The early years are crucial for children's development. From finding accessible toys and games to supporting the development of social skills and learning we can help.
As a parent or carer, your role in the happiness, development and progress of your child is huge. There may be a lot of professionals involved in your family life because of your child's vision impairment, but try to remember that you are in charge, and that your own instincts are probably right! You are the expert in your own baby, and the other advice and support that is available for you can fit around your little one as a unique person.
The Developmental Journal for babies and children with vision impairment (DJVI), developed by Great Ormond Street Hospital Developmental Vision team, is a structured early intervention programme to guide and support your child’s development and learning in the early years. Your child’s health professional, Qualified Teacher of children with Vision Impairment (QTVI) and Habilitation Specialist can work with you to use the DJVI to track, shape, support and celebrate your child’s new skills and abilities as they grow.
Recent research carried out by Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Developmental Vision team /UCL (commissioned by RNIB, Fight for Sight and GOSH Children’s charity) has provided evidence that children aged 0-3 with severe vision impairment being supported using the DJVI make better progress in their development and behaviour than children receiving other forms of support and parents also feel better assisted.
The RNIB’s early years policy statement has been updated to reflect these research findings, and to promote use of the DJVI as best practice.
The DJVI should be delivered as part of the support provided to you from your health and local authority vision impairment service (QTVIs and Habilitation Specialists), and they will have a professional licence and training to use it in their support of your child.
If your child is not currently being supported with the DJVI, you can ask your paediatrician or QTVI about it, or contact [email protected] for further advice.
We have produced a number of guides to support you and your young child. Download our early years guide for advice on choosing an early years setting for a child with a visual impairment:
Our Focus on foundation guide offers practical ideas for the successful inclusion of children with sight loss in early years settings including reception classes. It is written for all who work in early years settings but may be of interest to parents:
The following mobility and independence guide has information on movement in the early years for children with vision impairment. It suggests ways of encouraging mobility from birth onwards, including for children with complex needs. We also cover some ideas and tips to help you with teaching daily living skills for this age group:
In the following guide we explore social inclusion and social bonding at Nursery level, looking at some ideas to encourage blind and partially sighted young children learn to socialise and make friends:
Infant massage is wonderful and supports the development of blind and partially sighted children. Read our guide for more information:
Learning through play in the early years covers a range of topics including advice on play, movement and touch as well as suggestions for how to create treasure baskets and sensory development resource boxes
Our Play guide outlines the importance of play for children with a vision impairment. It describes different types of play and provides information on choosing toys and creating play environments to support children in their play:
The Early Years pages in our Education professionals section have guidance about all aspects of early years development.
We have put this material in our Professionals section in order to enable early years staff and childcare workers to improve their provision for babies and children in early years settings. It has all been written to be accessible and useful for parents too.