Behavior Issues in 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.

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Behavior Issues in Young Children with Visual Impairments

Behavior Issues in Young Children with Visual Impairments

Family Connect
Tips for parents on observing skills development, missing or delayed skills in children with visual impairments, and dealing with difficult or challenging behaviors.
Find tips to help you sort through why your child is displaying self-injurious behaviors and how you can help them stop.
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."
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.
Information about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and how it can help some children modify unwanted behaviors.
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.
Future Reflections, Fall 2000.
Some parents believe tactile defensiveness is over-diagnosed among children with visual impairments. Christine Faltz describes her experiences with her two children, and other parents contribute in the comments section below the article.
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 modified or eliminated. Other mannerisms arise from a need for cognitive stimulation. This section offers information about understanding children who exhibit challenging behaviors.
National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB)
Three behavioral characteristics are commonly 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.
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
Cindy O'Connell describes strategies for understanding and responding to challenging classroom behaviors whose causes are hard to identify. Also available as a PDF.
The charts in this 6-page document by Marilyn and Jay Gense compare typical development, development of children who are blind or visually impaired, and children who have autism as well as visual impairments. The charts focus on 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."
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
This webcast by behavior analyst Judi Beltis, discusses behavior triggers and effective reinforcement.
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.
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.


Web-Based Organizations and Internet Resources

Early Childhood Behavior Project – University of Minnesota
Since 1992, the Early Childhood Behavior Project has successfully developed and evaluated a training and technical assistance model which addresses 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."