V I S U A L I M P A I R M
E N T S
Major Concern #1
Children cannot see dangers in their environment and
playgrounds and other physical activity settings are full of danger for a
child who cannot see at the level of peers.
Begin in your backyard by creating a safe area where you
child knows boundaries and has landmarks such as a warning track around the
yard. Grass areas with dirt or wood chip boundaries will help your child
know where he or she can safely move. Also, make sure this safe area is
free of objects that the child can fall over every time the child plays.
Consider tandem biking. First make sure your child can
balance on the bike since his balance will affect the front riderís control
of the bike. Using a balance harness with another adult supporting the
child on the back is one suggestion. Ride real slow and let the child get
the feel while another person runs along side and supports will help the
child learn to feel the balance point. With some practice there are even
tandem bike races in some areas. This is a great partner activity that you
and your child can do into adulthood. It also gets parents out on the bike
and exercising. Safety is less of a problem since a person without vision
loss can do the steering. However, keep in mind that it takes additional
skill for the front rider to steer a bike built for two. Do not allow
inexperienced siblings to steer a bike built for two until you are
confident in their skill. It only takes one fall for bike riding to become
a scary activity. Practice in a safe area before you go on the road.
Major Concern #2
The child cannot see and this makes it hard for the
child to understand games such as basketball or soccer where we learn by
seeing others play.
Games such as basketball and soccer can be adapted for
children with visual impairments by adding sound. Putting small bells in
the pockets of other family members so the child knows where others are and
also putting a bell on the basketball net provides a cheap avenue for
feedback so the child knows where things are and when she has made a
basket. Keep in mind, goal ball is a game played without site and the ball
has bells in it so the child can track the object. This game can be played
at home with as few as two people if a safe area exists. Pet stores have
small balls with bells that can be used in a variety of ways.
Major Concern #3
Children with visual impairment tend to have problems
developing play skills at the rate of peers without vision loss.
Again, as indicated earlier in the autism section, young
parents of children with visual impairments need to go to playgrounds and
see other children play and try to facilitate basic play in their child.
Children with visual impairments lack the visual cues and ability to see
others play making it hard to imitate peers and learn through social
activities. Helping children from at an early age play by themselves, next
to others, and eventually with others needs to be taught by parents. Donít
wait until the child is old enough to communicate verbally to begin playing
and exploring how kids play.