University of Edinburgh

Play and Communication with Pupils with Visual Impairment and Additional Support Needs

Presented on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 December

Encouraging Play and Active Learning

Mary Lee, Royal Blind School, Edinburgh

What is Play
"The essence of play is that it is initiated by the child himself; For, unlike work, play is carried out for its own sake, not for the sake of an end product or reward. The act of playing is its own reward"
DM Jeffree, Roy McConkey, S Hewson. Let Me Play Human Horizons

The starting point

  • We need to know their individual learning styles
  • Their likes and dislikes
  • How they like to be approached
  • How they use their vision and other senses
  • Their preferred ways of interacting with and exploring the world

Theories of Play

Piaget’s sensori-motor period

Newborns move from reflex actions such as sucking and grasping, to

  • More purposeful exploration,
  • An understanding of cause and effect
  • More varied play strategies and problem solving through trial and error
  • The ability to hold a mental image of the object and mental problem solving (around 18 months)

Stated that:

  • we learn in a social context
  • we learn more through social interaction than we can on our own

    In play:
  • the child develops his own ideas
  • the adult’s role is to extend his thinking, looking forwards to the next steps in his learning

Elinor Goldschmeid Heuristic Play

Importance of spontaneous play

Given the right materials, children will

  • make their own discoveries
  • direct their own learning

Materials (everyday objects) have endless possibilities - there is always another way, that is, there is no right and wrong way, the basis of future problem solving.

Adults take on a facilitating role

  • watchful and attentive, helping only when required
  • providing an ‘emotional anchorage’

Gunilla Preisler

  • Comparative study of children who are deaf and children who are blind
  • Comparative study of children who are blind with those who are normally developing.

Techniques for developing play

Possible obstacles to play for children with visual impairment

  • Lack of motivation / stimulation through vision
  • Communication difficulties
  • Tuned into listening rather than doing
  • Tactile defensiveness
  • Physical difficulties

End Result: Fewer means of control over the environment

Lilli Nielsen Multi Sensory Corners 1

  • Creating Security
  • Promoting Intentionality
  • Providing the Right Objects

Multi Sensory Corners 2

  • Assessing functional vision
  • Encouraging an Understanding of Sound
  • Developing Cause and Effect

Adult Approach

  • Interaction
  • Facilitation
  • Intervention
  • Diversion

Play Schema Tina Bruce

  • Dab
  • Enclosure / enveloping
  • Trajectory
  • Circulatory / rotation
  • Connection
  • Transporting
  • Position
  • Correspondence

Individual learning styles Features of the exploratory play of children with MDVI

  • It tends to be body centred - the mouth is important for sensory feedback
  • Sound rhythm and timing are likely to play an important part
  • Movement is likely to be important - movement of self, and causing objects to move
  • Hands may not be the main avenue of exploration