3 Ways to Adapt Activities for Children with Vision Impairment
what is visual impairment?
Visual impairment is defined as a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses.
This could be cortical visual impairment (CVI affects the area of the brain that processes visual information) or ocular visual impairment ( affecting the eye itself). Occupational therapy focuses on reducing the impact of the disability by increasing independence in activities.
Working with children in the schools I have treated kids of all levels with visual impairments and for me coming up with activities or adaptations for them is more challenging as I find myself taking my vision for granted.
Here are 3 ways to adapt activities for children with vision impairment.
1. intentional use of color for cvi
A lot of my kiddos with CVI prefer a certain color. They are able to focus on it the longest giving the brain time to process, for example, the color red is popular with a lot of my kiddos. Using a solid red plate, bowl, or cup during mealtime will help your child locate what they are searching for, potentially making mealtimes more successful and making them more independent with feeding.
The same can be said for toys. Multi-colored toys are typically the go-to for most children but for a child with CVI that multi-colored toy isn’t pretty and fun, it’s chaos and confusion. A simple green ball or solid blue truck will be easier for them to focus on and increase their independent functional play skills.
I personally love to read, and while reading from a book is my favorite, I also listen to audiobooks while driving or taking my dog for a walk. They have become increasingly popular and can be downloaded to a personal device and while they are a convenience to some people for others it’s the main way they can be introduced to the classics we love!
Audible is the app I personally use to listen to audiobooks!
Listening is a huge part of how these kiddos learn and interact with the world. Nourishing that sense and giving them all the detail is HUGE. I see a little boy who is visually impaired, watching TV with his siblings isn’t as enjoyable for him since he cannot see what is happening but radio and audiobooks are his favorite leisure activity, for him specifically he LOVES listening to a police scanner!
3. DIY ADAPTING
Some things are not available for purchase already adapted and some are. You have to be very diligent in your search. Luckily I’ve already done a lot of this and have some ideas and finds!
Playing board games with my kiddos is so important to me, it works on so many OT skills while also introducing them to the classic childhood games. I teamed up with our school TVI (teacher for the visually impaired) and adapted the game CandyLand by Brailling the board and the playing cards, it was so simple and my kiddo LOVED playing it! He had never played before and it was something he would do independently since he is able to read Braille.
We also have access to Braille Legos that was just recently released by the company this year! Hello fine motor skills and reading in one! I’m not sure the company has released them to the public yet but they are on the way!
For a child whose braille may not be an option, you can also adapt the game Connect Four by adding a texture to one of the colors. Applying a small felt dot to all of the red chips will allow the child to tell the difference between the two groups. There is also an option to purchase a version of Connect Four made for the visually impaired!
These simple adaptations to daily activities will increase your child’s independence and introduce them to new things that may have not been accessible to them otherwise. Reading together and board games also open the opportunity for family time and increased social interaction. You can never have enough of that!
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