The effect of blindness on child development


The effect of blindness on child development article is about visual impairment and effects of  language development , psychological, behavioral, characteristics and other Issues. 

The effect of blindness

Human beings have a marvelous capacity for adjusting to a major handicap, such as blindness. But many factors can affect the quality of adjustment.

This becomes abundantly clear during a longitudinal, interdisciplinary study of children blind from birth recently completed at the Northwestern University Medical School.

The children were treated and observed, by various specialists in the fields of medicine, psychology, and social work, for an average of about 12 years from the time of their birth.

Generalized observations derived from the study might be helpful to persona who work with blind children, particularly those handicapped both by Windless and real or apparent mental retardation.

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The effect of blindness on child development

The effect of blindness on child development

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General Findings 

A consideration of all of the factors with which the study was concerned from social case histories, medical histories, parents’ interviews, and neurological, psychological, and electroencephalographic examinations –

leads us to the tentative conclusion that the majority of the children in the study who did not measure up to

normal intelligence, and who consequently were not making a satisfactory educational adjustment, were children handicapped by generalized physiological impairments.

Only in a minority of cases could we rule out physical factors and place the responsibility for poor development on an emotional basis.   But it is difficult to tell what comes first.

The parents of an organically impaired child may create emotional problems which obstruct the child’s ability to compensate for his handicap.

The “constitution” of the child, for want of a better term, seemed to be the deciding factor in the outcome, if the basic neurological structures were intact.

We feel that a more realistic approach must be made by those individuals who will have the most contact with the children prior to the onset of mobility instruction.Verbal descriptions from the parents or teachers will not suffice.

But rather, the blind child must be permitted to physically explore the world so as to facilitate differentiation of the physical environment and not be forced to rely solely on auditory cues.

It is felt that a congenitally blind child requires concrete perceptions from which a meaningful concept may be formed, with a tendency noted to learn things first in parts in order to later establish an organized whole.

We feel that blind children need to be permitted to have more experiences which will utilize the remaining sensory devices so as to be better able to form more accurate concepts of the world around them.

However, the reverse is found to be true in the case of the adventitiously blind child.   This child, having had visual experience on which to draw, is able to recall visual images which would aid in the formation of the organized concept.

This organized whole can then be broken into tangible parts.   It must be remembered, however, that the age at which sight was lost would be operative on the amount of residual visual imagery.

It has been noted by us in our experiences that workers with the blind, as well as parents of the blind, too often persist in the use of the mental imagery of the sighted and thus relate to the blind child in a manner which does not permit the child the opportunity to form an accurate concept.

Most often this mental imagery is verbalized to the child with the result being an accurate verbal description of environmental situations by the child, but when asked to function kinesthetically in the same environment, the  child will make inaccurate movements.

This is due to the ambiguity of the child’s verbalization which has been made in sighted terms that are not fully understood by the child. To say this another way, an implied conceptualization gathered from a child’s verbalization is not always accurate.

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The effect of blindness on child development

The effect of blindness on child development

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Professional Consultation

The child has been exposed to a sighted person’s vocabulary which is visually oriented and is, more often than not, meaningless to the child.   Outs forth has referred to this phenomenon as  “the verbal unreality of the child.”We stated that a more realistic approach should be made by those persons who would have the most contact with the blind child prior to the beginning of formal training in orientation and mobility.

You may ask just what persons do we mean specifically, and what is the role of the orientation and mobility instructor, if any, to aid these persons.

Orientation is accurately defined as “the process of utilizing the remaining senses in establishing one’s position and relationship to all other significant objects in one’s environment.”

By this definition, we see that orientation is a never-ending process. Obviously, it begins when the child is born and continues in some form or another for as long as the person lives.

It is the feeling of this committee that these persons may aid the blind child most effectively in the formation of accurate and meaningful conceptual patterns. It may fall upon the mobility instructor to aid these persons from time to time in the role of a consultant.

Ideally, the parents should find it possible to avail themselves of several forms of professional help and consultation.

One  form of professional consultation available to them should bean orientation and mobility specialist.

Likewise, the teacher in the residential school for the blind, the houseparent of the resident school,  the classroom teacher in the resource room of the day school, and the itinerant teacher all should receive the benefits of the knowledge possessed by the orientation and mobility instructor so that these persons may plan and practice methods of instruction which will lead to concept formation by the child and prove to be of benefit to the child when formal orientation and mobility instruction begins.

If we accept the premise that orientation is a never-ending process which begins with the birth of the child, then logically, the persons who must begin the process of concept forming are the parents.



There are several methods available to the parents which may aid toward this end.   The so-called normal seeing child is permitted and actively encouraged to explore the environment, yet too often this developmental process is denied the blind child.

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Several authoritative sources have theorized the cause to be related to parental fears for the blind child which are, in fact, the projection of parental fears as imagined if they, the parents, were blind.

The gradual increase of awareness of the environment which is encouraged in the sighted child must not be denied the blind child.  The sighted child becomes increasingly aware of the
life around him the degree of effectiveness of vision increases.


The blind  child May only become more aware of the environment by sensory and verbal interpretation.   The process of encouragement of tactile exploration may begin while the child is still in the crib stage using toys possessing auditory and actual stimulation.

The child should also be permitted freedom of movement in this early stage so that an accurate assessment of the body, its capabilities and limitations,

may begin from the earliest stage and be continued as the maturation process continues.

