Helping Visually Impaired Children Explore the Community
Concepts related to work (business, uniform, boss, customer) are built on concepts learned in the community. Your child needs meaningful community experiences now so that you can later teach more advanced concepts, such job-hunting and networking.
Teach your child about business locations by visiting them. Examples include restaurants, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, airports, and clothing stores.
When possible, allow your child to interact with the environment. This can be exhausting, especially if active siblings are present. It certainly is not always possible. Consider any variables that can be manipulated in advance in order to simplify community experiences. Examples include:
- Instead of exhausting yourself by creating work, go where you have business to attend. Create learning opportunities out of errands.
- Plan to arrive at the location when your child is in his best mood (when well rested and fed). Actually, you should be well rested and fed, too!
- Go when older children are at school, or invite older children to help teach their sibling. Give them a specific instruction, such as describing and defining unique scents or sounds.
- Avoid the busiest hours of businesses.
When you venture out to run errands with your child, apply a little thought to make the experience meaningful. Here are several suggestions:
- Give your child opportunities to generalize information learned at home. For example, we eat dinner at the kitchen table at home and at a table in a restaurant.
- Stores often have distinct smells. A pet store smells like animals, a bakery smells like fresh bread or cake, and a clothing store smells like new clothes. Define the scents for the child.
- Talk to your child about what you hear.
- Allow your child to touch and explore as much as possible so that he can gather information on what occurs at different locations. Begin with what is familiar to the child, such as exploring a favorite fruit in the grocery store and placing a few pieces in the cart and on the checkout counter. Allow him to help bag the fruit and put it away at home.