Diagnoses and Strategies

Pediatric Visual Diagnosis Fact Sheets

This collection of fact sheets contains information on six common visual diagnoses as well as information on eye specialists and vision assessments. Content topics below such as “Visual and Behavioral Characteristics”, “Myths” and “Teaching Strategies,” make these fact sheets useful to a wide audience including families, therapists, and medical and educational professionals who work with children with visual impairments.  To view or print out Fact Sheets, just click on the title below, in English or Spanish:

Community Fact Sheets

Infants & toddlers with visual impairments have unique needs which require specific interventions and adaptations in order for them to access and begin to understand their world. These Fact Sheets are designed to be used individually or as a set by families and professionals.  The settings presented in this series are those most often encountered by young children: The Home, Medical Visits, The Community, and Toddler Programs.  To view or print out Fact Sheets, just click on the title below, in English or Spanish:

Printed sets of the Pediatric Visual Diagnosis Fact Sheets and Community Fact Sheets, in English and Spanish, are available to the public for a $15 minimum donation per set, which includes all of the fact sheets on durable card stock paper enclosed in a portfolio folder.  The fact sheets are also available in alternative formats, including electronic generic text.  Please e-mail us if you are interested in requesting Fact Sheets, or contact our main office at 510.446.2229 for more information on our publications.  Individual fact sheets are available at no cost to families in English and Spanish.

Early Intervention

Early vision loss affects every area of development including cognitive, social, emotional, communication, self-help, and both fine and gross motor skills. The educational and developmental needs of children with vision impairments can best be assessed and interpreted by qualified educators.

A baby who is born blind or visually impaired experiences the world differently. Since 85% of all early learning is visual, the child who is blind or visually impaired is at great risk for developmental delays. Effective and intensive intervention is imperative in the early years to enhance available vision and encourage the development of other faculties and skills.

When a child is born with, or acquires a visual impairment, the family is challenged to understand the visual diagnosis, the impact of vision loss on development, and to begin to bring the world to the child. Without a dependable visual system, the child with vision loss is called upon to understand the world through incomplete messages from the other senses. The child needs to organize this incomplete information and then respond to what may be a confusing view of the world.

The child cannot learn everyday tasks by observing others. As a result, the ability to understand basic life concepts, and the process of accomplishing most daily activities, is seriously compromised. For example, the child who is unable to see family members going through the steps of preparing a meal misses valuable understanding of how things happen in daily life.

Family members provide the link to the world for the child with vision impairment. Carrying the baby in a front pack while doing chores around the house, setting aside a drawer with interesting and safe kitchen items for play, taking a sensory walk around the neighborhood, or describing everyday noises to the child are activities that make the connection to people and events in life. The child becomes most familiar with these routines by doing them again and again with family members and friends. At first, the child may be hesitant to touch things, but gentle encouragement over time helps the child to place little hands on toys and real objects.

Following are some resources that may be useful in understanding the development of young children with vision impairments:

  • Watch Me Grow! (in English and Spanish), Blind Children’s Fund
  • Get A Wiggle On, Blind Children’s Fund
  • Move It, Blind Children’s Fund
  • Learning Together, booklet from American Printing House for the Blind
  • The Premature Baby Book by Helen Harrison, St. Martin’s Press, 1983

The following resources provide valuable information about children whose multiple impairments include vision impairment:

  • Starting Points, a book from Blind Children’s Center
  • MRI: Tool, Not Predictor, a video from Child Development Media, Inc. (see Links section)
  • Books by Dr. Lilli Nielsen, from Vision Associates *
  • Infant Massage: a handbook for loving parents, by Vimala McClure Schneider, Bantam Books, 1982. Available at major bookstores

Choosing a program for a young child with vision impairments can require research. Each community has a different set of early childhood program options. Every child is unique and available programs provide a unique set of elements to be matched with the needs of the child.

Following is a sampling of resources that provide information on preparing for school and the program selection process:

  • Selecting a Program, a booklet from Blind Children’s Center
  • Getting Ready for School, a booklet from PAVII Project, American Printing House for the Blind
  • Children with Visual Impairments: A Parents’ Guide, by Cay Holbrook, Woodbine House, 1996. Available at major booksellers.

This information provides a small measure of the valuable information available on the diagnoses and development of young children with vision impairments. We hope it will get you off to a good start!