“There are things known and there are things unknown and in between are the doors of perception” – Aldous Huxley
One by one we open these doors, learning about our world based on what we perceive through them as we make our way down the hall towards knowing. The doors are many, and some need to be stepped through over and over. I have heard and read over the years that 75%-90% of our learning as a child is through vision. That means the vast majority of our perceptions, leading to our knowing, is due to what we see around us.
Cody’s perceptions, leading to his knowing and understanding, come from his senses of hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. What a small sighted child first sees in one glimpse, will take repeated exposure and explanation, within context and with creativity and sometimes great difficulty before Cody will begin to grasp what this sighted child saw in that moment. And even then, due to how Cody perceives, his understanding and knowledge will always be different…different in a way those of us with sight could never understand. We as sighted people may never believe his understanding of a bird taking to flight, or the grandness and shape of a mountain, or the vastness of the sea could be adequate or complete without the benefit of sight, but then again…is there a “right” way to understand? Is there a “right” way to perceive?
I showed Cody today how the rest of us were decorating Easter eggs. He was so excited to come to the table and help. As soon as he felt the hard boiled egg, he started to become very upset. When Cody is upset, he bounces up and down on his seat, bites his hand and screams. Often this reaction means his expectations were not met and he is trying to regulate himself in order to deal with this dichotomy. I always then mentally list the possible unmet expectations. Often I don’t realize what it is until much later, or even another day. It took me about 8 hours or so to figure out what it was today. I realized I used the word “Easter egg”…”Cody, do you want to come help us decorate Easter eggs?”. To Cody, “Easter egg” so far has really only meant one thing; the plastic pull apart colourful eggs you buy to be filled with candy and hidden during an Easter egg hunt. Therefore, to Cody, “Easter egg” means “chocolate or candy”. Peeling the hard boiled egg and putting some salt on it to have him eat it did not help either…hard boiled egg and chocolate are really not comparable!
With a battery operated beeper placed beside each large plastic egg to act as a sound cue, Cody was able to search around the backyard later and find his true “Easter eggs”!