University of Edinburgh

Early Support Developmental Journal for Babies and Children with Visual Impairment

presented on Friday 7 December 2007

Introduction to the developmental materials

Naomi Dale and Alison Salt

Developmental Journal Content outline

  • Developmental profile
  • Introduction: What it is and how to use it
  • Developmental Journal
  • Activity Cards
  • General overview of development
  • Getting stuck - more ideas

Developmental areas

  • Social and emotional development
  • Communication, Language and Meaning
  • Play and Learning (including using hands)
  • Movement and Mobility
  • Self-Care

Contents of Developmental Framework

Each stage divided into 'developmental goals'

  • shows what child has achieved
  • is currently learning
  • identifies new goals to aspire to

Developmental areas and headings

Social Development

  • Developing relationships
  • Learning about self and parents / others
  • Showing and understanding feelings
  • Showing 'attachment' to parent and familiar others
  • Behaviour and self-regulation

Social Interaction

  • Joining in social interaction
  • Joining in rhyme game
  • Developing early social skills
  • Showing knowledge of social scripts

Communication, Language and Meaning

Listening and Attending

  • Listening
  • Attending

Understanding Language and Meaning

  • Linking sounds / actions / words to familiar routines
  • Recognising what objects are
  • Understanding words


  • Attracting attention
  • Joint attention
  • Communicating needs
  • Expressing preferences


  • Making vocal sounds
  • First words
  • Linking first words to meaning
  • Naming objects
  • Making conversation

Play and Learning (including using hands)

Making Connections

  • Learning about sound
  • Learning about objects
  • Object permanence (Understanding that objects are still there when not touched or seen)
  • Cause - effect (Understanding actions on objects and effects)
  • Understanding how objects relate

Using Hands

  • Learning with touch
  • Discovering hands
  • Exploring
  • Co-ordinating hands and fingers - with toys and objects
  • Release object from grasp

Movement and Mobility

Developing a sense of position in space / body awareness
Exploring the Environment / Orientation
Extending Movement / Coordination

  • Sitting
  • Crawling
  • Standing
  • Walking
  • Managing stairs
  • Movement in play

Towards Independent Self-Care

  • Feeding / eating - participating in feeding
  • Dressing and nappy changing
  • Using the toilet
  • Washing and bathing
  • Bedtime routine and sleeping pattern

Vulnerable processes

  • Integrating senses in the first year of life
  • Becoming social and communicative
  • Becoming aware of their movement potential
  • Sharing attention (joint attention)
  • Making their world meaningful
  • Linking language to meaning


Small manageable sections / booklets - 'stages'

Overlapping 'stages' ('age bands')

Developmental Stages

  • The 'stages' are in sequence of generally expected order of achieving goals
  • The current developmental stage builds on the previous stages and is the 'stage of readiness' for new learning
  • Overlap of approximate developmental ages to allow for variation in visual level and different rates of development

Developmental 'stages'

Stages Approx Age
  ('average' child with VI)
1a 0-6 months
1b 4-12 months
2 8-18 months
3 15-24 months
4 21-30 months
5 27-36 months +

'Approximate' age ranges

The Journal is not

  • a professional assessment tool, standardised, psychometric norms
  • a standardised checklist

The age ranges are only to give a very approximate 'yardstick'.

How do you fill it in? Decision making

  • How do you fill them in?
  • How can they be used?

Decision making - is behaviour there / can a child do something?

  • possibly
  • definitely

[from Journal] Social and emotional development - Stage 2

At this stage of development children show that they want their parents' company and actively try to attract attention. They respond when their name is called and attend to parents talking to them when they're close by. They also start showing more interest in other people beyond their parents, such as other adults in the home and brothers and sisters. As vision improves in some young children, they may start inspecting faces at very close range and even try to copy some facial expressions like a broad smile or a frown.

Children start to show strong emotions - their likes, dislikes, fears and anxieties. The may show clear displeasure and protest. They giggle and laugh at amusing social games - for example, anticipating the tickle in 'round and round the garden'. Other people's feelings, like a loud, angry voice, begin to be noticed and may upset them. You may find they enjoy and join in family laughter, even if they don't know what it's about.

Developing relationships

Developmental goal card Possibly Definitely

Learning about self and parent and others

Seeking attention for self, eg; physical appraoch towards parent, 'calling' - shouts, listens and shouts again, tugging clothes

Recognising and responding to own name (eg; turning towards on approaching speaker, looking up) 5  

Listening to other people talking together

Recognising some family names, eg; mummy, daddy or the names of brothers and sisters

Showing interest in other children, eg; stilling and listening, vocalising or approaching 6  

Becomin and active partner Stage 2

Social interaction

Developmental goal card Possibly Definitely

Joining in social interaction (games and rhymes)

Recognising familiar rhymes and games, eg; showing excitement, smiling, stilling

Anticipating actions in a familiar rhyme game, eg; tickle in 'round and round the garden' and 'this little piggie' 5/6  

