Last week my blog was historically based around the post-war soldiers, the effects of war causing blindness, and the need for Orientation & Mobility support in order for them to return to society. There is an interesting article I have found about the "Three men without whom O&M would probably never have become what it is today" Read on for more: http://www.sauerburger.org/dona/omhistory.htm
Many years ago with our son who was under 2 years old at the time, we stayed with a close friend of mine who had a background as an early childhood teacher and specialist in vision impairment. She understood every minute of child development, understanding what stage a child was at and where they would go next and taught me so much about looking for these steps and stages.
It was my wonderful friend who came up with the game of “Where’s Bob?” My son wore navy blue felt slippers with ‘Bob the Builder’ sitting on top. He was a fan of ‘Bob’ and loved getting into his PJ’s after his bath, putting his ‘Bob’ dressing gown on top and wearing his slippers. This particular evening, my friend had the slippers ready for my son and she decided to hold onto one and give him the other one. The slipper was hidden in the lounge area and my son had to go in search for it after each person gestured “Where’s Bob”? He was encouraged to scan around and look for ‘Bob’, to look in different places, under cushions, underneath furniture, up high, down low. ‘Bob’ was found and the game was repeated. ‘Bob’ was found several times over and it was a fantastic game that only required the ability to search, to be motivated, curious, encouraged to ‘look’, and gave my son the opportunity to extend his peripheral area when searching outside of his familiar place. The one resource needed for this game was a slipper.
‘Easter egg hunts’ are happening more and more around the country now at Easter and so many children get involved and embrace the experience. They too, search high and low, over and under, look into the distance and close-up. Don't just play once a year!
So when your child next asks to play a game, introduce “WHERE’S BOB?”
Depending on the ‘resource’ you use, this game will suit children of ‘all abilities’.
Feel free to add your ideas for resources in the comments below.
It’s school holidays and a time where routines change, different things happen at different times of the day and the kids you see at school may be different to the ones around home on holidays.
On days like these, there are many people out there alone. Today on Facebook, a parent with a child with Special needs wrote “how lonely and isolated life has become”. A person’s response was “most of us are isolated from family every day”.
Not only parents of kids with special needs but I believe it includes those people who live alone either through choice or loss of a partner. There are also those couples who have longed to have children but were unable. There are families who are living with people with mental health issues day in, day out. Adults with disabilities can be in a shared housing situation but still feel alone.
I have one son who was my 5th pregnancy, meaning I have experienced a number of losses and have had to accept the situation that there won’t be any more opportunities for him to have a sibling, someone to share a room with, share a holiday with, ask advice from an older brother/sister. Our extended family live interstate and some have passed on, so we have small celebrations and the day doesn’t always become any more extra-ordinary.
I guess if there is anything people want you to know when they are feeling lonely, overwhelmed, exhausted, resentful, sad, grieving – is for others (be it family or friend) to remember them and show them that by sending a message, picking up the phone and call, invite them over for a celebration or a cup of tea, or drop in unexpectedly just to surprise them, makes them feel connected.
We all want to make those connections.
On Saturday morning I leapt out of bed, collected my gold coins and a few silver in readiness for my adventure down the road to a couple of GARAGE SALES that had been advertised along the road during the week. (I’ve always believed that those who have signs prior to the day in nearby streets, have a mission to sell, sell, sell. They are organised and generally, it will be ‘a good garage sale’ that might be worthy of a story!)
Having an over-abundance of ‘stuff’ already, my idea for coins only, is to ensure that I don’t really come home with unnecessary items that we don’t need. I know how easy that can happen, having been a ‘garage saler’ for many years now!
Garage sales have been quite tempting for me too, when I see things that I know my friend would love, my husband might like to read, or my son may want it for his box of tricks. Currently, the main reason I go along is for the likelihood of finding something that may come in handy for work purposes, good for storage or something for someone I am working with who would benefit from the item.
