Behavior Issues in Children with Visual Impairments

Behavior Issues in Young Children with Visual Impairments

Any child may develop problem behaviors, but young ones with blindness or visual impairment are at risk for specific inappropriate behaviors, including repetitive mannerisms and self-stimulatory patterns. Parents and teachers will find explanations that help in understanding the reasons for the behavior, advice for appropriate interventions, and suggestions for reinforcing desirable behavior that will enhance the child's social success.
U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
Dixie Jordan's overview helps parents "understand problem behaviors …. If we learn about the behaviors and know when and where they are likely to happen, we can plan positive strategies to teach new behaviors."
Beach Center on Disability
This is a brief introduction to conducting a functional behavior assessment, which helps determine probable causes and sets the stage for developing a Positive Behavior Support Plan.
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
Kate Moss and Robbie Blaha look at self-stimulation as a common behavior during leisure time. They consider whether such behaviors can be stopped or redirected, and whether modifications of the behavior and the environment may be appropriate.
This phenomenon is described by some child behavior therapists as a type of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) often associated with autism. Tactile defensiveness can complicate tactile learning in children with visual impairments. The phenomenon is also debated by many parents of children who are blind or visually impaired. For a skeptical view, see this summarized discussion between National Federation of the Blind members, as posted in Future Reflections.
Children with multiple disabilities may exhibit difficult behavior. When family and teachers see the undesirable behavior as a communication cue and learn how to understand and respond to the child's needs, many times the behavior can be modifying or eliminated. Other mannerisms arise from a need for cognitive stimulation. This section offers information about understanding children who exhibit challenging behaviors.
Helen Keller National Center (HKNC)
Three behavioral characteristics are found among individuals with congenital rubella syndrome. Author John Walters stresses the necessity of understanding the whole person and the function of behaviors before considering intervention.
Cindys Corner, Perkins School for the Blind
Cindy O'Connell describes a methodology for documenting student behavior for identifying, understanding, and responding to triggers for individual behavior.
This 6-page document by Marilyn and Jay Gense can be used "to inform and direct the family and the rest of the team for an in-depth look at the possible identification of ASD in children who have a vision impairment." It provides four charts that compare typical development, blindness and visual impairment, and Autism Spectrum Disorders in the areas of communication, social interactions, patterns of behavior, and responses to sensory information.
Texas State School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
This article by Terese Pawletko and Lorraine Rocissano compares the presentation of similar behaviors in children with blindness and autism. "Historically, many of the behaviors exhibited by blind children were labeled as "autistic-like" but were attributed to their blindness. We seek to clarify some of these misconceptions."
U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) – Ideas that Work -- Parent Kit
Dixie Jordan's overview helps parents "understand problem behaviors …. If we learn about the behaviors and know when and where they are likely to happen, we can plan positive strategies to teach new behaviors."
Central Michigan University
Tim Hartshorne uses Positive Behavioral Supports for examining the behavior, social skills and environment of children who are deafblind, then employs Person-Centered Planning and Circle of Friends models to develop behavior intervention plans.
Deafblind International
Heather Murdoch looks "at the roles which repetitive behaviors may play in children's development and the ways in which educators interpret and respond to them."
National Center on Deaf-Blindness
V. Mark Durand and Christie Tanner use functional behavior assessment to determine why behavior occurs and to design an intervention plan. They offers some specific tips for assessment and for reducing behavior problems.
Perkins School for the Blind
This webcast demonstrates strategies for teaching social skills to students who are visually impaired or deafblind on a level equivalent with their peers.
The National Autistic Society
This article examines the relationship between autism spectrum disorders and visual impairments, and includes a resource pack prepared by RNIB.

Web-Based Organizations and Internet Resources

Early Childhood Behavior Project – University of Minnesota
The purpose of this web site is to discuss positive behavioral supports for young children who engage in challenging behavior. 
PBIS was established "to address the behavioral and discipline systems needed for successful learning and social development of students." The Center provides information and technical support "to assist states and districts in the design of effective schools."

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