Since we first posted Laura’s instructional videos for a range of Orientation and Mobility skills on the school website, she has drawn all 7 videos into an unlisted YouTube playlist. These videos are a very helpful reference for parents as children practise the relevant skills. (Thanks, Laura!) Well worth checking out if you have not done so already.
Topics covered are:
- Trailing Technique
- Diagonal Cane Technique
- Lower Body Protection Technique
- Upper Body Protection Technique
- Barrier Technique
- Systematic searching- Floor Technique
- Systematic searching- Table Top Technique
Here is the link to the videos playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoPmqoTLCSyogJTHJtKC3eLewTfkussx5
Here are the guideline notes for parents that accompany the videos:
The reason for the hand trailing technique is to help find landmarks, objects, or doorways while traveling next to a surface such as a wall. To begin, place the back of the hand on the wall with fingers slightly curved to prevent jamming them into door frames or other objects. You can have your child hold a small ball to get the feel of curved fingers. Have your child explore your home – finding door knobs, open spaces, and other fun places in your home.
It is also important for your child to be able to use both hands. Have them practice walking with their left and then right shoulders next to the wall and switch their trailing hand.You can also encourage your child to hold something in the opposite hand. This will be an important skill to learn when carrying a cane.
Diagonal Cane Technique
The diagonal cane position is one of the first basic cane skills your child will learn. This is primarily used for independent travel in indoor environments. It can help your child find doorframes or perhaps objects on the ground that are in their path but has limited coverage.
For the grasp, have your child hold the cane securely in the middle of the grip. They can use the index finger grasp or the thumb grip. The arm is placed in a relaxed position at the side of the body or for older and more advanced children – the elbow is brought forward. The cane is placed in the left hand and positioned diagonally in front of their body with the tip of the cane being at least 1 step length ahead of them. They can also practice using the opposite hand to trail the wall to provide additional information. It is important to practice this skill in each hand if possible so they can become more confident.
Lower Body Protection
In this video, Laura Cleary, O&M teacher, shows a technique to protect the groin and trunk. It’s easier to maintain than upper body protection and is a more subtle form of body protection. It is used to locate objects at, and just below, trunk height. It will enable your child to locate a chair, table, wall, person, etc. However, it will not allow them to find a box on the floor or a low coffee table, etc. To find objects lower down, they would need to use their feet and/or legs to locate and trail around them.
- The arm is extended forward and diagonally across the body with the elbow slightly bent
- Palm of the hand is facing toward the body at groin height and the arm covering body width
The action of reaching across the body can result in trunk twisting making it more difficult to walk in a straight line as the child may veer when crossing an open space
Upper Body Protection
In this video, Laura Cleary, O&M teacher, shows the upper body protection technique. This technique protects the head and, in particular, the face. It can be a difficult position for young people to sustain for long periods of time. It tends to be used when passing overhanging obstacles like tree branches, shelves or cupboards at head height. It should always be used when bending down, to protect our face.
- Bend arm and raise hand to position (back of the hand directly in front of the face with fingers spread open to cover a greater area and palm facing outwards
- With the bent elbow at shoulder height, extend the hand forwards and upwards to ensure whole of the head is protected.
- The hand (with the palm facing outwards as per the video) should be approximately 30cm from the face and fingertips just above the top of the head
This is usually the first body protection technique taught to a young child with visual impairment as it is relatively easy for them to manage. It offers good overall protection and also helps them to maintain a straight path when crossing an open space such as the corridors in school. It doesn’t help them to find a low object but will safely locate an open door.
- Starting with flat hands, one on top of the other with palms facing towards body, touch their tummy.
- Keeping hands vertical push outwards until positioned as of hugging a big beach ball.
- Elbows should remain slightly bent to cover body width.
- Hands must stay together for the “circle” to remain intact.
Systematic searching helps your child to locate objects in their immediate environment. The technique can be used to find objects on a table top or those that have dropped to the floor.
It’s best to make searching and finding fun as it will encourage your child to learn these techniques quickly so try to choose objects that can be easily found using a range of senses i.e. sounds and texture.
Table Top Search
This video demonstrates one of the table top searching techniques we call the “spiral search”. This skill can be started with young children when they are sitting on the floor in simple finding games and as your child gets older, sitting at a table allows a more structured approach.
The ability to find dropped objects quickly and safely is an important skill that can be applied to a variety of surfaces such as carpeted areas and wooden floors once understood.
When learning to locate an object on the floor, it is advised to first use a hard floored area and to use an item that will give a good audible clue.
Attentive listening and speed of reaction are important to accurately identify the direction and distance given by the sound of a dropped object. Your child then can use the spiral technique from the previous video but using their foot instead of the hands. Each foot does its own spiral search with the stationary foot acting as the reference point “X”. Your child can repeat the stepping and searching process until they find the item.
If balance is an issue they may prefer to kneel and use their hands to search using the spiral technique. Once they find the object it’s important they remember to use their body protection technique.