Friday, September 14, 2007

Visually impaired babies

A baby born with a handicap often breaks a parent's heart.If you want to see heartbreak turned into inspiration, see what happens with babies born blind at Atlanta's Center for Visually Impaired. It is Friday's Wes Side Story.Babies born blind often go thru multiple operations trying to find something that will at least let them see shadows -- because the parents know their development depends on seeing something.

If they see nothing, simple things like walking will take them twice as long to learn."A typical child, a sighted child, they're motivated to move by the toys they see and they want to get closer to them," said mother Martha Hummer.A blind child is motivated by the sound of mom's or dad's voice. Music can be a motivator. Even smells can make them crawl or reach out.Jacqueline Howard at the Center for Visually Impaired uses her music to give blind children the understanding of simple words that they need to know.

"It's hard for the concept of up and down, so we teach them through music," Howard said. "We teach the concepts of stop and go -- lots of different concepts -- through music."The mother of Senia McCowan said her daughter had trouble approaching a curb at a crosswalk."Something as simple as walking off the curb," she said. "Because to her it looks different, so she's learning how to feel for the edge of the curb, just reach to step down."The children learn from touch, smell, sound -- about dangers they might face.

They learn the difference between friendly dog barking sounds and threatening growls. They even learn simple movement thru dancing with their parents.At the end of the class the children will know when to go forward and when to stop, and every mother and dad in the room thinks Jacqueline Howard is a miracle worker for that.


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