Tuesday, 17 April 2012


My vision-impaired pupil has a birthday today.

She is very 'zipped up'. Her face shows no emotion most of the time, and it's hard to get her to 'let go'. This is partly a result of her impairment, as she hasn't had the visual clues a young child needs to learn how to express herself physically. And partly as a result of a difficult family background. It can make working with her quite challenging (is she engaged, interested, comfortable, 'present'?). The trick is to get her to laugh - tell her a joke, take the mickey out of a school situation, say something she's not expecting to hear. Then she opens up like a flower.

I've made her a lavender bird from an antique damask table napkin. The other side is lovely soft vintage feed-sack quilting. He has a red wing and some hand-embroidery. My student will be able to feel the shape, and to enjoy the scent of lavender. The embroidery will add texture, and it will be interesting to find out whether the feed-sack side feels different to her from the damask side.

In science today a student (year 7) asked a question about sleep. Is the reason we sleep at night because the sun has gone and so we don't get any energy from it to keep us awake. "No,' said the teacher. 'When it's dark it's time for you to rest, and time for the sun to rest too!' What? From a science teacher? He did go on to explain about the solar system … but I'm afraid the damage was done by then. Teachers must be  be so careful what they say!


  1. It's interesting and true, isn't it, that babies and children need mirroring to learn how to interact. I love the idea of your pupil opening up like a flower when you come at her from an unexpected angle. I'll bet she loved the bird you made her. Who wouldn't?

  2. Yes! I was puzzled about the lack of response to emotive issues in lessons (eg English, sad stories etc). But when you think of how much visual interaction there is between parents and babies - all that wide eyed girning parents do to mimic surprise, happiness etc - a visually impaired child will miss out on all these visual clues. The spontaneity of humour is a definite plus here!