Recommendations for parents of partially sighted children
For a good concept development parents should give their partially sighted children access to as much experiences of moving, seeing, listening and touching in their environment.
- Your visually impaired child can see. Never treat your child as if blind, instead encourage your child with plenty of positive reinforcement in order to develop the full potential of his/her eyesight.
- Your child might not be able to look into your eyes or recognize your facial expressions. Always place your face as close as possible to your child. Speak a lot and enunciate clearly and distinctly while touching your child frequently.
- Make sure there are sufficient light sources. Cold light sources are useful. There should always be adequate illumination in your child's play area. If he/she plays or works already at table, he/she needs an additional work light. Stair steps must be well lit. Show your child where the light switches are and tape something colorful on them.
- Facilitate your child’s seeing by using contrasts. E.g. put a dark place mat under mess kit and play materials.
- If your child is glare sensitive, make sure that one cannot look directly into light bulbs in your house. Ceiling washlights are useful. Build a dark corner for your child, where he/she can relax, e.g. a booth or a hut. Let your child wear a baseball cap outside and ask your ophthalmologist for light protection glasses for sunny days or snow.
- Look at picture books with your child on a daily basis. Use large, clear pictures and bold colors. Let your child approach the book as close as he/she wants. Tell him/her what one can see and let your child tell about the pictures.
- Try to instill in your child the love for painting. Some visually impaired children love water colors, finger paint or broad felt-tip pens. However, most visually impaired children paint in their very own way, that’s normal. Let your child tell what he/she has painted; always praise his/her pictures.
- Your child should move around and exercise a lot. Go swimming with him/her, let him/her walk barefoot and climb up climbing frames; climb and frolic around with your child outside. Allow him to ride a tricycle. Never frighten him/her, but encourage him/her.
- Partially sighted children especially need to be trained in how to use their hands. Therefore, you should give your child toys he/she can “work” with: every-day items like pots, plates, cups; soft modeling clay, board games, LEGO bricks; let him/her tear and crumple up paper, catalogues etc.
- Show your child the world! He/she can see and understand almost everything if he/she can closely approach things and gets enough time. Let your child observe items using both eyes and hands . Go outside together and give him/her leaves, stones, cones etc. and explain what they are.
- Allow your child to sit before the TV as close as he/she wants. Short animal movies or slow animated cartoons can be clearly recognized by many visually impaired children. If you record short TV programs, your child can watch them several times, perhaps in slow motion, and thus understand them better.
- Let your child do a lot of things independently. Just be there, encourage him/her and help as little as possible. This is the only way for your child to become independent and self-confident.
- Never ask your child: “Do you see that?” – He/she will always say “yes”, because he/she doesn’t know what you see. Always ask him/her: “What do you see? – Explain it to me!”
- Do use early intervention services, and ask the professionals all the questions you may have, even several times if necessary. They are there for you!