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Occupational Therapist (Transcript)

I work with families and children to support them – I guess to do whatever it is that they want to do. So their everyday occupations

[Voice-over: Isabelle, Occupational Therapist] so it might be play or school or learning to tie their own hair by themselves or do their shoelaces things like that. I go to schools and childcare centers and the home and so work with the children in there like everyday environment so things are out in the community. So talk to everybody that’s involved with the child to find out where it is that they might need support or I guess additional intervention and then based on the parent goals which is sort of usually in conjunction with everybody that is involved with the child will sort of work towards whatever it is that they are having difficulties with.

What is important to consider when working with a child with vision impairment?

In the classroom there’s lots of different things like the lighting, so often the children are quite affected by the glare which might be coming from the overhead lights or from the windows so where they’re, where they’re seated in the class. Anything that they might need to support their vision, so if they need increased fonts on their worksheets or enlarged paper using a tilt board or any other vision aids and

I guess one of the biggest things that I find with kids with vision impairment is to think about their social interactions. I find that a lot of them have difficulties with – I guess making friends, keeping friends, things like that and it’s because of their vision I think they miss sort of visual cues and their everyday gestures and facial expressions that other children you know, just it’s just natural to them so that makes yeah social interaction is just quite difficult for them, so that is one area that I particularly think about with kids. Sometimes it can be quite explicit teaching like if they’re you know, very low vision teaching them to look at the person that they’re talking to and to listen and to join in to you know try to listen to what’s being talked about so that you can go in and ask a relevant question so we might do role plays or, it with just a child or even with a child and some of their friends that are sighted. Or we might just incorporate it into everyday games where it’s not you know they might not realise that that’s what we’re focusing on but we’re trying to get them to turn, take and be aware of their peers around them and things like that.

What helps you in your work with children, families and schools?

Things that help me, I guess are, getting to know the families. I guess finding out a bit about their background and what is important to them, what it is that’s most concerning to them for their child and sometimes helping them to understand

I guess, you know maybe what a typical typically developing child might be doing a child with vision and what they can expect from their child.

Sometimes even just helping them to understand that they don’t need to necessarily change their expectations of their child like, you know they sometimes you sort of see families that are sort of saying, well you know they might not be able to do this or that because of their vision impairment. So helping them to understand you know, like your child could potentially do those things with the right supports in place. So yeah I think that really just getting to know the families and building a relationship with them is really important to sort of then be able to support them in an ongoing way.

What does inclusion mean and what does it look like when it’s working well?

I think that inclusion is when the child is able to join in with their peers in what I like, whatever it is that they might want to do. So I guess I feel that it’s putting in place whatever it is that they might need to enable that to happen, so you know if it’s putting bright markers in the playground so that they can find their way by themselves or giving them the right aids that they might need as in vision aids and things like that so that they can participate as just as their peers do.

Yeah, I think it’s having an understanding that just because the child has a vision impairment or any disability, it doesn’t mean that they can’t join in whatever way that they can like it might be in a different capacity to a sighted child or a child with a disability, but they can still you know join in.

VisAbility, Website: www.visability.com.au

Phone: 1800 VISION