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Presentation on theme: "THE VISION IMPAIRED STUDENT IN YOUR CLASSROOM - INDIVIDUAL, SOCIAL & FAMILY PERSPECTIVES Geoff Bowen Psychologist, Statewide Vision Resource Centre."— Presentation transcript:


2 CONTENTS 1.Are vision impaired students really different? 2.Living your life fully! 3.Families, grieving and disability. 4.Working with students in the classroom: –Discipline issues –Stepping back –Self Esteem?!

3 MISCONCETIONS ABOUT VISUAL IMPAIRMENT There are multiple causes and effects of visual impairment therefore it is difficult to talk about the educational, social and emotional impact except in very general ways.

4 However – issues to consider Approximately 75% of visual impairments result from some problem with aspects of the central nervous system. 60-70% of children with visual impairments will ultimately be diagnosed as having a secondary disability. 50% of blind children have a LD and 56% of those with severe LD or IQ<50 have autism (Steinberg et al., 2002)

5 Same abilities, personalities and basic needs as their fully sighted classmates. Regular classroom and follow the same academic program as other children. Biggest obstacle to their living and learning naturally is the attitude of other people who have normal vision. Most of them can see, although not well, so that while methods of instruction need to be adapted. There is no special psychology attached to being blind.

6 The teacher should be to evaluate his or her own feelings about visual impairment and about the child who has joined the class. As with other mainstreamed exceptional children, the attitude of the teacher will more than likely shape the behaviour of the children’s peers and ultimately the child’s own feelings and self-concept. (Bowd, 1986)

7 AFB – Living With Vision Loss Live independently and productively Read and write Raise a family Have a social life

8 AFB – Living With Vision Loss Travel Maintain a career—or launch a new one Enjoy recreational sports and games In short, lead a normal life

9 Unemployment - Australia “Surveys suggest that while people who are blind or vision impaired are eager to work (62% participation rate, which is high relative to other disability groups (ABS 1997), only 21 % are able to find work (RBS 1996: 101).” “BCA estimates that the rate of unemployment amongst vision impaired and blind people in Australia to be around 70 percent.”

10 Non-finite Loss And Grief Internalised expectations for their child and life. Discrepancy and tension between world that should have been, might have been and “what is” emerging. Losses that are contingent on development, time and dysynchrony with hopes, wishes, ideals and expectations.

11 Enduring presence of grief precipitated by a negative life event. Retains a presence - helplessness to fix - a ghost. Dreams, fantasies, wishes - loss captured in other people’s lives. Also - 20% of mothers reached criteria for diagnosis of PTSD [a general finding among victims]. (Elizabeth J. Bruce Parents of children with chronic conditions: The urgency of psychological first aid)

12 DEALING WITH FAMILIES “ At any given point, families need opportunities to express themselves, and they need acknowledgment of their feelings by others. They also need specific, relevant information regarding their child, presented in an honest, empathic manner.” (Cohen et. al. 1992)

13 “Grieving”: Helping Parents Loss and grief persist despite passage of time and age of child. Respect the ongoing grief associated with non-finite loss. Be aware that all responses to the loss are ways of coping. This is anything the person does, thinks or feels. Fathers often “under-dosed” on loss perspectives (no denial). Mothers “over-dosed” on loss perspectives.

14 Individuals will move through the process at THEIR rate. Try and be patient. Don’t take it personally. Be with the person, not solve their problem ( give advice when asked for). Allow the pain - enter into it/ not try to take it away.

15 Allow expression of feelings without judgement. Accept the story being told over and over again. Crisis or change may reactivate a more intense period of stress. Listen and hear what is really being said (Learn some basic counselling skills).

16 Communicate information in an honest and empathetic manner. Involve the client in collaborative problem solving. Our attitude can be disabling. Be aware of the needs of the siblings.

17 Ethnic differences. Be aware that different groups deal with disability in different ways. Information should be provided from a culturally relevant perspective and in language understandable to the client.

18 Encourage Parents to Get Help - If they are stuck with memories of the crisis and can't seem to get away from them. If they can't really accept your child as he is, but still believe that he will have great achievements in ways that he cannot. If they continue to be very angry or feel very guilty.