Actively making movements during a familiar rhyme game

Beginning to anticipate 'boo' in 'peek-a-boo' 6  
Starting off a social game, eg; pulling cloth on face, holding out hand for 'round and round the garden', opening / closing hands for 'twinkle twinkle little star' 5/6  
Copying actions, eg; clapping hands, stamping feet 5/6  

Developmental Profile

  • Record where a child is up to in all areas of development on one sheet
  • Makes it easier to compare development across more than one area
  • Family completes, with the support of their key worker / teahcer of the child with VI
  • Intervals for completion are recommended in the introduction 'how to use'
Social and emotional development Stage 1a 1b 2 3 4 5
Developing relationships            
Social interaction            
Communication, language and meaning            
Listening and attending            
Understanding language and meaning            
Expressive language - talking            
Play and learning            
Making connections            
Using hands            
Movement and mobility            
Body awareness            
Exploring the environment            
Extending movement and coordination            
Towards independent self-care            
Feeding / eating            
Dressing and nappy changing            
Using the toilet            
Washing and bathing            
Bedtime routine and sleeping pattern            

'Activity cards'

Using the activity cards - Activities and ideas

  • Provide suggestions and how to support and encourage achieving developmental goals
  • Outline potentially useful activities and strategies
  • Organised and colour-coded in line with the Stages of Developmetal record
Stages (Months) Cards
Stage 1a (0-2, 2-4

1, 2

Stage 1b (4-6, 6-9) 3, 4
Stage 2 (9-12, 12-15) 5, 6
Stage 3 (15-18, 18-21) 7, 8
Stage 4 (21-24, 24-30) 9, 10
Stage 5 (27-36) 11

Activity Cards - Headings and colour code linked to Journal

[from Journal]Card 5 - Social and emotional development

Developing relationships

Learning about self and parent and others

  • If you child seems to try to attract attention to themself, eg; by rolling or bottom shuffling towards you, call out to them and encourage them to approach you and find you in the room. Say "I'm here. Come and find me" and then attand to them. This helps babies become more confident about getting your attention and also encourages more independent movement towards you.
  • As you come into a room, call your child's name and give them time to respond - stopping and listening, turning towards or approaching you, vocalising. Reward them with your attention when they respond.
  • Talk about yoru child to another person in the room and see if the child stops still or turns towards the speaker when they hear their name.
  • Help your child learn the names of family members and associate them with their voices and body appearance. Encourage family members to say their name as they approach - for example "It's Grandpa".

Showing and understanding feelings

  • (If your toddler has sufficient vision) continue to check at what distance facial expressions can be seen and responded to. Then try to talk and smile from within this distance frequently. Smile broadly (bright lipstick helps the lips to be seen) and laugh, so that your child links the smile to the happy vocal expression and having fun. Encourage them if they try to copy this.
  • Notice your child's different feelings in different situations. Talk about your child's feelings. You might say 'Are you sad?' "You're cros", "You don't like it", using voice tone and facial expression to reflect emotion and to respond to what you think are your child's needs.

General overview of development

Further reading

  • Introduction to key areas of development
  • Approaches and strategies to support learning
  • Advice about toys and materials
  • Development of young children with VI
  • References and sources
  • Further reading

Getting stuck - more ideas

  • Explore areas at most risk in children with visual impairment
  • Provide some ideas and suggestions about common problem areas
  • Highlight where to go for more help with an aspect of development

Some ideas and suggestions about common problem areas

  • Touch sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Repetitive behaviours
  • Language Concerns / 'Echolalia' or echoing
  • Resistance to adult direction / tantrums
  • Resistance to change
  • Learning, social and communication
  • Eating and feeding
  • Sleeping

How to use the 'Getting stuck' booklet

  • Identify the developmental area that is 'stuck'
  • Check ideas in relevant area and stage in the Journal
  • Go back to ideas at an earlier stage - some important underpinning skills may need to be developed further
  • Use ideas in Getting stuck booklet to help child move on
  • If necessary, refer to 'Signposts to extra help' for ideas on who can provide further advice

Signposts to extra help

It is assumed that parents have access to a professional with experience in early development of a child with visual impairment and in the areas that are more at risk being 'stuck'.

There are routes for referral if advice provided and support from above does not lead to progress.

Resistance to adult direction / tantrums

  • Regular routines - to help anticipation of change
  • Have fun routines and activities done together
  • Joint play in activity child enjoys, to help tolerate adult joining in
  • Avoid too many conflict situations but have definite boundaries and limits
  • Encourage development of independence in self-help skills
  • Managing the tantrum
    - Remain calm and firm
    - Ignore but ensure safety
  • Give praise for positive behaviour
  • Calm 'No' and removal from unacceptable and distraction to something more interesting


Families say they don't always understand technical language, but want to have it explained - they feel the need to be able to use it when talking about their child to professionals or when reading reports.

They say, in some cases, 'only the technical word will do'.