Children with visual disabilities often are delayed in their physical and motor skills. Often they will not be able to locate or pick up small objects that have been dropped. Helping children understand about space and size will further their development.
- sometimes or always crosses one or both eyes
- has eyes that won't focus
- avoids bright lights
- blinks or rubs eyes a lot
- stumbles or falls a great deal, trips over small objects
- covers one eye
- tilts head to side or to front
- squints or frowns a great deal
- complains of dizziness, headaches, or nausea after doing intense work
- is unable to locate and pick up small objects that have been dropped
- may turn face away when being addressed; does not mean inattentiveness, but rather may have better peripheral vision
- if partial vision is possible, may be able to see shadow forms, colour, or large pictures
- holds books or objects very close to her face
What you can do:
- Place sound-making objects (clocks, wind chimes, radio) in different parts of the house to help the child learn her way around.
- Encourage the child to find and sense different textures throughout the house: tile, carpet, wood, glass windows, plastered walls, marble counter top, etc.
- Look for toys and books with raised numerals, letters, or designs that children can touch and explore.
- Provide activities with sensory experiences. Children with visual disabilities learn through hearing and touch. Sand and water play, collages, play dough, and finger painting are good learning activities.
- Read aloud stories that have a predictable story line. You also may wish to choose stories that offer interesting descriptions of actions or objects.
- Follow up descriptions with concrete experiences. For example, after reading "The Three Little Pigs," the child might find it interesting to feel the difference between straw, sticks, and bricks.
- Cut out symbols, shapes, letters, and numbers from sandpaper or cardboard. Guide the child's hand over these shapes as you discuss them.
- Show the child how to make rubbings by colouring over an interesting texture.
- Be sure play areas are well lit so that children with limited vision can see better.
- Establish specific areas for play activities. Help a child become familiar with your room arrangement. If you decide to change the block area or art area, you will need to reorient the child to the new room arrangement.
- Provide toys and materials in colours that children with visual disabilities can see well.
- Tape raised cardboard labels of toy symbols on toy shelves to facilitate cleanup.
- Arrange the house for safe and free movement. Keep doors and cabinets closed.
- Teach non-disabled children to identify themselves and describe their art activities or building constructions in words to children with visual disabilities. Teach them also to call the child with visual disabilities by name to get his attention and to use specific words to describe objects such as a phone, hat, or car rather than this, it, or that.
- Expand the child's learning by talking him through an activity. Use descriptive words such as long, short, over, under, big, and little. Whenever possible, provide concrete experiences that illustrate these important concepts. For example, you might offer the child two balls and say, "The ball in your hand is big. Feel how big it is. But the ball in my hand is small. Would you like to touch it?"
- Encourage children to build with blocks horizontally. Children can feel shapes and lay them end to end or in different patterns without the frustration of falling blocks.