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Social Skills for Children & Youth with Visual Impairments

By Tom Miller, M.A. — Read full transcript

Tom Miller, supervisor of the education partnerships programs at Perkins looks at social skills development for students with visual impairment, including analyzing and adapting teaching activities so students can learn social skills in an equivalent way to their peers. A related book entitled “Welcoming Students with Visual Impairments to Your School" is currently available for purchase in the Perkins Product store.

Chapters: 1 — Introduction; 2 — How Do We Learn Social Skills; 3 — Impact of Vision Loss on Social Skills; 4 — Observation and Assessment; 5 — Social Skills Learning; 6 — Providing Access to Social Learning Opportunities; 7 — Social Skills and Self Concept; 8 — Collaborative Process and IEP Integration.

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Webcast Transcript:


CHAPTER 1: Introduction

MILLER: Hi, my name is Tom Miller. I’m supervisor of the Educational Partnerships Program here at the Perkins School for the Blind. Today’s web cast is an introduction to a module which is part of a larger book called Welcoming Students with Visual Impairments to Your School.

The module we will be showing today is on social skills. It’s a way to look at social skills development for the student with visual impairments and begin to analyze and adapt your activities so that they can learn social skills in an equivalent way to their peers. The objectives of the module enable us to help understand the impact of visual impairment on social skills development.

Social skills are things that we take for granted. Very often social skills seem to be automatic for us. We don’t think about them. We look at people sitting in the room and we look at their body language and we say, “Oh, that person seems interested, they’re nodding their head.” Or we look at the person over here who has their arms crossed and they’re sort of fading to sleep and we understand that, you know. Right away we have to do something to change the context, to reinforce the social skills that - or the interaction so that we can be more dynamic, hopefully wake that person up and maintain the other person’s interest.

When you have a visual impairment, these things don’t happen automatically. We have what we call a loss of incidental learning. And you’ll hear that term a lot during this presentation because it’s very important to understand that when we use our vision to monitor our environment, we are doing it automatically. It’s cues that we’ve learned to interpret throughout our lifetime, and now we can do it like that. When you have a visual impairment, you don’t pick up on those subtle body language cues and you lose what’s called incidental learning. And we’ll try to illustrate that throughout this presentation. It’s important to remember that no matter what degree of visual impairment you have social skills development is going to require direct and effective intervention.

One of the key aspects around social skills that can be a problem is that many times because a student has a visual impairment or some other disability we lower our expectations. In the area of social skills, we need to have equal expectations for social skills development. We have to realize that their success or the success of the student with visual impairments later in life is going to be crucial or is going to be crucially based upon their ability to interact socially with peers; to interact socially with adults in the work place; to interact with other people in their environment. There’s a wide range of visual impairments, but at any level visual impairment creates, as I said, a loss of access to incidental learning.

Social skills development is a life-long process and successful inter-personal relationships are at the core of raising our self-esteem. Think about when you have a positive interaction with someone, how good you feel, all right. If you’ve gone into a job interview and you’re able to express yourself effectively and share your personality and have good body language and good appearance on that job interview, think about how good you feel; sometimes even if you don’t get the job. So being successful in interpersonal relationships will raise our self esteem and also our confidence to take risks.

Again, think about a child learning to ride a bike. When they first start out on the bike, they go along and they fall a lot and they feel like a failure. But then all of the sudden they go maybe 5 feet and they don’t fall right away, and then they go 10. They become more and more confident in themselves to take a risk, and that’s what’s important about social skills development.

Social Skills development is the groundwork which enables us to take risks. The better we feel about ourselves as a person and the better our successes are over time with our friends, with other people in the environment, the more likely we are to take risks and continue to develop socially.

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CHAPTER 2: How Do We Learn Social Skills?

MILLER: Social skills are at the foundation of everything we do. As I said earlier, social skills will support our academic learning, our independent living skills learning, our access to community experiences, relationships, and later on employment.

One of the key questions we have to think about is how do we continue to learn social skills throughout our lifetime? We need to understand that social skills’ learning is an on-going process. The initial bonding between the mother and the child, or the father and the child, is the first step towards social interaction and later social success.

As we begin to move along that, we develop that sense of trust in someone. The child knows that they can take a few steps, that they can begin to move away from the parent and begin to understand that they have people in their environment which - who will support them through social relationships and give them the space to grow and learn. This is what we do throughout our life.

