I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of very different pupils over the years, each with various learning difficulties and multi-sensory impairments. I have always found teaching a child with a visual impairment and a severe learning difficulty really, really challenging. Even with the support of MSI teachers, and teachers of the visually impaired, I still struggle with new ideas, but here are a few pointers and activities that may help you, if new to the visually impaired.
- Communication– get your school up to date on TASSELS. This is an on-body signing method that can really support your P1- P3 pupils. Just concentrate on a few signs per child, that will cue them into the most important sessions of the day, e.g. eat, drink, hello, movement.
- Communication– Objects of Reference- these are object cues that you will use to cue your child into every activity. The objects should be exactly the same in every class across the school for good continuity. Some examples that we have used are; a spoon for dinner time (if the child is fed orally), a cup for drink time, some fabric for home time (to represent the coat). Your school can pick out the most important things on the timetable, and decide on your own cues, personal to your school.
- Routine– try to keep things quite samey, so the child can become familiar with your class and become more independent in their actions. Keep your classroom lay out uncluttered and unmoved as then the more mobile child can explore and find things with greater independence (and less accidents).
- Time– give the child plenty of time to respond to instructions and exploratory activities. Ensure the pupils can explore their
environment wherever possible to find out where they are and become familiar with it.
- Positioning– I always get picked up on this in observations; position your child with VI in a way that the light is coming behind them, not in front of them, or try to work in a more darkened area if possible.
- Texture– find really interesting sensory objects to explore relating to your theme (see my blog on renew, reuse, recycle!) I recently saw a class team develop a sensory wall, high contrasting items, reflective items, textured items, noisy items. Of course the pupils were encouraged to make items for the wall, through use of exploration and choice.
- Texture– create a sensory book, where each page of a story has a tactile item on it to explore. This will also encourage page turning, listening and sharing.
- Sound– when one sense is impaired, the others are more sensitive, so a lot of children with visual impairments will enjoy music and sound exploration. Use sound or music cues as part of your daily routine and enjoy familiar sounds and rhymes together.
- Sound– create a sound story, where each page has a focus of a sound rather than a texture
- Sight– most VI pupils do have some vision to work with, so following guidance from your MSI advisor, work in a dark tent exploring interesting lights/ shiny/ reflective items.
- Smell– create ‘smelly’ boxes relating to your topics!
- I will add more as I experience more good practice from my fellow sensory teachers 😉