Being Blind or Visually Impaired is a very depressing experience for many people. The message that one’s child can not see, or only very poorly, or lose sight of the eye, is therefore tough for many parents to deal with numerous question marks.
Some of these question marks are to be taken up and discussed in the following lines.
Visual impairment: types and causes
Not all the blind people have the perfect darkness. Some blind people can still perceive light and shadow in a limited degree. Vision impairment and blindness can be congenital or develop in the course of life. They can be present in one eye as well as in both eyes.
The most common causes of congenital blindness include:
- Infections of the mother during pregnancy (e.g., rubella)
- Genetically caused malformations
- Birth trauma (e.g. oxygen deficiency, cerebral hemorrhage, brain damage)
- Preterm infants (premature retinopathies)
Illnesses, such as green and gray starvation, which gradually reduce the visual acuity, often occur in the high adult age. The following conditions can lead to sudden blindness:
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Retinal detachment
- Vascular occlusions or
Depending on the cause, there is the possibility to heal blindness. Not infrequently are important for an immediate medical treatment of eye problems as well as a regular precaution. For example, early detection of vision impairment in only one eye can prevent the blindness of this eye in small children.
Early promotion for blind and visually impaired children
Blind and visually impaired children perceive their environment differently than their sighted contemporaries. Instead of the visual perception, the world-knowledge is mainly about hearing and touch. The sense of taste and smell, therefore, play an important role. As a perception area is eliminated, it is particularly important to promote the development of the other senses all the more.
The development of linguistic and motor development is also different for blind and visually impaired children from their age and therefore needs to be specifically encouraged so that no major delays arise in these areas.
Just as parents frequently describe their seeing children what it sees, it is the parent task to identify with a blind or visually impaired child what it hears for sounds. These are important points of reference in his life. For the visually impaired and blind children special early advancement programs are often offered, which can usually be used free of charge.
In so-called educational centers for the blind and similar institutions, early childhood measures are offered which accompany a blind or visually impaired child from birth to the beginning of the school year. The early intervention team consists mostly of specially trained educators, diploma teachers, social pedagogues, therapists (speech therapists, physiotherapists, ergotherapists), psychologists and orthoptists.
The Federal Association also offers a wide range of helpful information for parents of blind children, such as the legal, leisure, school, literature tips and links to other relevant websites.
Visiting a blind school can, but does not necessarily have to happen. In the course of the increasing inclusion of children with special needs, some regular schools also take on blind and visually impaired pupils. In this context, they can also learn the Brailleschrift (Blindenschrift) from the first class together with seeing pupils.
Tips for dealing with blind or visually impaired children
Encourage communication with your child by animating it to talk. Query terms and fill them with content. Also, you should always give your child feedback on his or her facial expressions.
Position your baby more often in the abdomen, even if it rejects it. It is of great importance for the learning of crawling and other motor procedures. Motivate it for independent movement, for example with sound sources, which the child is to discover.
Let your child feel, smell, taste, hear as much as possible. This stimulates sensory perception.
You should also try to guide your child as little as possible (without risk of danger, e.g., in the house).
Games that require handwork are important for promoting fine motor skills. Knits, Lego, and magnetic stones are among the most popular of all.
Explore the playgrounds with your child, or try out sports such as swimming, judo or horseback riding.
You should always approach your child before you touch it and accompany your actions as well as all the actions of the child with words.
Conclusion: Blindness and visual impairment in the baby, toddler and childhood age
- Blindness or visual impairment may be congenital or acquired and may occur suddenly
- Therapy or cure is strongly dependent on the cause and the degree of blindness or visual impairment
- blind or visually impaired children can learn as well as sees
- different support strategies help blind and visually impaired children to navigate their environment better
- Visiting a blind school can be useful, but in many regions is no longer a must
- Brailleschrift (Blindenschrift) is often learned at the same time with the literary profession of children
- Do not try to keep any risk out of your child, but trust him. Encourage the most significant possible independence and create challenges and learning experiences. And most importantly: show lots of patience and attention!