Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Social isolation for the visually impaired

My VI student O has been very ill. She has missed five days of school, straddling a weekend, and so many important lessons have gone by that my colleague, who supports O in the hefty subjects of geography and maths is very concerned about helping her to catch up once she is back up to speed. O came back to work last Tuesday but as she was doing some catch-up work on maths, she fell asleep, so intoxicating are the drugs which keep her condition under control. O's mum came to pick her up and we didn't see her again till Friday.

Her lack of volume continues to be a major problem. Since O never speaks above a whisper it's difficult to try to converse with her. She doesn't often volunteer information, and in the time I have worked with her she has not once asked me anything about myself. O's peers, who began the year showing interest in her, have tailed off and she has become very isolated socially.

The support staff have talked over some interventions. The Senco asked whether, in fact, this school is the best place for O. Is there a specialist school which would cater better for the needs of a bright visually impaired student? Yes, replied the VI specialist teacher (who comes in three times a week), there is one such school. But it's in Warrington, a long way from here. Ah.

We have a number of interventions available to us, and we will work through these with O in the hopes of reaching some solution. It may be that one very simple action has results, but it's more likely to be a combination of various ideas, and may take some time. Ideas, anyone?


  1. Hi
    Just a thought, have you thought of introducing her to PAT dogs and cats which may help bring her out of herself? One of my Pugs is a Pets as Therapy dog and we go to an old peoples home, even the patients with dementia or those that have had strokes have a strong reaction to him. Being able to stroke a dog or cat may just trigger something in her. Pets as Therapy have volunteers all over the country and go into hospitals, hospices, schools, anywhere that they think people would benefit from a visiting dog or cat. Hope this helps.
    Jo xx

  2. That is a really great idea, I hadn't thought of it, but now you suggest it, it makes good sense. I saw a programme once all about how the elderly respond very well to having an animal to pet, and I can see how theraputic that would be. My own pet is an angry bengal cat who likes to bite if we don't feed him quickly enough…so it wasn't something that sprang to mind. But you've really hit on something. What good work it is you do, to spread a little pug-joy! Thanks very much for that idea, I'll suggest it.
    Ruth x