You don’t need to be an Orientation and Mobility Specialist to begin helping you child with O&M skills. As a parent/caregiver there are many skills that you can establish and practice with your child on a daily basis. In formal O&M training, the O&M Specialist typically teaches specific skills before placing a cane in a child’s hand. These are called pre-cane skills. These skills are trailing, protective techniques, purposeful movement and the use of a pre-cane. Let’s break these skills down into simpler terms:
Purposeful movement is basically having an end goal to a movement. Moving for a purpose! For example reaching out for a toy, a cup when they are thirsty, or their mother’s voice, all of these actions show purposeful movement. At a young age we are primarily motivated to move by sight. We see the world around us and we want to explore. It is extremely important that you teach your child that there is a world outside of themselves. Start simple! Use musical items as mobiles for infants. Use a favorite toy and place it at arms reach rather than handing the toy to your child, let them reach out to it, caution this may take some patience. Set up a blanket or rug on the floor and put the toy in a corner and have the child scoot or crawl towards the toy. Have a small basket of toys (only with a few items) in the living or family room in the same location. First time basket is set up there let your child explore the area and the items that are located near the basket. It is best to have the basket by some items that can be used as landmarks (something that is unique, permanent, and tells the child where they are) such as the couch or the corner in the room where the fuzzy rug is, for example. Let the child move towards that area freely. These are huge steps towards an independent little traveler.