Another analogy is later in life when you begin to date. That first date is a social step. It’s the opportunity to try and grow into a new relationship, to try and use our skills to form an interaction with another person that maybe will develop into a meaningful friendship, or some other significant relationship. The ability to take that step is grounded in your sense of self, your confidence in yourself. It’s grounded in your willingness to take risk. And all of that is developed through successful interpersonal relationships throughout our lifetime.

Most social skills are learned by repeated visual observation and connecting visual images. It’s estimated that 75 80 percent of everything we learn, we learn visually.

And again, just take a minute to think about this. When you walk into a crowded room, say you’re going to a cocktail party and you walk into a crowded room. How do you decide what group to go over to?

That’s right, you look around the room and you begin to think, all right. You begin to think about, “Well this group, they’re sort of dressed like I am, you know. Maybe they’d be a comfortable group to go with.” Or, “This group over here is laughing really loudly. They seem very animated, sounds like a good conversation to go maybe listen in on, see if I can become involved.” But we do it visually. Yes, you hear them talking but you scan the room to find out where they are.

And then you begin to go into the situation, judging their facial expressions, how they’re dressed and then say, “I’ll take a risk on this particular group”. Other groups you may shy away from just based upon the fact that maybe they don’t look like they’re very engaged. Maybe they’re all just standing around just staring at one another, and they’re not interacting, and you want to go into a more dynamic relationship.

So in that situation you’re reading body language, you’re reading facial expression, you’re listening to the cues, and watching how people are interacting to make a decision. And that’s what happens in every one of our social relationships. We interpret the situation based upon what we see, and then we move into the relationship, or we move away from the relationship based upon what we see and what we observe.

A student with a visual impairment starts off at a loss, all right. Every task offers them opportunities for social learning, but the social learning must occur in a different way, and there’s no better way to illustrate the issue around how vision impacts the loss of these social cues than by showing you a couple of video tape clips.

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CHAPTER 3: Impact of Vision Loss on Social skills Video Demo

MILLER: The first video tape clip will start out totally black and move to a low vision scenario. It’s a tape of students in a couple of learning environments within a second grade classroom. What you want to do is listen to the tape, watch the tape and try to jot down what social cues you’re picking up from what you hear, what you see, or maybe what you don’t see.

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: Multiple adults and children talking in a classroom setting.

VIDEO AUDIO:You’re all set. You have two. Okay? You’re all set.

Hi.

That’s a [loud voice].

Another problem?

They’re probably from the city and…

want to see what kind of library we have.

[Coughing]

VIDEO AUDIO: Is Christopher here today?

In that place…

That’s a lady bug.

Basically you had to…

No, that’s a person.

Oh, whatever!

All right. You’re practice area…

Science.

What the…

VIDEO AUDIO: Is that dragon’s eggs?

Get, it, get it.

Hold on. Hold on.

We’re all looking at the camera.

Second grade…

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: A female teacher reads a storybook to a classroom of children.

VIDEO TEACHER AUDIO: Two thousand year old true story about this small group of Jews led by Judas Maccabeus who didn’t want to worship statues of cows and give up being Jewish. So they fought against this huge powerful Syrian army but by a real miracle the Maccabeus won. Nobody in that story gave Hanukkah presents.

MILLER: The second video clip, which you’ll see now after having observed or not observed social cues in the last one, is more is the regular clip or is the same clip but in clear vision. You’ll see the whole scenario. You’ll see students participating in a library. You’ll see students having a snack together, students playing and interacting with one another.

And what I want you to do is as you look at this clip is begin to now jot down the social cues that you can pick up within the environment. You’ll probably find out that there are more cues then you can jot down. You’ll probably find out that, and hopefully understand that what happens socially, and many times, again, when we go into classrooms, you know, we say, “Oh, preschool is just about social skills.”

Well, as you watch these social skills in action, remember that those social skills are based upon cognitive learning, concept development, motor skills - the ability to move in the environment - to turn the pages of a book in this case, the ability to open up your own snack; visual cues, but also language, all right. All these factors go into social learning. Social learning is not an isolated event. Successful social learning is grounded in good developmental learning and task development.

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: Multiple adults and children talking in a classroom setting.

VIDEO AUDIO: You’re all set. You have two. Okay? You’re all set.

Hi.

That’s a [loud voice].

Another problem?

They’re probably from the city and…

want to see what kind of library we have.

[Indiscernible voices]

[Coughing]

VIDEO AUDIO: Is Christopher here today?

In that place…

That’s a lady bug.

Basically you had to…

No, that’s a person.

