Being told that your child is blind or partially sighted can be devastating for both child and parents alike and it can be hard to cope with the news.  Luckily, help is on hand to help children and parents come to terms with the news.

Gill Levy, is a specialist support worker in Tower Hamlets and looks at how visual impairment will affect different aspects of a child’s life and then help them and their family adapt accordingly.

Here Gill shares a couple of stories about children she has helped:

‘I’m in touch with a child who has balance problems due to his VI.  Like any young child he is active and won’t stay still.  This causes problems for his personal safety, especially as they live in a block of flats and have to negotiate four flights stairs. His mum has real problems getting him to wait at the bottom of the stairs while she rushes back up to fetch her baby in its pushchair.  It’s not a good situation, and I have organised supporting letters from doctors for the family to be re-housed as a medical emergency.

‘I also provide low vision sessions for families.  I demonstrate how the ‘big, bold and bright’ principles can be applied to ordinary family life.   I have a special suitcase, filled with glasses that roughly simulate different eye conditions, table-clothes, magnifiers and other bits and pieces.

‘I can show parents wearing the special glasses how it is easier to see big things, rather than small ones.   My collection of table-clothes help parents discover how clear outlines work for people with low vision – like a red plate on a white table-cloth.  They swiftly point out that the red plate on my spotted red table-cloth is harder to see, and then I get them looking for smarties on my elaborately-patterned table-cloth, so they see that it is hard to find things against busy backgrounds.’

Your donations have also helped to support the work of Dorton House School.  The nursery centre at Dorton House provides a comforting and exciting environment where tiny tots are encouraged to develop communication skills and the desire to learn and achieve.  The mum of Archie explains the benefits it has brought to him:

‘The teaching staff and therapists have performed minor miracles, enabling Archie not only to find his voice, but also to use it to express his own opinions.  We now hear all about Archie’s likes and dislikes, his friends and their activities, his favourite toys and pastimes and most importantly, why he has been naughty!’

Earlier this year, GLFB was also funded a special holiday for children with visual impairments. Here a couple of quotes from grateful parents and excited children:

‘Visually impaired children can feel disadvantaged and self-conscious when playing with their fully sighted peers at school so what should be fun and relaxing becomes quite stressful for them sometimes.  Learning new skills and having enjoyable experiences with other VI children makes them more confident and relaxed at having a go at new things.  My son feels he can just be himself and doesn’t have anything to prove, so he can just have fun.’

‘It was great fun to meet friends and make new ones. I loved doing a mixture of activities.’

‘Found a new talent for drumming!’