There are an estimated 30,000 blind or partially sighted children and young people in Britain. Problems with sight usually develop before a baby is born when parts of the eyes or nerves fail to develop correctly. The brain usually receives images through nerves and without them functioning correctly, the it is unable to process the images, causing vision impairment or blindness.
The three most common causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in children are: Cerebral visual impairment, disorders of the optic nerve, and disorders of the Retina.
Some of the early signs of problems in children:
* Red, inflamed, watery or cloudy eyes,
* Excessive rubbing or poking of the eyes,
*Puffy or swollen eyelids,
* Moving or “wobbling” eyes,
* Unusual posture when looking at something,
* Bright lights causing discomfort.
Children will be having regular eye tests with health professionals, however if you have any concerns it is important to seek advice and further testing immediately.
Development areas to encourage
Children with sight loss can feel isolated during a period in their lives that is often more than tough already.
With the right support, they can take part in exciting activities, develop friendships and have fun growing up without feeling excluded.
The areas to encouragement development are: Social & Emotional, Communication, Cognitive, Fine Motor and Gross Motor skills.
Learning spacial awareness and problem solving will be particularly valuable, as well as developing excellent listening and attention skills. These are all useful in understanding your environment and the daily sounds around them to help make sense of their world.
Activities that they can engage with
Make a sensory play area, this can be any space where the child feels comfortable and where they are in control, even their bedroom. The child can manipulate the toys and other objects. Their voices will sound louder and different in the confined space providing more stimulation.
Introduce Braille for communication and reading purposes, there are plenty of excellent childrens books printed in Braille or audio tapes will develop listening and concentration.
Messy play encourages the use of their hands, fine motor skills and learning through touch and using other senses.
Make Developmental Charts for your Child to encourage development in the 5 areas.