Oh, whatever!

All right. You’re practice area…

Science.

What the…

VIDEO AUDIO: Is that dragon’s eggs?

Get, it, get it.

Hold on. Hold on.

We’re all looking at the camera.

Second grade…

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: A female teacher reads a storybook to a classroom of children.

VIDEO TEACHER AUDIO: two thousand year old true story about this small group of Jews led by Judas Maccabeus who didn’t want to worship statues of cows and give up being Jewish. So they fought against this huge powerful Syrian army but by a real miracle the Maccabeus won. Nobody…

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CHAPTER 4: Observation and Assessment

MILLER: The next question we need to ask ourselves is: Are the social skills needed for success for students with visual impairments any different than those of other students? And the obvious answer is, no. We need to look at the social skills of students in the classroom environment and begin to understand the dynamics that occur there, at what age level do social skills demand change?

For example, for a young child some of the primary tasks are first learning to play and we all know play starts out solitary play, moves to parallel play, and then moves to cooperative or interactive play, all right. There’s a sequence there. To be successful at cooperative or interactive play, you have to know how to play in general. You have to know how to manipulate objects and engage with other people through language and communication. So the social skills of the child with visual impairment are still going to follow that progression and we need to be conscious of that.

Within the module of social skills development, thanks to Sharon Zell Sacks the author of Teaching Social Skills to Students with Visual Impairments available through AFB press, we were able to put in some handouts which illustrate the tasks of social development from infancy all the way up through high school. Just some examples of the challenges that occur at each of those different age levels, so now you can begin to think about the students within your classroom and what they’re doing, and how you need to affect change in order for the student with visual impairments to better learn social skills.

Ongoing observation and assessment are crucial to determine this match. Again, because too much of our social skills learning is incidental, we need to use tools like videotapes as an opportunity just like the ones you’ll see here a little bit later on, as an opportunity to look at, step back, assess and then decide on the steps we’re going to take to help the student with visual impairments better access the environment.

In order to really understand the tasks of social skills at different age levels, we need to be active observers within the classroom. There’s a term called ecological assessment where you look at the environment that you’re in and you study what non-disabled peers are doing in terms of their social skills, all right. You can use it across many other skill areas, but in this particular instance we’ll talk about social skills. How are the children in the classroom interacting with one another?

For example, one time we were trying to do an integrated program here at our preschool. And we brought in a group of 4 and 5 year olds and they started to do pretend play. And we had a child, who was totally blind, wanting to get into that play situation. At first we just stepped back and watched what they did and as they played we realized that much of the play of 4 and 5 years olds around pretend play is non-verbal.

They would hand this person the baby doll. They would hand this person the hairbrush. And they would not really talk during their interactions. And the child with visual impairments was left there saying, “Well what’s going on? Can someone help me? Tell me what’s going on!” And it made us conscience of the fact that we really had to first understand how children at different age levels interact with one another, and this goes all the way up through high school, but how they interact with one another by stepping back and observing.

To go back to my former example about the child who we were trying to engage in an interactive play group, and the children in the group were doing so many things non-verbally. And the child said, “Well, what’s happening?” What we did as adults in that situation is we began to interpret for them the non-verbal cues that they couldn’t pick up on. We also began to help those sighted peers understand that for this particular girl to find the baby bottle they had to hand it towards her and say here comes the bottle so that she could reach out and more effectively interact. As they became more competent and as the visually impaired student became more competent in terms of asking questions or jumping into the situation, we as adults could step back a little bit further. So it’s a bit of a dance, again, looking at stepping-in, stepping-out.

So to be effective facilitators, a good way to think of it is, we need to learn how to dance. We need to be sensitive as to when to step back and observe, all right; when to step in, when to help our partner through a certain move or a series of movements, and then to release them again so they can move on their own. So it becomes sort of a dance, an interaction between you as the adult, or sometimes a peer, and the child with a visual impairment or student with a visual impairment, in the given situation so that they can understand better the cues that are happening, or the things that are happening around them that they can’t see visually that we can pick up on. And then how to help them engage in those same activities, engage in those interactions more effectively.

Many times, another technique that you might want to use is that you want to pre-teach in situations. A good way to do that is through role-playing. A concrete example is we were teaching some teenagers about how to go out on a date. And what we did was teach them the steps of dating and then had them go through those steps, calling the restaurant to make the reservation, talking to the person they were going out with, asking them out saying, ”I have this evening planned for you”. Giving them the words and materials so that they could begin to reach out to other people in their environment.

