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Today in the Neighborhood News, we’re looking at one of the solely low incidence disabilities, specifically, children who are blind or have low vision, and information that may be useful to their families. In Orientation and Mobility for Babies and Toddlers: A Parent’s Guide, Dr. Merry-Noel Chamberlain, an orientation and mobility specialist, describes the importance of starting early with cane training. Dr. Chamberlain states, “If you want your child to be an independent traveler. . . the very best thing you can do is to introduce her to the cane at an early age.” She goes on to describe “baby’s first cane” in some detail and offers a host of suggestions on how to incorporate the cane into a young child’s daily routines.
Dr. Chamberlain is not in favor of “pre-canes”—devices, often made from PVC pipe, designed to simulate case use—but does promote the use of everyday objects, like wrapping paper tubes and push toys (e.g., child-size shopping carts and toy lawn mowers) to encourage a child’s willingness to explore the environment. “These toys make wonderful pre-canes, and they are age- and stage-appropriate. They are lightweight and the perfect size. Like the cane, the push toy . . . explores the surface ahead of your child and informs her whether the path is clear of obstacles so she may venture forward.” Dr. Chamberlain also provides suggestions of games and activities that can be folded into a child’s day to promote can use.
What experiences have you had working with orientation and mobility specialists? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood here.