“It is often said that play is a child’s work, and in fact, children learn essential skills through play. Communication, motor skills, cognition, and social interaction are a few of the developmental areas that are stimulated by play activities.” Toys and play for young children with visual impairments, Perkins School for the Blind

Learning through play in the early years

This guide is about supporting play for young children with a vision impairment. It covers early play, exploration and developing play. It also recommends ways of creating play environments as well as choosing toys and making treasure baskets and sensory development boxes.

“For children with complex needs, the greatest obstacle to play can be a vision impairment or visual processing difficulties.”   Play for children with complex needs,  Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Supporting people with sight loss

“The desire to play comes from within the child–it is not merely stimulated by objects or activities in the environment. What is intrinsically motivating to a particular child may be idiosyncratic. To capitalize on it, it is important to pay close attention to what the child likes to do and how he or she likes to do it and to begin by following the child’s lead in play. Attempts to expand or adapt behaviors that children are intrinsically motivated to participate in are more likely to be met with success.” Recchia, S. L. (1997). Play and concept development in infants and young children with severe visual impairments: A constructivist view. Journal of Visual Impairments and Blindness, 91(4), 401-406.

“Play is the universal language of children. Through play, children learn to problem solve, negotiate, and try out various roles, as well as to develop fine and gross motor skills. Children with undetected CVI face a multitude of social challenges in these areas. These children cannot play effectively because they may not be able to pick out a toy from  a toy box, may struggle to get the attention of a particular child on the playground because they cannot locate them, and may not be able to read the facial expressions of other children. They have difficulty participating in sports and athletics because they may not be able to identify team members, use vision to guide movement, track a ball moving at a fast speed, or generally move freely around a field or ball court. Children with CVI, who may perform inconsistently because of variability in what they see, may feel rejected as a result of behaviors that could have been prevented with a correct diagnosis and appropriate interventions.”
Pawletko, T., Chokron, S. & Dutton, G. N. (2015). Considerations in the Behavioral Diagnosis of CVI. In A. H. Lueck & G. N. Dutton (Eds.), Vision and the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children (p. 169). New York, NY: AFB Press.