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CHAPTER 5: Social Skills Learning Video Demo 2

MILLER: Every interaction is an opportunity to create or facilitate social skills learning. It’s important that we remember that this is a cyclical process. It requires observation of non-verbal and verbal cues. It requires us analyzing those cues. It requires us to develop plans and interventions, to implement those interventions, and then to evaluate them and start the process over again.

Unlike shoe-tying, where you can teach a student to tie their shoes, and once they’ve mastered that skill, they’ve got it and you move on to another skill. Social skills is a dynamic or requires dynamic learning. The social situations we find ourselves in from infancy to adulthood are constantly changing, all right, going out into the environment like going out to the mall, all right. Every time you go into a mall and you try to find help in a store, you try to interact with other people or you’re navigating the mall with your friends, it’s a new experience, you know.

Think about how sometimes each of us gets overwhelmed when we go into a mall in terms of building up the courage to go up and ask for help, finding people to help you, looking around situations and saying, “Oh, there’s something I’m interested in.” ”There are some people, again, I might want to go talk to or be with.” And how do you, again, approach that. Everything we do in social skills is dynamic and that’s the biggest challenge around teaching this skill is that it’s not something we do once and then move on. It’s something that as the child grows and matures, the demands and requirements change constantly.

Again, within the module there are two assessments that you can use to begin to plan your interventions. Number one, we observed and we looked at what happens in the environment. Number two, we do want to use assessments that look at what are some of the skills that students at different age levels should achieve. There are assessments by Sharon Zell Sacks, again, which we’ve been allowed to use by the American Foundation for the Blind Press and then a publication from the Texas School for the Blind on the visually impaired on independent living skills that deals with social skills, again, as a way for you to take in and look at the situation you’re in and say, “These are the next steps, these are the goals we need to achieve.”

What we’re going to look at next are two, again, video clips, and again, it’s just a way to sort of reinforce for you the issues around social skills or viewing social skills development through the eyes of a person with a visual impairment. It may be a little bit redundant to see this clip on top of the other clip, but we’ve found that repeated observations and experiences of what it may be like to observe the world through vision loss are important. That we as sighted people so often underestimate what we do with our vision that these video clips can oftentimes help you begin to think about, what are the impacts of this particular child’s visual impairment and how am I going to help them overcome those impacts to develop their social skills?

You’ll see two video clips. The first one will be low vision and you’ll be observing two girls at play. And the next video clip will be the same scenario in clear vision so that you’ll be able to then see what they were actually doing. Again, it’s important then that you use this time to maybe jot down some notes of your observations, what social skills cues you’re seeing. What are some of the things that you would think about that are being missed by a child with a visual impairment? And later on, the range of experiences that you can see once vision is clear, and then how would you intervene if you were to bring a child with visual impairment into that particular situation?

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: children interacting in a classroom setting.

VIDEO AUDIO: [Indiscernible voices]

You’re the one who wanted to…

[Crying]

[Clacking sound]

Right There. Erase that.

[Indiscernible voices]

Okay. Go ahead. Ow,

We were supposed to I don’t know why they didn’t notify us last week.

[Indiscernible voices]

I‘m a little confused.

We would normally send a notice.

Okay. I know that that’s Jen. Jen is the scheduler.

Okay.

[Indiscernible loud voices]

Maybe she wanted to…

[Scream]

[Indiscernible voices]

VIDEO AUDIO: Yeah, because his name is…

Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow…

Yes.

But, Rabow, I need you.

Rabow, Miss Churbon is waiting.

You need to find the toy you brought. <

You’re the one who wanted to…

[Crying]

[Clacking sound]

[Indiscernible voices]

Right There. Erase that.

Okay. Go ahead. Ow,

VIDEO AUDIO:We were supposed to I don’t know why they didn’t notify us last week.

[Indiscernible voices]

I‘m a little confused.

We would normally send a notice.

Okay. I know that that’s Jen. Jen is the scheduler.

Okay.

Maybe she wanted to…

[Scream]

> Yeah, because his name is…

Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow…

Yes.

But, Rabow, I need you.

Rabow, Miss Churbon is waiting.

You need to find the toy you brought.