Today on the seller’s table were “all sorts” from cups and crockery to pizza ovens, ornaments and sunlounges, dvds, videos, and clothes of all shapes and sizes. There were lots of plastic containers and a basket of kitchen utensils that I always like to take a peek in, as you never know what you might find? Interestingly, the 20c basket came through with the goods and there it was, in a dark orange colored plastic, shining from minimal use – a tablespoon & teaspoon measurer all in one with the measurements marked at each end. My Mum had one of these a long time ago and she has claimed on several occasions how much she misses it when she cooks. The one she loved was white but as her benches are white now and she requires a lot more contrast and color due to her vision challenges, an orange one should do the trick! My plan is to wrap it in something soft and post it off to her in Melbourne.
After quietly purchasing my Mum’s reincarnated spoon, I came across a mystery box with a clear lid but covered by the title LONDON and some shape outlines. I opened the box where hidden underneath the paper were miniature wooden 3D shaped icons of London, including Big Ben, ‘the gherkin’, the London Eye Wheel, double decker buses and proportionate wooden taxi cars. The set was $2 and that too, I picked up quietly but held onto it tightly, as I perused more potential resources. I have included some pictures of my purchases and you may be wondering what I will be doing with my London set apart from finding a place for it to be stored.
In maths, a blind child learns about shape by exploring with their hands the 3D cube, sphere, locating other similar forms in the classroom including boxes representing big cubes. The shapes are often described and connected with the ‘real thing’ and iconic landmarks all over the world have been a referral point when the shape is unusual or extremely tall. This London set of miniature icons can be used with the child/adult who wants to know more about these buildings before they visit, and/or can contribute to a discussion in an art class when discussing perspective. This $2 set of icons can provide the ‘preview’ of landmarks that are not always easy to grasp without more direct experience.
This week I accompanied a small group of adults with vision impairment to the wonderful musical of “My Fair Lady” in the city’s Performing Arts Centre. There were nominated shows that were providing the audio description with headsets for those who required them. Did you know that the person who does the description attends the performance at least 5 times before completing the description? That’s actually one of the reasons why it is not available till at least 2 weeks into the performances of a live show. “My Fair Lady” had so much dialogue and music that it must have been quite a challenge for the descriptions to fit in between both in those short moments of silence. (Basically, for those who haven’t experienced it before, descriptors can be given about the clothing the cast is wearing, the bag they are carrying, the people in the scene, the actions of the people…..)
Prior to this performance, I had attended a movie with headsets providing the audio description. It was the first time I had this experience and the interesting thing was that I can still recall some spoken detail of the movie with the descriptions, which was better than on some occasions where my visual memory hasn’t held onto the detail. I don’t have a vision impairment but there is a lot to be said about individual styles of learning.
Apparently, the success of the audio description can be due to where one is seated for a show, or how the headsets are held or angled from your ears or how powered up the battery is when distributed. And of course, the user needs to know how to work the on/off button, the volume and which way the headset is worn. Over time, hopefully the request for a headset will be a common one just like asking for an extra cushion, and the availability will be in all entertainment venues.
It takes skill to listen to the describer of the show/movie, and to decide what’s important and what’s not. These skills need developing from early on as young children when listening to a parent, a teacher, a friend, a pet. Exploring and deciphering the sounds and words is a skill preparing children for future conversation (social skills), independence and safety (audio train announcements, judging distances by traffic sounds). A person’s conceptual understanding of topics will have a huge impact on what is understood and interpreted when provided with additional audio information.
In this time of technology, our children are growing up amongst it. The phone rings – a variety of tones ring through, the child identifies the person by the tone. When family live distances apart, the child can still talk to them on the phone, ‘facetime’ or ‘Skype’ and wish Grandma a happy birthday with a song. As a parent, friend, teacher, professional – continue to encourage the child with a vision impairment to have those opportunities where the style of communication varies and the information gained can be in a variety of ways. Expose them to different alarm signals, radio wakeup calls, school bells, emergency sounds, digital voice, and teach the child how to turn it on and off, lower the volume, plug in an external cord. These skills and many more, are all functional skills that continue to be required for ‘lifelong learning’.
Kerri Weaver is a service provider for children with disabilities.