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Physiotherapist (Transcript)

My role is as a Physiotherapist for the Children and Youth Services at VisAbility and what I do in my role is, I help children to develop their gross motor skills [Voice-over: Annie, Physiotherapist] so that includes things like crawling sitting, standing, walking – some of those basic fundamental skills that are required to get us places, to mobilise, to sit up at a table, to eat dinner with the rest of the family.

Could you tell us something about how children with vision impairment learn motor skills?

Children with a vision impairment, in terms of learning gross motor skills it will be a slightly different learning process because, children who are fully sighted are able to do so much observational learning and so they can watch their parent get up off the chair or they can watch their parent walk around the house. Whereas, a child with a vision impairment doesn’t have that observational learning component and so that’s where it’s, there’s a lot more, there’s a lot more touch and guided facilitation using hands and sounds to help the child have that learning experience in the absence of, what they’d have with vision.

I can also help when the child is, once they go to school and that involves activities at school such as in physic classes as well as getting involved in sports teams is whether there be at school or in the community that also includes activities with the family at home, such as playing with their siblings or going out for, going out for adventures with their families is that it’s – I think some, some families with children with vision impairment they think that they’re very limited in terms of what they can actually do with their kids.

They you know, whether it be out bushwalking or doing things that they may typically have wanted to do before they had children, but the fact is that they still have the opportunities to do that it’s just a matter of both the kids as well as the families knowing the different things they need to be aware of to enable them access to those activities.

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

What helps me in my work as a Physiotherapist for children with vision impairment is certainly one part of it is being part of a multidisciplinary team. So, I work very closely alongside Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Psychologists and Speech Pathologists. As well as Orientation Mobility Instructors. So we all bring, we all bring special skills and knowledge to the team so that we’re giving the child a really holistic therapy approach – the child and the family a really holistic therapy approach. In addition to that is that, in addition to the therapy team at VisAbility is that we also, we’re writing input to the child and to the family but also to everyone else who has close contact with the child.

So that can be visits not only at home but then also at school, so that we’re having an engagement with the teacher as well as the Education Assistant, provide them education and advice in terms of – A: What we’re working on from a therapy perspective but – B: What can they do in their roles to best support a child with vision impairment. We also work very closely with the Sensory Vision teachers as well.

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

What inclusion means when it works well is that, the child not only feels like they are part of their peer group, but their peers also consider them, also perceive them as being part of that peer group as well and obviously a child with a vision impairment and or other additional disabilities, there will be differences there, but all children have differences to some degree, but it’s just a matter of-  inclusion means minimising those differences or working them into the peer group so that everyone sees everyone else’s equals.

VisAbility, website: www.visability.com.au

Phone: 1800 Vision