Listen, this is where we get creative. Our kiddos want to "trick-or-treat" and that’s just what we’ll do. [Insert sneaky little laugh.] However, don’t think we can’t slip in some orientation and mobility throughout the process.
Here’s what I have in mind.
If "trick-or-treating" really is a motivator for your child, it’s time to invite your child to learn and practice a "trick-or-treat" route. If you don’t know the ins-and-outs of teaching a route, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialist for assistance. It’ll likely entail utilizing the cane and sensory information (sound, sight, smell, and touch) while traveling along the sidewalk, determining the path with the most homes, identifying intersections, listening for traffic patterns and the safe time to cross a street, and practicing compass directions. When you return home, draw a map of your route and add puffy paint to create a tactile map. Practice the next several days or weeks until the route is down pat!
"My child is definitely not there yet," you say. Okay, no problem. Simply walk down your street (avoid intersections) and help your child identify walkways and driveways with a cane (or even sighted guide) feeling the change of terrain with feet and hands for the littlest ones. Ask a few neighbors if you can practice traveling on the walkways and using the doorbells. Have your child say "Hi! We are practicing ‘trick-or-treating’!" Hopefully conversations will be had and social skills gained! At home, create a tactile map of a straight line (your street) and add small, raised foam squares for the homes you plan to visit. Practice as frequently as possible, bringing your map!
"We are way past learning basic routes," you say. That’s great! I think it’s time to utilize public transportation to travel to the neighborhood with the best potential candy. Perhaps you can accompany your child as he or she follows directions and utilizes landmarks. Encourage your child to solicit assistance from others if needed, and decline assistance tactfully. Perhaps your child can bring along a GPS; Your teen may enjoy practicing use of a smart phone with GPS (remembering to utilize only one ear bud, so he can still hear traffic). Talk about advanced O&M skills!
Two more resources before I "go":
If your child is deaf-blind, check out this article for Orientation and Mobility pointers: Learning to Travel with Both Hearing and Vision Loss
If your child of any age has not begun O&M training, check out our Directory of Services to find a local service provider.
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