Expanding Your Child’s Who is Blind or Visually Impaired’s Knowledge Base
Just the same as every young child, your daughter begins life without an understanding of the world around her. While sighted children learn to make sense of their world by observing daily occurrences, your child will learn to make sense of her world by gathering information any way she is able. In addition to using any vision she may have, she will learn by interacting with the world- physically exploring objects and processes. She will need your words to make sense of experiences and matters. Each time she understands the properties of an object or comprehends an activity, she has learned a concept.
You can consider each concept your child understands as a building block for future learning. Every building block she grasps is a tremendously valuable tool. For instance, you can build on her concept of bath water. You will be able to prepare her for an upcoming beach vacation, describing how you will hold her in the ocean; it will feel like warm bath water on her skin. Every aspect of transitioning into the adult word is made possible with each understood concept. Whether your child eventually moves into an assisted living home or dorm room, she will adjust to her new environment because she understands the concept of living spaces. Whether your daughter chooses to volunteer daily or pursue a professional career (both are extremely valuable), she works because she understands the concepts of work and social interaction.
Now, while your child is very young, is the ideal age to introduce her to as many concepts as possible. Begin with her immediate environment and routine and give her opportunities to hold and manipulate a variety of real objects (ball, spoon, shoe, bottle, blanket, cup, braille book, toothbrush, dog, etc.) in their natural environments. Demonstrate their purposes and talk with her about their properties. (Note that a stuffed dog has very different properties than her pet dog- allow her to explore the real objects.) She will likely enjoy the attention and she will benefit from hearing the vocabulary, and eventually understanding the concepts.