Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

How vision problems affect communication

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 6: Communication > How vision problems affect communication


a woman thinking while holding a crying baby.
You must be hungry.

A young baby can send messages about what he thinks or feels by moving his body (like turning his head), by making sounds (like crying), and by changing the look on his face (like frowning). Family members learn to understand what their baby’s messages mean and they respond.

a woman thinking while watching a baby who lies quietly.
Ali’s such a quiet baby. Maybe he doesn’t like to play.
All babies want to play. But this baby needs help to begin.





A baby who cannot see well may seem too quiet. He may send fewer messages because he may be trying to understand the sounds around him. His family can help him communicate by sending him messages in ways he can understand and by learning to understand the different messages he sends.


a woman thinking while looking at a baby.
When I smile, I wish he’d smile back.
If she tickles her baby, he may smile back.

Parents must learn to notice the different kinds of messages their babies send. A baby who can see, for example, uses eye contact to show he is paying attention. But a blind baby may move his hands or body to send the same message. Or he may get quiet so he can pay attention to what is happening around him.

Parents must also send different kinds of messages back to their babies. It is easy to forget that a baby cannot see his parents’ looks or smiles, and that they must send messages to him through touch and sound.


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