19 If they are still looking for a reason why it happened, after they have had all the possible information. If they still, after time, cannot see anything positive about their child's life (or if they cannot see any of the problems but think of it all as a blessing).

20 WORKING WITH VI STUDENTS IN THE CLASSROOM Beware the“slippery sided sympathy pit”. Remember if you do it right they won’t need you anymore! Step Back! Non-verbal discipline skills: “the look”, eye contact, body posture and teacher placement. VI students need considerably more verbal indication of where they are “at” with their behaviour.

21 THE “MOVING IN” APPROACH 1.Get close to the child and gain their attention i.e. arms length, eye contact and say their name. 2.Tell your child specifically what you want them to do in calm clear voice.

22 3.Give the child time to cooperate and encourage them if they do. If they argue stay calm and even drop your voice level and say something like: I hear what your saying but I want you to do..(Repeat the instruction). If argument continues; step 4. 4.Back up your instruction with a consequence. 5.If they do what they are told after the consequence, use lots of praise.



25 A Good Quality Of Life Includes Having Power And Control Over Your Life This Is: Self Determination

26 Essential Characteristics of Self-Determined Behavior Make choices and decisions as needed. Exhibit some personal or internal control over actions. Feel capable and act that way. Understand the effects of own actions.

27 Component Elements of Self-Determined Behavior Choice-Making Skills Decision-Making Skills Problem-Solving Skills Goal-Setting and Attainment Skills Independence, Risk-Taking and Safety Skills Self-Observation and Self-Evaluation Skills Self-Reinforcement Skills Self-Instruction Skills Self-Advocacy and Leadership Skills Self-Awareness Self-Knowledge

28 Self Determination & Stepping Back To assist VI students in developing self determination we need to learn how to step back and help VI students and all students with disabilities to do as much as possible for themselves, develop independence and only ask for help when they really need it. i.e. If I as a aide, teacher or psychologist do it right they won’t need me any more!

29 19 WAYS TO STEP BACK It often feels right to give help to students with visual impairments, but this may not be in their best interest. Use the following list to help yourself step back. Adapted from Classroom Collaboration, by Laurel J Hudson, PhD (Perkins School for the Blind) Available at: ntID=1573 ntID=1573

30 1. You’re stepping back so your students can step forward and become independent. Keep this in mind. 2. Pause before answering or helping. 3. Sit on your hands for a whole task while you practice giving verbal instead of touch cues. Hands off the hands.

31 4. If you need touch cues, try hand-under-hand instead of hand-over-hand. This gives students much more choice. 5. Acknowledge your impulse to make students' days go smoothly. There's a reason you chose the helping profession. 6. Sit further away. If you have been within arm's reach, sit just within earshot. If you have been sitting just within earshot, sit across the room.

32 7. Pat yourself on the back every time you help with seeing, not thinking. Your job is to give information. Record your and their behaviour over time – Functional Behaviour Analysis. 8. Even though helping can feel right, be aware that to much assistance is short sighted. Sometimes less is more, less is better. 9. Unless you are the Classroom Teacher, catch yourself before you correct students' work. Remember, this is about the students' skills... not yours.

33 Low self-esteem is a consequence of failing at school not the cause. The whole box and dice of successes and failures in the world cause self-esteem. Therefore if we teach the doing well bit of self-esteem, the feeling good, which we cannot teach will follow. People guided by the popular "feeling good" approach are ready to intervene to make the child feel better.

34 The "doing well" approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy intervene to change the child's thinking about failure, to encourage frustration-tolerance, and to reward persistence rather than mere success. The "doing well" advocates have a range of new psychological technologies that work, for changing pessimism into optimism and for changing helplessness into mastery.

35 Therefore! Increase student’s sense of mastery in their lives. Don’t cheat them and lie to them by trying to give false self-esteem. Self esteem grows out of challenge and mastery rather telling a child they are great regardless of what they do.


37 For further information about the Statewide Vision Resource Centre please contact us on: (+613) 9841 0242

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