O&M Level 1 - Instruction
From early development, learners begin to move to and from people, and objects. Children typically are motivated to move through space on their own and develop the physical skills to support such movement.
Three major sensory systems work together to help learners understand spatial relations and to develop body awareness and balance: proprioception, vision, and vestibular function (Pogrund & Fazzi, 2002).
Proprioception refers to the awareness of body position in space. It is derived from sensory receptors in joints, muscles, and tendons that are engaged by weight bearing and shifting weight through the joints. Proprioception provides learners with information about the position of limbs in space, helping them to know and understand how fast and how far to move in order to reach a target.
Vision is the ability to receive and interpret information through the eyes.
Vestibular function is the ability to detect and interpret acceleration and deceleration of the body (especially movement of the head) and the pull of gravity. Spatial orientation, balance, and equilibrium depend on proper vestibular function.
Implications for Children Who Are Deafblind
Children who are deafblind may be less motivated to move in the environment. The limited visual and auditory information directly impacts the motivations for movement that occurs naturally for most children. In addition, the young child who is deafblind may experience delays in motor, cognitive, and communication development due to the decrease in vital sensory input needed to stimulate purposeful movement within the environment.
Students who do not develop purposeful movement skills will have difficulty accessing the environment without assistance in all stages of development. It is the responsibility of each team member working with the child to structure activities that encourage purposeful movement and create a level of interdependence that matches the needs of the learner. Taking students from place to place without giving them an opportunity to be involved in the movement will lead them to be passive participants in their world. Movement and motor activities are primary and essential for gathering information about environmental objects and events.
Orientation and Mobility Instruction
Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is a lifelong process that begins as early as the first few months of life. Orientation is the process of becoming familiar with the surroundings, learning to know and understand one's environment, and prepares an individual to move safely and independently in his or her environment. Mobility skills are used to actually move within and interact with the environment. Mobility is the ability to move from a present position to a desired location or position in another part of the environment in a safe and efficient manner.
For very young learners, O&M skills include alerting, reaching, turning, and moving throughout the environment. O&M instruction can help a child to become more independent, learning to better understand the -world- by moving and exploring, by learning to use sensory information, and by putting all this information together to gain practical knowledge about their environment.