University of Edinburgh

Play and Communication for Children with Visual Impairment and Additional Support Needs

Presented on Monday & Tuesday 1 & 2 December 2008

Encouraging play and active learning

Children with MDVI
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 their 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 forward 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'

Techniques for developing play

Possible obstacles to play for children with visual impairment

  • Lack of motivation/stimulation
  • 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

  • Encouraging and understanding of sound
  • Promoting intentional seraching and an object concept
  • Developing cause and effect

Adult Approach

  • Observation (encouraging problem solving)
  • Intervention
  • Facilitation
  • Supporting independent play

Play Schemas
Tina Bruce

  • Trajectory
  • Transporting
  • Rotation
  • Enveloping
  • Enclosure
  • Connecting

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