Hesperian Health Guides

Learning to Use a Stick

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 30: Blindness and Difficulty Seeing > Learning to Use a Stick

Using a long stick can help a child find his way and give him more confidence, especially for walking in places he is not familiar with. With practice, it can also help him to walk in a faster, more normal way, with long, sure steps. This is because he can feel farther ahead of him with his stick than with his feet. The best age to start teaching a child to use a stick is probably about 6 or 7.

The stick should be thin and light, and tall enough so that it reaches half way between the child’s waist and shoulders. The top of the cane can be curved or straight.
DVC Ch30 Page 251-1.png
a woman speaking as she walks with a child using a stick.
Try to take bigger, swinging steps like I'm doing.
We'll sing a song and both step to the rhythm.
At first just give the child the stick and have him lightly touch the ground in front of him as he walks. His arm should be straight.
Play games letting him feel his way. But do not hurry him.
Stop before he gets tired of it. At first, 5 or 10 minutes is enough.
After he gets used to the stick, walk beside him and encourage him to take smooth, even steps.
Have him swing the stick from side to side, and see if he can find things in his path.

After a time he can learn to use the stick better:

Move the stick from side to side, lightly touching the ground. DVC Ch30 Page 251-3.png
The width of the swing should be a little more than the width of his shoulders.
As the stick touches to one side, move the foot on the other side forward.
On a narrow path or rough ground, someone can lead the child by the stick.
a girl speaking as she leads a child by his stick.
Watch it! There's a big rock here.
Or the child can hold the person’s elbow or wrist.

The child can learn to feel the height of steps and curbs, and then to climb them.
a child holding a stick correctly, upright on a step.
a child holding a stick incorrectly, stretched out in front of him.
To go up steps, it is better to hold the stick like this to feel the position of each step. Do not hold it like this. This can cause the cane to stop suddenly and hit the child in the stomach.
a child calling out while riding a horse past a blind child.
Beep beep
Putting posts or other markings where roads or paths cross can help the child find his way or know where to turn.

But whenever possible, teach him to find his way using ‘landmarks’ that are already there.
DVC Ch30 Page 251-8.png
Teach the child to listen carefully before he crosses a path or road where cars or other traffic pass. Sometimes putting a guide rope or rail can help the child find his way.

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019