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Orientation ' Mobility Instruction - Level 2 - Instruction
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O&M Level 2 - Instruction

Purposeful Movement

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 in joints that are engaged by weight bearing and shifting of weight. Proprioception provides learners with information about the position of limbs in space, helping the child to know and understand how fast and how far to move in order to reach something.

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. When impairments in both vision and hearing occur, the young child 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 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. The development of orientation skills prepares an individual to move safely and independently in his or her 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. Mobility skills are used to actually move within and interact with the environment

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, teaching him or her 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.

Who Provides O&M Instruction?

An Orientation and Mobility instructor holds university certification in Orientation and Mobility. Many instructors have combined certification as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist and a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.

In some instances, an O&M instructor may work directly with a child, and in other situations, the O&M instructor may teach the skills to the family and/or others (such as the teacher of visually impaired, physical therapist, occupational therapist, day care provider, etc.).

Levels of independence will vary with each child. Orientation and mobility instruction may help one child learn to reach out, to move in his crib or confined space, or to move within his/her school without assistance. A more advanced traveller may learn to use a city bus to go to a mall, or to walk alone along a rural road to visit a friend.

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Western Oregon University | The Research Institute | The Oregon Deafblind Project

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The Oregon Deafblind Project is funded through grant award # H326T130008, OSEP CFDA 84.326T, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), OSEP Project Officer: Susan Weigert.

However, the contents of this site does not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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