.  Grrrrrr.
>
> Carol
>
> Carol Castellano
> Parents of Blind Children-NJ
> Director of Programs
> National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
> 973-377-0976
> carol_castellano at verizon.net
> www.blindchildren.org
> www.nfb.org/parents-and-teachers
>
> At 11:22 PM 5/28/2013, you wrote:
>>Hi all,
>>On the NFB student list we have gotten into a discussion about how to
>>handle comments from the public about how amazing, inspiring, and
>>courageous we are for doing ordinary things. I shared some of my
>>experiences with this growing up and how it made me feel  about myself
>>and my abilities, and wanted to repost my remarks to this list as
>>well, since it might be informative for parents. I don't think my
>>parents realized how these kinds of well-intentioned comments affected
>>me.
>>
>>Hi all,
>>I think some great points have been made here. When someone tells me I
>>am amazing or inspiring or courageous or whatever, I don't like it
>>because it implies a lower standard. There's always part of that
>>compliment that goes unstated: "You're amazing......For a blind
>>person". It's really a backhanded insult to other blind people, even
>>though it may not be intended that way. Also, I don't like being told
>>that I must have overcome great obstacles or that I must have great
>>perseverance and passion to get to where I am today, because I don't
>>think that's true. My blindness hasn't interfered much with my
>>educational achievements and compared with many others my life has
>>been over-privileged. When people make these assumptions I feel they
>>are judging me based on blindness without knowing much else about me,
>>my upbringing or anything I've done.
>>I also think that the "amazing" comments are particularly tough on
>>blind youth who also happen to be high achievers. It's hard to know
>>how to interpret these comments and when we are truly amazing vs. just
>>exceeding people's low standards. And sometimes, being an inspiration
>>is just too much extra pressure when our lives are already filled with
>>a lot of internal and external demands.
>>When I was growing up, I got used to these accolades because my
>>parents had many friends who would marvel at my accomplishments. When
>>I was young I was often asked to show off my Braille reading for
>>company and this just completely blew people away. Then as I grew I
>>was a high achiever in school and won some awards for spelling bees
>>and things like that. They deserved recognition, but probably not to
>>the level that I got. One night when I was ten, I wrote down some
>>musings about how I felt about blindness and dealing with sighted
>>kids. My mother ran across my writing on the family computer and
>>through a random string of events, what I wrote got published in our
>>local paper. Then when I was eleven, a magazine editor read the
>>newspaper article and was so amazed and inspired that she asked me to
>>write a column for her magazine. This of course only compounded
>>people's awe and amazement in what I could do, since not only was I
>>blind but I was also famous. It took several years, but I eventually
>>realized that I wasn't an amazing writer. I was a decent writer, but
>>not particularly outstanding at it, and not good at fiction or poetry
>>at all. The only reason people were so impressed with my writing was
>>because I wrote about blindness and that was a topic that intrigued
>>people. I had to get a lot of painful criticism on my writing before I
>>eventually realized I wasn't as outstanding as those folks made me out
>>to be. Around the time I came to that epiphany, I also began to resent
>>all the accolades. I remember thinking, at the age of fifteen, that
>>"adults always treat me like I'm five and fifty at the same time. But
>>I just want to be a normal 15-year-old girl!" I felt like on one hand,
>>I was being held to an impossibly high standard--expected to be an
>>amazing writer, an inspiration to all--and on the other hand, held to
>>an extremely low standard--expected not to be capable of basic
>>independence. People would praise my writing but then worry about my
>>ability to walk across a room. I just wanted to blend into the crowd
>>of teenagers and gossip about boys and clothes (well, mostly just
>>boys) instead.
>>Then, at the end of ninth grade, I "accidentally on purpose" failed my
>>algebra final and earned my first B on my report card. There were some
>>problems on the final that were hard and I didn't feel like answering
>>on the last day of school, so I skipped them. I didn't intend to
>>fail--I think I just got a little overconfident about my ability to
>>earn straight A's. But I also wonder if on a less conscious level, I
>>bombed the test so I could prove to myself and others that I was a
>>human being and I was capable of screwing up--and not always an
>>inspiration. Just a week before that final exam, I remember my algebra
>>teacher admitting that he had doubted my ability to pass his class at
>>the beginning of the year, but that he was totally impressed with my
>>performance. I remember being angry at him for assuming I wouldn't
>>succeed in his class just because I was blind. And so perhaps,
>>ironically, I failed his test to try to show him I wasn't amazing, I
>>wasn't a superhero, I was just a normal teenager doing the best I
>>could to succeed in school.
>>OK, enough rambling about my childhood, but I do think that the
>>unnecessary recognition we get from the public can be just as damaging
>>as true discrimination, especially when we are young and trying to
>>figure out where our true talents are. None of us should be forced
>>into the position of inspiring others. As first-class citizens, we
>>have the right to achieve at the level we wish to achieve at, and we
>>have a right to accurate feedback about how well we're doing at
>>something. Fortunately, as others have stated, there are sighted folks
>>with high expectations who are willing to hold us up to rigorous
>>standards and to give us a true picture of our strengths and
>>weaknesses.
>>Best,
>>Arielle
>>
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