As the sighted child’s environment and knowledge of the environment is widened,  so too should the blind child’s environment be widened. From the crib the child will move to the play-pen.

Here, again,  for example, toys may be used to stimulate the child’s active role in movement and exploration.   From the play-pen the child will move to the floors of various rooms of the house.

At this time the parents may use toys which may be rolled and which will give off auditory signals for the child to locate and retrieve.   This may prove to be valuable later in life as the mobility instructor works into areas of sound localization.

The child, while being permitted to crawl on the floors of the rooms, is in the position of receiving the first introduction to orientation to objects and furniture in the rooms.

As a neural sequence, the child will then be moved outdoors as weather permits so that orientation to the outside world may begin. From the yard, and as the chronological age increases, the child will move into areas in the neighborhood and the community.


The parents role

The parents’ role during these stages must be one of encouragement and interpretation of the surroundings.   The physical reality of the world may be explained to the child as he experiences new facets of the areas. Such concepts as driveways, garages, parking strips, trees, signs, mail boxes, to name a few,  are real physical things to which the child may be introduced.

Accompanying the physical maturation of the child, there must be a maturing of the social being.

The parents must be honest with the child as to the limitations and potentials of the child. These must not be the imagined measurements of the parents but realistic ones which may be engendered by the use of consultative agencies.

The child must be corrected in the same manner as are the contemporaries of his age group.   The child must be given daily tasks and responsibilities in the home just  as are the  siblings and the playmates.

This will aid the child in becoming familiarized with his role,  give experience in interaction of groups, and aid in the familiarization to particular areas of the home. The idea that a blind child is able to do several things as well is also served in this type of activity.

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The effect of blindness on child development

The effect of blindness on child development

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Another beneficial aspect which may result  from the above-mentioned pattern of parental guidance is that, by permitting the blind child to explore the physical world and make it meaningful, a pattern may be established in which the child is not satisfied to just let the world exist about him, but actually becomes curious about the unknown physical monstrosity in which he  exists.

It has been noted by several leading workers with the blind,  and we have all noted the same tendency, that the curiosity of the blind child is easily sated.

Encouragement  in the practice of seeking knowledge, investigating, identifying, and interpreting real life situations at an early age will make the instruction process  the persons who will be worrying with the child at a later date easier and much more meaningful to the child.

Now the child is ready to progress to the more formal learning situations which are found in the school setting. The work which has been done by the parents in the home will now be done by the classroom teachers and the houseparents in the residential school milieu; by the resource teachers in the integrated school program as well as other classroom teachers; and perhaps by the itinerant teacher in the home setting.

All of these people should be prepared to continue the concept formation pattern which has begun in the home.
Before we may expect these individuals to aid the orientation and mobility instructor by continuing this training, these persons should receive some forms of in-service training so that everyone is use the same language, so to speak.

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They must be appraised of the best methods of familiarization and orientation to classrooms, hallways, and the yard. They must know that familiarity with such concepts as north, south, east and west, for example, can be worked into not only the actual familiarization with the school itself, but that these and other similar concepts, lend well to the actual classroom learning situations.

The teachers who are working with the blind must utilize the same procedures as those utilized by the parents, i.e., they must permit tactile exploration followed by verbal description and interpretation, or vice versa.

A diversified physical training program should be offered so there the concept of the body and its limitations may take place.

Competitive sports activities which consider at all times the theory of the success pattern  should be encouraged so that the blind child is able to attain some form of physical and muscular toning as well as some form of status rank with the peer group.

It should also be remembered that sports activities have incorporated within them several forms of concept formalization   which will reinforce concepts introduced in other treas.   For example, wrestling aids in the formalizing of concepts concerning the body structure.

These are not the only reasons for the inclusion of these and other sports activities but were used only to cite the advantages inherent in these activities.

In the school, the pattern of assigning daily tasks and responsibilities to the blind child may become even more sophisticated.   For some, this may be the first opportunity to receive group experiences and responsibilities.

The teacher must be realistic in the appraisal of what types of responsibilities to assign the blind child but must not be assistant to require him to become active in this type of assignment.

Also, the houseparent in the residential school must require him to play the same type of active role in that particular setting.

Those working with the blind children,  particularly in the classroom, must be instrumental in the encouragement of helping the child be curious, and eager to explore not only the formalized textbook learning program but also the reality of the physical world.

Those persons involved in the school situation must follow up what the parents have started in the realm of corrective measures.   The blind child must not be permitted to do something which may be considered socially inappropriate, with the teacher rationalizing that the child is blind and does not know better.

Everyone, who works with a blind child in his early stages, acts as a social thermometer.

The corrective measures used, however,  should be fair,  realistic and meaningful for the
child.These, then, are some of the ways in which we feel that wee meaningful and accurate conceptual formations may be introduced to the blind  child.

We also feel that their inclusion in the child’s developmental process will not only have a positive carry-over into the mobility instruction program, but also in all new learning situations in which the child,  and later the adult, will embark.   We feel that the acquisition of more sophisticated concepts cannot accrue unless the more basic concepts which we have discussed have been introduced and assimilated by the child.

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Article source : Preschool Blind Child by Billie Taylor , Colorado School for deaf and the blind


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1 Response

  1. April 26, 2020

    […] The effect of blindness on child development article is about visual impairment and effects of  language development , psychological, behavioral, characteristics and other Issues.  read more […]

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