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CHAPTER 6: Providing Access to Social Learning Opportunities

MILLER: We have a challenge here and that challenge is to provide more frequent and on-going access to social learning in the everyday life of the student with visual impairments. It’s very easy for the student with visual impairments to become very tied to a particular paraprofessional. It’s very easy for them to maybe be tied to one particular peer and what can happen in those situations is if it’s a paraprofessional or a teacher, it could be - it could be their teacher of the visually impaired, anyone who is too overly protective or doesn’t let the person take risks, doesn’t think about how to facilitate social skills and interactions.

What then happens is we have a student who becomes static, all right. Their skills are not dynamic. They’re not continuing to learn in the way that the other students are learning. So often, we see in working in the different community schools, that when the student reaches middle school, if their social skills are not intact, they begin to fall further and further behind their peer group, all right. Their peer group is now into dating. They’re into trying to find themselves and who they are.

The tasks are going to be the same for students with visual impairments. They need some additional supports at that time, but the more competence we’ve built into them over the early years to participate in social situations to analyze their social situations and to be effective, the better off they’re going to be when they hit the middle school years.

We need to think about how we provide frequent and ongoing access to social learning. Again, not to be redundant, but it happens that we’ll try within our classroom environments to set up social skills time. And again, think about your own life growing up, social skills were not just a time that was carved out in an IEP or a time that was carved out within your day that was recess. Even in the classroom you were engaged in social learning and social dynamics with your peers, with the teacher. These are all activities that if we’re not careful, the student with visual impairments will lose that access to unless we intervene effectively.

I mentioned earlier that we need to have high expectations for all children and youth, and that we need to understand what other children and youth are doing to set realistic goals. Again through good assessment and observation, we can begin to define what tasks we want the child to learn, how they can be more effective within the classroom, and build a firm foundation for later learning.

Again we can’t take social skills learning for granted or assume it will naturally occur without instruction. It requires direct intervention and specialized instruction. It requires teamwork as we’ll talk about later, by the teacher of the visually impaired, by the family, by the classroom staff and as much as possible engaging the peers within the situation.

One way to think of it is we need to help; hands become eyes and develop listening skills and interpret events unseen. Again, it’s that whole dynamic about how we’re going to bring the world to the student with visual impairments, or bring them to the world in terms of their social skills understanding or their social skills learnings.

Another good quote or way to think about it that I just recently read is a quote that said, “Inclusion is not geography,” all right. By putting a student with visual impairments in a classroom or in an environment of any type, even in an after school program without giving them the tools to access learning, especially in the area of social skills, to access participation with their peers. If we don’t give them those tools, then all we’ve done is put them in a classroom and not included them, but actually placed them on an island, all right. They’re going to be isolated from their peers unless we figure out ways to reach out and begin to really get them involved.

One good resource, that helps you look at how to involve students and how to step back and observe and facilitate is a book by Dr. Laurel Hudson called Classroom Collaboration. Within that book there is a poster that you can order for your classroom, free of charge called The Nineteen Ways to Step Back. It enables you to step back and think about or to look at situations that you’re in and then say: When should I step in; when should I help; when should I not? When can I give that child or student with visual impairments the opportunity to take risks and how often do I give them those opportunities? Do I over protect them? Do I not take advantage of social learning opportunities because we’re so centered on academic achievement?

Again, academic achievement and achievement later in life requires good social skills for you to implement what you’ve learned when you go into the world of work.

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CHAPTER 7: Social Skills and Self Concept

MILLER: Within social skills development, we also need to foster the development of self esteem or positive self concept that’s grounded in a sense of self confidence and self respect. Social skills are reinforced by positive self concept and self confidence is one arm of self concept talks about action, the ability to respond to life actively instead of passively.

We need to have the student with visual impairments become a dynamic member of the classroom, someone who is active within the classroom and who’s out there taking risks, because risk taking is at the basis of what we do. We can’t grow unless we take a risk. Again, think about all the different social situations you’ve been in life where you’ve taken a risk and you’ve stepped into a situation, it could be a new job, it could be a new school and you’ve gambled, all right. And because again you’ve had some good social skills underpinnings, you’ve had some good knowledge, you’ve got some good skills, you’ve probably succeeded.

Again, it’s the same for students with visual impairments. We need to have them take those risks because there are plenty of other times when we’ve stepped into social situations and we failed. And again, think about what you’ve done at those points in failure, you’ve stepped back and you’ve analyzed why. You’ve thought about what you could do differently. You go on a job interview and you don’t succeed. How can I change what I did so I’ll be more effective in the next interview?

