RLSBGuest Post by RLSB

Every week, grandmother of two Sylvia makes the long 50-mile round trip to bring her 4 year-old granddaughter Zoe to one of the Royal London Society for Blind People’s parent and toddler groups for blind and partially sighted babies and toddlers.

Aniridia, the absence of irises, and Nystagmus, the uncontrolled to and fro movement of the eyes, mean that Zoe can’t fully see the world around her.


The journey might be long, but for Sylvia accessing the right support for her granddaughter makes it worth it.

‘Zoe receives occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, individual music as well as group music and mobility training every week. If we couldn’t reach RLSB’s services, she would instead only receive one hour of help every other week,’ Sylvia explains.

80% of learning in your early years is visual, so children with a sight condition need to learn the basics in a different way to help stop them falling behind their sighted peers.

To understand the significance of this early development, we have to fast forward a few years in the life of someone with sight loss.

The impact of sight loss on 11-year-olds-

The Sight Impairment at 11 report is a new piece of research published this week by RLSB and RNIB, in collaboration with NatCen Social research, which shows the impact of sight loss on children who are aged 11.

It underlines the fact that not being able to see fully, or at all, can have a major impact on every aspect of a child’s development and wellbeing.

By 11 most blind and partially sighted children are less confident than their sighted peers, find it harder to make friends, are more likely to be socially isolated, and are more likely to live in financial hardship.

Worryingly, their parents and teachers tell us that children with sight loss are twice as likely to be bullied or picked on by other children.

No child should have this reality to look forward to.

More must be done to stop this kind of victimization, so blind children don’t miss out on the very things that make childhood so important – security, friendship and a sense of self confidence.

Blind children need to learn how to live beyond their sight loss to beat the chances of being bullied in later life.

Teaching children and their parents how to adapt so they learn communication and social skills, how to be mobile and explore all help a child adjust to a world they can’t see. Making them more confident and resilient, which are essential to a happy childhood and being able to cope with difficulties of life later on.

Expanding early specialist support-

However, the importance of early years support for blind and partially sighted children in helping to develop resilience to cope with the difficulties that the research highlights should not be underestimated.

Children like Zoe need support from a young age; giving them the chance to flourish today so they don’t suffer tomorrow.

Zoe’s now attending a mainstream nursery, but she still attends the parent and toddler group once a week thanks to Sylvia’s support. ‘We do still hope new services will open closer to us, but until that time it is worth every mile to get there. We are delighted with Zoe’s progress,’ Sylvia says.

Unfortunately for many other families, the group is simply too far away.

Childhood sight loss is on the increase in the UK. There are over 7,000 blind children in London and the South East alone who require specialist services; and this demand will continue to rise.

As a result, RLSB urgently needs to open three new parent and toddler groups in 2015 so we can meet the demand and reach the blind children who desperately need us.

Without these services, these children won’t have the support they deserve or the helping hand they need in preparing them for a life of aspiration.

Can you help? Please support our appeal for new parent and toddler groups to give blind children the best start in life and help beat a reality of isolation and bullying.

Please do read Wry Mummy’s Post too HERE and consider DONATING HERE.

Thank you.

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12 Responses

  1. Kat | Beau Twins

    Such a great post to raise awareness. We know all too well in our family how hard having a disability effects you as a child. My brother has autism and my step dad is deaf. The support that is out there is amazing, just not enough of it. 50 miles is a very long way to travel. It shouldn’t be this way at all. Will check out the other post tomorrow. Xxx

    • honestmum

      Hi Kat, sorry to hear about your brother and step Dad but pleased they have support. You are right, 50 miles is far and I hope with greater support, access to much needed resources and support can be nearer in future x

  2. Ting at My Travel Monkey

    I had never heard of the RLSB before. 50 miles is such a long way to travel, but I’m sure Sylvie doesn’t see it that way as it’s such good therapy for Zoe. I hope more awareness is raised for such a good cause so other families will benefit.

    • honestmum

      Thanks so much for your comment, it is a long way but the benefits are huge, the RLSB are doing incredible work to help Zoe and so many other children in need of support x

  3. Amber

    Fifty miles – crikey. I’m glad that Zoe has her grandmother’s support and is able to access the group, but what a shame that it isn’t closer. It sounds as though the charity are doing excellent and much-needed work.

    • honestmum

      I know, really is a long way. The rlsb are doing an incredible job of providing emotional and financial support to so many. Thanks for commenting x

  4. Sharon Wormald

    Every respect to you Sylvia and much love to Zoe…ive acantonibia keratitis at the moment..it has made me realise how much we take sight for granted…blindness can happen to anyone at anytime. ..these support groups do an amazing job…I wish there was a nearer one for you…being a grandma myself I know how precious our grandchildren are…you are amazing Sylvia xox

    • honestmum

      It really can and it’s so important RLSB get all the support they can, they offer a vital life-changing service for so many, thanks for your comment and hope you are getting the right treatment and support x

  5. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    An amazing story about a great cause. What a lovely little girl Zoe is, and how fortunate she is to have such a fab grandmother, but children in need of such a vital service should not have to travel so far. Being a child can present challenges, being a child who is ‘different’ in some way presents more challenges…and on top of that being blind must present a whole new world of challenges. These children deserve the same chances to thrive and be successful as all children. xxx

    • honestmum

      I totally agree Leigh and it’s so hard they must travel, I hope the RLSB get the support they deserve, an incredible charity, thanks so much for your comment, means a lot x


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