Sensory efficiency skills include instruction in the use of residual vision, hearing and other senses including use of tactual, gustatory, and olfactory input to identify one's personal possessions or use hearing and other senses to identify people. This section provides information on skills and strategies for instruction.
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By: Carmen Willings
Since listening skills will be a major source of information for a student who is blind or visually impaired, it is important to develop good listening skills when the child is young. It is also important to continue to build on those skills as the student progresses through grades.
Assist the student in developing their auditory skills by encouraging them to do the following:
Encourage the student to reach for, move toward, and locate a noise stimulus. Choose toys or sound producers that are age appropriate. At first, a toy can be placed just outside the students reach. If encouraging a student to walk, a toy or iPod or other sound producing item can be placed in a location within the room. Make it a game that the student must find the noise source. Place it next to tokens or "rewards" (this can be tangible or simply praise) that the student receives each time they locate the sound.
Encourage the student to respond to auditory directions regarding safety (e.g., stop!). This can be practiced during games as well as during transitions, but it is very important that the student understands and responds to safety words especially if they are to travel independently on foot or in a wheelchair (for their own safety and the safety of others).
Encourage the student to identify and label a variety of environmental sounds. Although animal sounds is a favorite in preschool toys, there are many other important environmental signs that a student needs to learn. This is particularly important for students who are relying on auditory cues to orient themselves to their environment.
There are some commercially available games such as sound lotto that include a range of environmental sounds as well as children's apps. You can create your own sound matching game by recording sounds from the student's environment and also from field trips (animals, musical instruments, emergency, balls bouncing, pencil sharpener, doorbell, toilet flushing, etc.).
Encourage the student to place their body in relation to a sound. This skill can is a functional skill for orientation and mobility and for safety as well. It can be practiced in fun ways by making a game of pointing to a sound source, pointing and tracking a moving sound source and turning their body in relation to the source. Just as you would do in a game of Simon Says or change the words to a fun song. Put your back to the "sound", "put the sound on your right", etc.
Once the student has developed basic auditory and listening skills, help the student to begin deriving meaning from the sounds. Encourage the student to:
Play back the sounds that were recorded throughout the room, school, neighborhood or field trip in the community and challenge the student to recall what created the sound and where that sound can be heard. Extend the activity by encouraging the student to identify if the sound was loud, moderate or soft in its intensity.
I absolutely HATE the "guess who this is" game that many adults seem drawn to "play" with students who are blind. It usually goes something like, "Hi, Mary, guess who this is???" What a horrible way to put someone on the spot. Please know that this is NOT what I am referring to when I suggest that students should be encouraged to identify familiar voices. Students should be encouraged to identify familiar voices - not those they have only met a couple of times or have infrequent contact with (Refer to etiquette) but those they have daily or regular interactions with.
Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn by Lizbeth A Barclay is published by the American Foundation for the Blind. This text provides a systematic development of skills in listening for and interpreting auditory information. Barclay discusses instruction in listening skills at different ages and it includes a continuum chart and a checklist to use in assessment.
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ECC Complete Set Bonus Pages
Purchase the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set and immediately unlock the pages within the ECC Complete Set Bonus including bonus printables, interactive sensory stories, interactive matching activities, interactive choice making activities, job task box activities and MORE! This is my way of continuing to support you and say "Thank you!" for choosing to purchase the Complete Set.
TVI's Guide Complete Set Bundle + BONUS Resources
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The TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set includes the following:
The LOTTO Cards Grab and Go Supplement includes 37 theme related unit cards along with activity suggestions that support activities within the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC.
On My Way File Folder Cards
Print and use these cards to represent locations the student may visit that are related to the current thematic unit. Use these with the On My Way File Folder Game outlined in the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC p. 27.
NEW! Access to TVI's Guide Bonus Membership Pages
Bonus pages include tutorials, printables, interactive sensory story downloads, and interactive choice making computer games (PowerPoint based interactive games), and job task activities.
All products are digital pdf downloads. Once you make your purchase you will be directed to an order confirmation page where you will find the download link. This download will also be included on the receipt sent to the email address you provide. The pdf download can be found directly under the order number. If you encounter any difficulty, please let me know and I can assist you. Once you purchase the complete set you will have immediate access to the bonus pages!
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