April 4, 2012

Learning through your senses

Even though Funny Girl can't see, it's not stopping her from doing much.  Yesterday we went shopping at Target, got the girls haircuts, and she used the iPad (yes, you read that right) for a while.  She spent part of the afternoon walking around the house feeling to identify things.  She also went to the bathroom on her own all day (which requires the navigation of a baby gate that keeps the dog from eating cat litter.)

Her senses are heightened to help her.  When I took her to the doctor, she was identifying the type of flooring we were walking on, what she smelled, and heard.  If you tell her where her food is, she has no trouble eating.  She knew Dimples was chasing Geshtro around the house by the sound of them running past her.  She comes to talk to B and I by following our voices.  When she needs to rest she listens to the t.v.  The only thing she's gotten really confused about was which day it is and the time.  She did a lot of sleeping at first so she felt like several days had passed and isn't always sure if it's early or late.

I know people who are blind do all of these things.  What is interesting to me is how eager Funny Girl is to learn her surroundings in a new way.  I know she is in terrible pain and moving around is difficult.  Every time her eye moves against her eyelid, it hurts.  Try to close your eyes and not move them.  We've all tried to do that when trying to fool our parents into thinking we were asleep.  It's hard to keep them still even while lying down.  It's harder if you are moving around a familiar area and your eyes naturally move towards the things you know.  Yet none of this gets her down.  

A friend suggested that we do something fun like paint or read about someone who has lost their sight while she is recovering.  Fortunately we'd recently watched a video about Helen Keller, so she was already thinking about her.  We also talked about my cousin's wife who is blind.  Funny Girl didn't even realize she was blind though we'd spent a few days with them last summer!  At first I was feeling bad that I was so tired (fighting a terrible cough) and wasn't really taking advantage of the opportunity for teachable moments, but then I realized that I didn't need to!  The truth is that she was learning a very valuable lesson just by experiencing it.  I couldn't stop her from learning if I wanted to.  That's one of the main things about unschooling.  Kids learn all of the time, even when their parents aren't strewing them information.  It's a really fun process to watch if you can just trust it.  This experience is helping me as much as her.  It's also incredibly sweet how Dimples and Geshtro help her when they can by describing things to her and helping her around.  

A little side note about the trip for haircuts.  I explained to the woman cutting Funny Girl's hair that her eye could not be touched at all.  She was very understanding, in fact, she'd had a similar injury herself.  She told FG about a time when her chihuahua jumped on her face injuring her eye.  She told us about her fear that she'd never see again, but how it healed perfectly.  She also said she couldn't believe how brave FG was handling it without the contact bandaid.  She knew how much it hurt and didn't do well without the contact.  I think FG really felt reassured after talking to her.  A little later in the day she opened her eyes twice and could see!  She was so relieved that she had vision.  I expect things will be even better today.

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