Advice for parents and carers of children who have visual impairments

All you need is a listening ear and the willingness to chat whenever you can. This resource provides tips and techniques targeting the other senses to use with your child that will help enhance their learning process and also help you to bond with each other.

A child with visual impairments uses other senses to help her to learn. Communication and language is vital to the learning process, giving names, concepts and understanding to what she hears, touches, smells and tastes. Most brain development is in the first two years, so stimulation is crucial for your child and communicating helps her to make sense of the world and her surroundings.

Help your child learn about the environment around them
A child with vision can see a man banging on a drum, hear the sound and link the cause-effect. A child with visual impairments can hear the sound, but needs the environment brought to him to help learn what the cause is. He will have a sensory memory and will build up 3D images rather than pictorial ones. Communicating and talking contributes to building up understanding and linking the cause-effect.

How can I help my child learn to communicate?

Children with visual impairments will be more sensitive to sound, touch, taste and smell. They might not respond to you quite as quickly as a sighted child would, but they are certainly just as inquisitive and keen to learn! Your voice is a powerful tool, and your child will be very aware of the different tones you use which convey meaning. Try to use your voice to convey emotion, and keep it calm and gentle.

Getting down to your child’s level will help her engage more easily with you and give her an awareness of where you are. Introducing yourself when you come into a room and stating when you are leaving also gives her confidence in knowing who is around her.

Children with visual impairments learn a great deal through using their hands and touch. Letting them touch your face, and naming the parts of the face helps with learning the concept of the body, which are often among the first words.

Placing your child’s hand on your face so it is near your nose and lips on one side, will help give a sense of what happens when someone talks. He will feel the vibrations through your face, and also become aware of the different lip shapes when pronouncing words such as the subtle difference between a ‘p’ and ‘b’.

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