Considerations for Therapy

When a blind/visually impaired (B/VI) child is referred for counseling, the counselor needs to understand some of the potential dynamics that may interfere with the counseling process.

First, many families of B/VI children have had negative experiences with professionals. Past experiences can make it difficult and sometimes frustrating for them to find a professional who is willing to spend the amount of time necessary to deal with problems that could require long-term treatment.

Second, the professional may feel "confused and disoriented when faced with behavior that leads [him or her] to feel anxiety and anguish regarding behaviors which are not understood.”

Adequate preparation and knowledge of special behaviors and needs is essential to the counseling process. Information gained may lessen the possibility of counselors making erroneous assumptions about the nature of the child's speech, posture, body language, methods of play, and descriptions of activities and interests. Without this knowledge, B/VI children can be misdiagnosed as emotionally disturbed, mentally retarded, or mistakenly identified as pathological.

Stereotypical mannerisms:

It is not unusual for B/VI children to display repetitive motor acts, transitory and unusual postures, or self-manipulations. These behavior patterns are socially inappropriate, if not qualitatively, than by virtue of their frequency or intensity or both. Additional inappropriate behaviors might include: rocking, spinning, head wagging or weaving, hand-clapping, mouthing of hand or objects, rolling the eyes back or light gazing. Stereotypic behaviors were manifested in four primary situations: boredom, arousal, demand, and eating.

Relationship development:

It is important to remember that many B/VI children who exhibit “blindisms” are not aware that this is an atypical behavior as they are unable to view appropriate behaviors being modeled.

Brame C, Martin D, & Martin P.(1998). Counseling the blind or visually impaired child: An examination. Professional School Counseling, 1(5):60.