[blindkid] recess and social interaction

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Mon May 31 21:18:11 UTC 2010


You haven't told us what may perhaps be the most important datum: what do 
the other kids *do* at recess? Is there a playground? If yes, what kind of 
equipment is on it? If no and the kids play games outside, what sorts of 
games? Are they all sight-oriented? If so, how might Ahbee suggest that they 
be modified so that she could participate?

You will note how I phrased the last question. Although one can't be sure 
from a single message, your message below gives me the impression that Ahbee 
(or you; it's not clear wich) sort of expect that others will see to it that 
Ahbee is included. No criticism is meant by this observation. Certainly, 
there may need to be intervention to encourage integrated play. But in the 
last analysis (and though this may be hard to read), it will be up to Ahbee 
to engineer things so she's included -- not just now but for the rest of her 
life. It has been my experience that passivity and success as a blind person 
don't go together fairly well. This is obviously hard for a child who is 
naturally not assertive or who feels different and left out. But no one ever 
said this world was an easy place. The payoff is that Ahbee may have some 
skills her erstwhile playmates may not have.

Oh yes -- have you personally observed recess? Teachers and/or school 
personnel may not like it but, frankly, if they're good, they won't mind and 
even if they are not, remember who is paying their salaries!

I'm sure Carol Castellano can give you the citation to a Future Reflections 
or Braille Monitor article by Fred Schroeder that detailed some of his 
experiences when supervising the program of special education for 
Albuquerque public schools. I think you'd find this article instructive and 
inspiring. It's the one where he describes how the elementary school kids 
were playing tag and a blind kid always ended up being "it" because he 
didn't know where to dodge to get out of the way. He asked Fred how to solve 
the problem. Fred wasn't sure and thought it might be one of those 
situations where blindness truly was an inconvenience. The next day, 
however, Fred came in to discover that the kid had brought a jar with 
pebbles in it and made the rule that the person who was "it" had to carry 
the jar which made noise. Problem solved -- not by the teacher but by the 

Might Ahbee not benefit from such thinking, that is, might both you and 
Ahbee not benefit from considering blindness as a series of problems to 
solve rather than as a burden?

As I say, please do not consider the foregoing as being critical. It's often 
kind of tough integrating into social activities when it seems to be the 
goal of everyone to be *exactlhy* like everyone else. I was lucky in that I 
never *cared* whether I was like everyone else and if kids didn't play with 
me, I figured it was *their* loss! (grin)

For all I know, all the kids are playing video games rather than doing 
something constructive. That puts Ahbee in a difficult spot. But she can 
always read and end up with the highest score in her class and be the one 
other kids come to when they want help figuring out how to ace the next 

None of this may be relevant; it's been fifty years since I was a kid. But 
surely things haven't changed all that much. If nothing else, this, too, 
shall pass; then you'll have to start worrying about whom Ahbee goes out 
with. (har)

Hope this helps and please keep us posted.


Mike Freeman, member
Board of Directors
National Federation of the Blind

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Joy Orton" <ortonsmom at gmail.com>
To: "NFB Blindkid list" <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 12:51 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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