Self confidence also has a sense of control. We feel better about ourselves when we feel that we’re controlling the situation. And again, you know, if you’ve been under the blindfold and you’ve had blindfold experiences, and someone’s tried to make you run when you’re under a total blindfold, and, you know, you sort of stop and shuffle your feet, and you won’t move forward as fast as you would if you didn’t have the blindfold on. You begin to realize that you’re, you know, not doing that because you don’t feel a sense of control.

That’s why good mobility skills, effective use of visual skills, tactile skills, all these things build the confidence and the ability of the child with visual impairments to control their world. They feel empowered, all right. When they make the change from Braille or when they understand the Braille code, it’s like a light bulb goes on and they become more successful at school work. Up until that point in time, it’s just like any child trying to learn a new task, they don’t feel in control. We do best, we feel better about ourselves, we have more self confidence when we feel that we can help and have some degree of control in the situation, even if it’s just simple choice making or decision making.

Self respect, the other arm of positive self concept is grounded in uniqueness, all right. Helping the student with visual impairments understand their special attributes and skills and characteristics so that they feel that they have something they can bring to the situation. That when they go into a play situation, it’s not that these children are the people who need to help me. It’s, you know, “Here I am, you know, maybe I can’t draw but I can describe things, I can do audiotapes.” You find some skill that they can use to really build up their confidence.

Another aspect of self respect is connective-ness or how we relate and connect and identify with others. Because successful relationships or feeling of belonging are important, again think about your own life. All those relationships that you formed, those friendships that you formed and how crucial they are to having you feel successful.

And then the last area is integrity. We have behavior that’s in harmony with our values and again, these are things that we need to encourage in the lives of students with visual impairments.

One way to do that is to think about using role models or adults with visual impairments as a means to help students with visual impairments better understand where, you know, they can go in life. By being exposed to positive role models of people with visual impairments, students feel a little bit more at ease with themselves, you know. Simple things like, “If I’m blind, how do I put on makeup?” “If I’m blind and I go into a restaurant, how am I going to be assertive enough to order my food?”

A good way to understand some of the issues confronted again by people with visual impairments is to read a book by Dean and Naomi Tuttle entitled Self Esteem and Adjusting to Blindness. This book from the perspective of individuals who are blind, raises your awareness as a sighted person relative to some of the challenges that not only the individuals face but then also ways that they’ve overcome the social challenges and issues around blindness.

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CHAPTER 8: Collaborative Process and IEP Integration

MILLER: Determining ways to help the student with visual impairments is really a collaborative process. We really need to work as a team on this. Again, it’s not going to be one person in the classroom that’s going to make or break the situation. The student with visual impairments spends a discreet amount of time with the teacher of the visually impaired. They spend a discreet amount of time with the paraprofessional. They spend time with their regular ed classroom teacher or the special ed teacher. They spend time with their peers. They spend time with their family. And in order for us to really be successful around improving social skills development for students with visual impairments, we need to work as a team.

Again, a social skill that we write into the IEP is not; “Will roll a ball to a friend”. Yes, that’s a social skill but our social skills that we need to develop have to be more dynamic, and we have to tie them to the fact that when the child is in arts and crafts there are opportunities for social skills development, that the art teacher or whoever is with the child can help or facilitate. When they’re in the library with their peers, there are opportunities for social skills development there. When they’re in small group projects within the classroom, whether they be science projects or simple math projects that they’re doing as a team, these are opportunities for social interaction that we as a team need to work collaboratively together to reinforce.

We need to be sure that social skills are an essential part of each student’s IEP and that, again, all the adults in the students life, and as much as possible their peers, help focus on social skills development. Within the field of visual impairments we have a concept called the expanded core curriculum. And within that expanded core curriculum, social skills is a primary piece of development. It’s an area that every child with visual impairments needs to be successful in, in order to access in all later learnings in life. We as a team need to work on those skills, we need to make sure that our IEPs reflect the full range of both issues and opportunities for students with visual impairments that will enable them to better learn and better grow in the area of social skills.

Just for your information, this complete book Welcoming Students with Visual Impairments into Your Classroom is available from Perkins School for the Blind. You can order it by going on our website under publications. And in the module itself, Social Skills is just one piece of the bigger module. It involves lessons on low vision; it involves orientation and mobility; and ways to adapt your classroom for low vision students. Again all the CDs within the module are very interactive and dynamic. And it’s meant to be a good training tool for the teacher of the visually impaired to use with classroom staff, to use with families and others to help them better understand ways that we can better include students with visual impairments in all aspects of the classroom curriculum.

Thank you.

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