I'm not blind, I can see with my ears!

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Many of us go through life taking sight and vision for granted. But what about those people that do not have eyes with which they can see? Perhaps there is another way in which these people can "see" the world around them. This is the case for a boy named Ben Underwood. ben underwood.jpgDue to cancer, Ben lost both of his eyes at the age of two. By the age of six, Ben started using "clicks" that he would produce with his mouth in order to "see" objects around him. Ben uses these clicks to bounce off of objects and then listen for the returning sound waves. By doing this, Ben is able to produce a mental picture in his head of the relative sizes, shapes, and locations of what is around him. Echolocation, as this phenomenon is called, is also used by animals such as bats and dolphins.

Ben's ability to use echolocation is just one of the many examples of how humans are able to concentrate more on one sense to compensate for the loss of another. I do not want to give the false impression that Ben has a superhuman sense of hearing. In fact, Ben's hearing is very similar to the range of an average human's. Rather, Ben has been able to concentrate more attention to his hearing capabilities to compensate for his loss of vision. This phenomenal ability allows Ben to participate in many activities he might otherwise not be able to enjoy such as karate and rollerblading.

If you are interested, you can watch a clip and read about Ben's amazing story if you click here.

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Stuff like this is truly amazing. It's incredible that our brains are able to compensate for deficiencies like vision loss the way they are and even more incredible that this kid is able to rollerblade and do karate! What an interesting story.

This story is interesting because it's amazing how he thought to use this technique and became successful when determining the objects around him. I have heard that those who are blind develop stronger hearing or smelling, but this shows that they don't have better senses, they just have to focus more on those senses in order to know what is around them. His use of echolocation is really cool.

This post is so interesting to read. It is sad to hear the boy lost his sight, but it is amazing to learn about the new strategy he used to see. It is so amazing that our brain can change and adapt for different situations. It is wonderful that he was able to compensate for his loss of vision by using ticks and his hearing.

This is honestly one of the most interesting blogs I have read so far. And after watching the video, I am truly amazed at what Ben can do after going blind at the age of two! I can not even begin to imagine how, just by making a clicking sound, someone can determine the relative size and shape of an object without the use of their eyes. This would be an interesting study to do to see if individuals who actually CAN see would be able to succeed in using this technique that Ben unknowingly figured out when he was just six years old. And the fact that he can hit someone with a pillow dead on or play Foosball with his friends is beyond miraculous to me.

The plasticity of our brains ia amazing. People who lose one of their senses through blindness, deafness, etc. do learn to compensate through a sharpening of their other senses. It is my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, that children's brains are more "plastic" so to speak than adults' brains. I think it would be interesting to see if there are other examples of people like Ben out there who developed blindness as an adult and not as a child.

I recall reading an article about echolocation a few years back. It didn't have an amazing story like ben's, just the research of an older gentleman that could see through his eyes. This article really makes me reconsider what we call "handicap" and "disabled" in our society. Generally, Ben would be seen as some who is handicapped, but just like his mother said, just because he can't see doesn't make him disabled. He found another way of seeing, something we would/possibly could never discover with the ability to see. It makes me wonder about other "disabilities" we have in the world, and ways people can over come them so they do not become "disabled". I really feel like most things can be overcome (of course no everything, for example mental disabilities are another thing), but because society is so fast to judge and pity, most never get the chance to over come their "disabilities" due to discouragement or bias. Just because someone functions differently physically or emotionally does not make them "handicapped" or "disabled". They're just different, aren't we all?

This reminds me of a TV advertisement for a children's hospital, stating that pity is 100% curable. it also reminds me of being amazed with Stevie Wonder as a child...a blind man playing the piano blew my mind. Endurance and determination are two attributes that many people could learn, especially from amazing individuals like Ben. People who have not only been through hardships but have had to learn how to adjust their life in order to make it enjoy basic advantages that others take for granted. Ben makes me feel that studying for my next PSY 1001 exam should not be that difficult. :)

I love this story. I had a blind cat that used "echolocation" to find her way through our house. It's so unfortunate that his cancer came back and lead to his death. It would be very interesting to study him more intensively.

It's amazing how Ben developed a strategy to help him "see" by using a strategy more widely associated with animals. We read in class how children's brains are able to compensate alterations more than adults. I think that losing his sight at a young age led him to adapt and develop skills that would help him overcome his disability.

I have seen a story like this before. It is so true that we take vision and hearing for granted. I can't imagine being with out those senses. It is truly amazing that they are able to function like that and adapt to those skills. Great post, this is very inspirational!

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This page contains a single entry by lauwa006 published on February 19, 2012 4:41 PM.

What can we learn from animals was the previous entry in this blog.

Left Handed? Then, Different Minds! is the next entry in this blog.

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