Orientation & Mobility

Children With Developmental Challenges 3(2+1)

Lesson 11 : Sensory Impairment – Visual

Orientation & Mobility

Orientation is the ability of the visually impaired child to perceive and understand his/her position and location within a given environment. Mobility is the ability to move about within a given environment. These abilities do not suddenly appear at a specific time or age, but have an underlying conceptual foundation which begins at birth.

For visually impaired infants, many factors contribute to the quality of these emerging conceptual foundations: the quantity/quality of available vision; whether that vision will remain the same, improve, or deteriorate; whether there are other disabilities (hearing, motor, tactual defensiveness, impaired senses of smell or taste); alertness/receptivity. Initial mobility factors are largely motor-based, and depend to a great extent on the development of the motor system. Milestone skills such as head control, sitting unsupported, independent hand/arm use (as in grasping and reaching), creeping/crawling, standing alone, and walking independently are all pre-mobility skills.

Once upright posture and balance have been achieved, a higher level of development can occur. Body image/body control (the child's perception of his/her own body and what it can do, and the understanding of other people's similar capabilities) combines emerging cognitive abilities and spatial recognition (that there is space "out there"). When this level of understanding has been reached, there can be coordinated and purposeful movement in the environment (towards or away from people, objects, sounds, etc.). This environmental interaction provides opportunities for the orientation of the child within his/her world (concept development) and mobility.

Last modified: Tuesday, 10 April 2012, 10:55 AM