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Provide a controlled environment (no visual clutter, no music/talking, no distracting smells, positioned in a comfortable supported way).
Wait time is very important! Be patient and allow time for the child to process what it is that you want them to do. This includes remaining silent while they process. “Over the past years, there has been a substantial amount of literature supporting the use of wait-time and constant time-delay procedures in special education settings. Many studies have compared brief and extended wait time on the performance of individuals with profound cognitive disabilities (Duker et al., 1993; Lee et al., 1987; Lowry & Ross, 1975; Valcante et al., 1989). That research reported that children with profound cognitive disabilities will more accurately respond with extended wait time. Constant time delay has been shown to be effective in teaching students of various ages with various disabilities (Daugherty, Grisham-Brown, & Hemmeter, 2001).” Johnson, N., & Parker, A. T. (2013). The effects of wait time when communicating with children who have sensory and additional disabilities. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness,107(5), 363-374.
Be aware of signs of fatigue or overstimulation in very young or sensory children. Expected signs would be crying or averting eyes, but less obvious signs such as repeated yawning, hiccups, out of control laughter, hands splaying open, or body tenseness should be watched for and shared with the Team. Pay attention to what else was going on at the same time. You may need to eliminate other sensory input such as talking, music, scents, touch, etc. You may need to have a rest period or focus on a motor activity that does not involve vision for a bit.
Positioning is very important. The child should be in a well supported position. Using muscles and mind to hold himself up may make using his vision impossible at the same time. Work with the family and physical therapist to find out how to properly position the child so that he can use “best vision.”
Use preferred color socks/mittens to encourage child to find his/her own feet/hands.
Use preferred colored baby bottle or wrap baby bottle with preferred color Mylar® paper or tape. If child is tube fed, mark tube feeding bag with Mylar® or tape. Build a bridge to understanding, “I am going to eat.”
Daugherty, S., Grisham-Brown, J., & Hemmeter, L. (2001). The effects of embedded skill instruction on the acquisition of target and nontarget skills in preschoolers with developmental delays. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 21, 213-221.
Duker, P. C., Van Doeselaar, C., & Verstraten, A. (1993). The effect of response delay on correct responding to instructions during communicative gesture training. Education and Training in Mental Retardation, 28, 327-332.
Lee, J., O’Shea, L. J., & Dykes, M. K. (1987). Teacher wait time: Performance of developmentally delayed and non-delayed young children. Education & Training in Mental Retardation, 22, 176-184.
Lowry, P. W., & Ross, L. E. (1975). Severely retarded children as impulsive responders: Improved performance with response delay. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 80, 133-138.
Valcante, G., Roberson, W., Reid, W., & Wolking, W. (1989). Effects of wait-time and intertrial interval durations on learning by children with multiple handicaps. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 22, 43-55.
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