Hesperian Health Guides

Early Stimulation

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 30: Blindness and Difficulty Seeing > Early Stimulation

As Rani’s grandmother realized, a child who is blind has all the same needs as other children. She needs to be loved, not pitied. She needs to get to know the members of the family, and other things, by touch, sound, smell, and taste. The whole family can help her to become more aware of her home, and the things that are going on around her.

A baby’s first plaything is her own body. Since she cannot see her hands and feet move, you may need to help her to feel, taste, smell, and explore them.
a person talking while touching a baby's foot.
This is baby's foot.
Have him compare by touch and sound his own and other people’s faces so that he begins to recognize different people.
a woman talking while holding a baby's hand to her mouth.
Here is mama's mouth.

Activities to help a child develop early skills more quickly are discussed in Chapter 35. Most of these activities can help a blind child. But because he cannot see, he will need more stimulation in other areas, especially sound and touch, and in beginning to reach toward things and move about. Use toys and playthings that have many different shapes, feel different to touch, and make different sounds (see "Toys Children Can Make" and Helping Children Who Are Blind).

At first you may need to place the toy in the child’s hand, or guide his hand to it. Or hang different things near him so that when he moves his hands they touch them.
a baby lying on his back touching wind chimes.
At each stage of the child’s development, attract her attention with a noisy plaything. Have her reach for it and then try to move toward it.
a person speaking while shaking a rattle near a baby.
Find your rattle!
Good girl!
Praise her
when she does well or tries.

In addition to special activities, be sure the child spends most of each day in a situation where she can keep learning about people and things. In everything you do, talk to her, tell her the names of things, and explain what you and she are doing. At first she will not understand, but your voice will let her know you are near. Listening to words and names of things will also prepare her for learning language skills.

Talk to the child as you do housework. Tell her what makes the sound she hears. Sing to the child and encourage him to move to music. Also encourage blind children to make their own music.
a woman speaking to a child while sweeping.
I'm sweeping the floor. Can you hear the broom?
a woman singing to a blind child while 2 older children play music.
Mama's little baby loves
For ideas on homemade musical instruments, see "Rattles and other noise toys".
a woman and child speaking while touching a cow.
This is Moli, the cow.
She says 'Moo.'
Take the child outside often: to the market, the river, the cowshed, the village square. Show and explain different things to him, and tell him what makes different sounds.

For a blind child, it is important that special help and stimulation start early—in the first months of life. Without this the child will fall far behind in her development. She may become quiet, not do much, and be afraid to move about. So her family does not expect much of her, or provide many learning opportunities. As a result, she falls still farther behind.

However, if a blind child has the stimulation and help she needs from an early age, she will develop many skills as quickly, or nearly as quickly, as a child who sees. So her family expects more of her and includes her more in their activities. As a result, she may develop almost as quickly as other children her age. She can probably enter school when they do.

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019