If your child has a vision impairment, they’ll need to learn about and explore the world in a slightly different way. We’re here to support you and your child develop the practical skills and confidence to do just that.
Our specialist Habilitation Service can help your child develop a wide range of skills, with the focus on key early years development areas such as early movement, self-help practical skills (including feeding and dressing), and social and communication skills.
My Time to Play Programme
Guide Dogs’ My Time to Play is a free service that helps children with sight loss aged from birth to four develop a broad range of skills through play in a group setting (both in-person and online). As a parent, being in a group means you’ll be able to meet people who are in a similar situation and share experiences with them. You’ll also pick up the skills and knowledge that will help you support your child’s early years development with confidence.
The programme focuses on five key areas of your child’s development:
- Concept development – concepts form many rules in routines, such as the concept of time – when we eat, sleep and play; support actions such as placing a teddy bear on a chair or a ball into a box; and spatial awareness of something being in front or behind. Concepts also help when describing things, for example their pillow being soft or the table being hard.
- Sensory skills – your child can learn so much about the world around them using their other senses. Touch and sound can be key to helping them move around and participate in activities, so it’s crucial they feel confident exploring different textures, sounds and smells. Senses also play a key part in understanding movement – whether walking fast or slow, bending, stretching or off-balance.
- Fine and gross motor skills – to become a confident little mover and explorer, your child needs to develop a broad range of movements and skills. From rolling, sitting and crawling to walking, or reaching out to grasp their favourite teddy, using a spoon and taking a drink, or helping to put their clothes on. Many of these early movement skills are visually motivated, so your child may need a little bit more help.
- Self-help for children – it doesn’t take long for your child to take their first steps towards independence, starting with holding their bottle. With a little help, this can soon develop to feeding themselves with their fingers, learning to brush their teeth and helping when you’re dressing them.
- Communication skills – communicating in a way that your child understands is vital, especially if they’re unable to see visual cues and information. You may need to give your child more verbal information and description during play and other activities, so they can develop their early communication and language skills.
What do the sessions involve?
My Time to Play is a programme of fun and supportive group sessions, led by our Habilitation Specialists. The sessions are designed to help your child develop a broad range of skills and encourage them to use their non-visual senses. Each session is based around a sensory story and includes songs, movement and related activities.
From September 2021, we're offering in-person sessions in the following teams:
- Scotland, Shrewsbury, Leamington & Birmingham, Southampton, Leeds, Exeter, Belfast, Newcastle and Maidstone.
For all other areas, we're currently offering virtual sessions via Zoom and will move to in-person delivery in September 2022.