Sensory Activities for Vision Impairments in Children

by Debra Pachucki

When a child’s vision is impaired, she must learn how to rely upon her other senses to collect and process information about her environment. Teach your visually-impaired child how to “see” and learn through other sensory experiences and activities that promote listening and touch.

Promoting Vision

Children with low vision can engage in activities that allow them to control their environment. Encourage your child to hold objects at different distances or angles to determine how she can see the items best. Read picture books with big, colorful, simple pictures to encourage her ability to distinguish and discriminate images. Telescope and microscope play can enable children to examine things from a closer perspective.

Tactile Activities

Promote your child’s ability to discriminate objects and textures with tactile activities that encourage kids to explore with their hands. Arts and crafts activities with finger paint and clay enable visually-impaired children to experience and create art with their fingers. Read textured books to a young child and encourage him to run his hands across the fabrics and materials to promote comprehension. Stack blocks and complete simple jigsaw puzzles with your child to promote his understanding of concepts such as dimension and spatial relationships through touch.

Learning to Listen

Auditory cues from the environment enable visually-impaired children to “see” what’s going on around them, says the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Help your child develop her ability to listen for, identify and localize auditory cues by playing games such as “I Hear with My Little Ear." The game is similar to the classic “I Spy with My Little Eye” children’s game, but this one uses sounds instead of sights. Tell your child, “I hear with my little ear, a sound that’s far away.” Your child must then listen for the sound you might’ve heard and identify it. Provide your child with auditory toys to promote her ability to perceive, infer and process meanings from sound.

Discovery Activities

Since children with poor or no vision can’t learn by watching others, the best learning lessons are ones that provide visually-impaired children with opportunities for discovering concepts through direct interaction and active involvement. Take your child to a museum, zoo or other place of learning where she can explore and interact with the environment through her other senses. Encourage her to listen for the sounds the monkeys make, or to reach out and stroke an animal’s fur at the petting section of the zoo. Provide her with real objects to help facilitate her understanding of concepts. Give her a toy car to play with and explore with her hands while encouraging her to envision the shape of the wheels or to describe what happens when she rolls the car across a table.

About the Author

Debra Pachucki has been writing in the journalistic, scholastic and educational sectors since 2003. Pachucki holds a Bachelor's degree in education and currently teaches in New Jersey. She has worked professionally with children of all ages and is pursuing a second Masters degree in education from Monmouth University.

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