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Blind toddlers taught us about their gross motor delays

Updated: Jun 16

We too are worried with the world about the Covid-19 epidemic and we are sincerely hoping for a speedy cure. We have faith in and are thankful for the many doctors and scientists who are actively working on this problem for all humanity.

We need your help in solving the tiniest epidemic known to mankind that has raged for centuries in every part of the globe: Gross motor delays in blind and mobility visually impaired children.

Children's problems achieving developmental milestones when born blind has been described by scholars in every recorded century. In the past ten years, research studies on the physical education, language skills, social skills, and employment skills of blind children continue to report that the greater the degree of congenital visual impairment, the worse the outcome.

There is a direct correlation between severity of visual impairment and poorer developmental outcomes, but not for the reasons some have hypothesized. It is not because being blind makes you “unaware”. Nor does being blind make you “incapable of learning space”.

The blind child’s brain is perfectly capable of learning except when under extreme duress. Children who are blind or mobility visually impaired cannot explore with self-confidence, because when they walk without mobility tools they are unable to predict and avoid bodily collisions. Children who experience unavoidable bodily collisions are growing up under duress.

Charna is kneeling, her left hand is reaching for the toy, the belt frame is pushing against the wall.
Charna kneels down to grab the school bus toy.

Global developmental delays result when mobility visual impairment or blindness prevents children from sustaining the 18-month motor milestone, “walks well, able to avoid collisions.” The more toddlers who are blind or mobility visually impaired attempt to move through space without mobility tools, the more collisions they sustain.

Children who are blind or mobility visually impaired who achieve the 18-month gross motor milestone, have been found to regress from moving freely to the 12-month-milestone, “walks only with assistance (cruising/holding hands)”.

     The simplest explanation for this common motor skill regression is that blind children have learned that the only way they can avoid bodily collisions, is to stay in one location until help arrives.

Blind and mobility visually impaired three-year-old children who are only able to walk with assistance are not able to confidently join social groups. No matter how many times a sighted person prevents a blind child from a collision; toddlers can only gain self-confident travel when they can save themselves from collisions.

Blind toddlers have less difficulty learning anything when they can navigate without direct bodily collisions from a very early age. The belt cane is effective because it blocks sudden, bodily collisions, and because it provides information about the walking surface, including the location of drop-offs.

     The outcomes of wearing belt canes include more highly social blind children with improved language skills. The children are more connected to their world and they are better oriented.
Charna's left leg and left arm are both reaching for the school bus toy. Her left foot is touching the toy.
Charna extends her left leg to find the school bus toy.

Self-confident blind children wearing belt canes inspire new curriculum topics: For example, how to teach two-year-old girls who are blind to keep up with the family group during a walk in the park when they refuse to ride in the stroller and don’t want to hold anybody’s hand (Nov. 4).

Charn repleces her left foot with her left hand, she is grabbing and pulling the school bus toy towards her.
Charna grabs the school bus toy with her hand.

Charna’s family uses voice calling (Sept 4). to help her follow them on sidewalks, at the zoo and in parks.

Wearing her belt cane at home, Charna is underfoot in the kitchen (Dec. 17) and she knows how to wrangle toys that go under chairs (June 11).

Success! To the victor go the spoils.

In the park, Charna is confident enough to refuse help from strangers and independently seek out her dad. As soon as she hears him, she puts on a huge smile and moves directly to him with her trusty belt cane leading the way. She doesn’t want to hold dad’s hand; she just wants to walk and talk with him.

Now, those are some age-appropriate social skills.

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