NC ELSSP-VI Newsletter

January 2020

Each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments

NC Department of Public Instruction

Exceptional Children Division


Amazing Kids - Staff

LL Cool Tech Tool Tips - Lori Bartram & Lori Persinger

ECC Corner - Karen Beijer

O&M for Little Ones - Nancy Kirby-Sauls

Professional Development Opportunities - Lin Causey

Staff Birthdays for January

Photo/Video Credits

LL Cool Tech Tool Tips

Braille Buzz

ECC Corner

Catkin and her mom, Amber, met Meg and I at the park to work on her goal of stairs, as well as on vestibular activities like swinging. It was a sunny day where there was lots of light and shadows too. Catkin has had a fear of stairs, yet is very mobile and was observed this day to run around the open field exploring different corners of the park independently.

She needed some verbal encouragement to climb the steps at the park and did so by crawling up and down them. She needed to hold onto her little latest favorite string toy for comfort.

We also exposed her to a swing for the first time. She was very reluctant to go in the typical bucket swing but sat very briefly in her mom's lap while Meg pushed the swing from behind. Catkin did not like the swing even though we all gave her lots of verbal cues and encouragement regarding how fun it is. She let us know she was not a fan.

Expanded core curriculum is something we as teachers of the visually impaired use all the time during our visits, whether it is outside of the house or at a home visit. The areas that we focused on this day were: recreation and leisure, social, sensory, orientation and mobility, and self advocacy. It should be also noted that the last time she had been at this park was in April of this year. She was very reluctant to walk over the different grading and thresholds on the rubber walkway to the pavement and the pavement to the grass. On this day, Catkin was seen running all over the park with no fears!

At my next home visit with Catkin, mom told me that she is now going up and down their stairs at home independently! She is also managing the stairs at her aunt's house where we do our home visits!

I encourage you all to revisit some of the places you may have been to with your families and see if there’s been any progress with your kids and see if you can relate them back to the ECC nine areas!

O&M for Little Ones

Adapted from the article by Carol Otten

“The area of orientation & mobility, with its emphasis on movement, actually encompasses all developmental areas.” Pogrund & Fassi, 2002

O&M Specialists must work closely with families, TVIs, and other therapists to educate and provide information about orientation & mobility (O&M) strategies and skills specific to each child. O&M can provide a valuable service and resource to families that have questions about independence, movement, and travel about their child.

The following areas for O&M assessment are important aspects of O&M for young children:

Sensory skills (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and proprioceptive, and olfactory)

Concept development skills (body awareness, spatial, and environmental)

Motor Development (fine and gross motor)

Children learn about themselves and the world around them through movement. Encouraging purposeful and self-initiated movement in children who are visually impaired should begin early and continue as children learn to move (reaching, rolling, creeping, crawling, cruising, walking) and then continue as they learn to move through and explore increasingly complex environments such as defined spaces, room, home, unfamiliar environments – neighbors and friend’s homes, community-grocery store, pumpkin patch, play environments, etc.

Some areas to look at with young children include: Is the child having difficulty walking-do they seem unsteady, have an awkward or atypical gait, trip frequently, or miss depth or color changes at their feet, then I think of O&M evaluation. As the child gets older, do they appear capable of walking but are still not able to walk, then I think of an O&M evaluation because it may be lack of vision that is preventing the child to move in open space. Or if a child is walking fine but is having other issues such as fear of depth and color changes, or going up and down stairs, and/or difficulty or refusing to walk on their own outside, then I think of O&M evaluation. If a child has low vision and I am not sure about their distance vision (beyond three to four feet), then I think of an O&M evaluation.

“Red Flags” that indicate consideration an O&M referral include:

1. Children cruising without any independent standing or steps in the child with significant visual concerns

2. Children already walking with obvious acuity and/or field loss

3. Children crawling with their head on the floor or bumping into objects as they are crawling

4. Children moving in other ways with tactile or auditory orientation versus using any vision if some vision is available (scooting on their bottom, adapted crawling methods, etc.)

If children are demonstrating some or all of these concerns, please do not hesitate to call your O&M specialist for additional information and to discuss your thoughts and concerns of the child’s needs. The O&M Specialist will assist with determining if this child is a candidate for an O&M evaluation.

Professional Development Opportunities

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Here are upcoming professional development opportunities. Contact hours obtained from attending these professional development opportunities may be used towards the maintenance of the ITF certificate. Click on the links to find out more information.

Jan. 7, 2020: Understanding How the Environment Shapes a Child's Nutrition Habits, FREE Webinar

Jan. 7, 2020: Exploring Values and Beliefs Around Parenting Webinar

This webinar complements the Foundations of Infant Mental Health in Home Visiting self-paced course.

Jan. 22, 2020: Promoting Effective Parenting with Motivational Interviewing Webinar

This webinar complements the Basics of Home Visiting self-paced course.

Ongoing: About Autism in Toddlers, FREE Webinar FREE Webinar


Starla Wilson - Jan 6

Kim Sawyer - Jan 20

Lin Causey - Jan 24

Photo/Video Credits