KAB's services for children and their families
KAB works in partnership with Kent County Council and Medway Council to provide services for children, young people and their families. Each area commissions something slightly different but our aim is always to ensure that a child or young person becomes as independent as he or she is able. We call the services we provide for children and their families Habilitation rather than Rehabilitation. This is because in the majority of cases, children are learning the skills they need to be independent for the first time.
We provide help with mobility and orientation, day-to-day living skills and advice on statutory benefits is also available. KAB has a number of Rehab Workers who are specially trained in working with children and families.
What KAB offers
- Specialist assessment of needs
- Registration as Sight Impaired or Severely Sight impaired
- An explanation of eye conditions and their effects
- Advice on benefits and concessions
- Advice on sensory stimulation
- Functional assessment of vision
- Orientation and mobility (at home, outdoors and in school)
- Cooking and other day-to-day living skills
- How to use helpful equipment
- Information on other services available for families
Supporting Children who have sight impairments
It can be difficult to assess what a child with a sight impairment is able to see, especially as they may not be aware that they are seeing things differently to other people. However, we can get a good idea of what they can and can't see, and therefore what help is needed, simply by watching them closely:
- Do they lean forward or squint to look closely at the TV?
- Do they bring a book or a toy right up to their face to look at it?
- Do they turn or tilt their head to look at something?
- Do they close or cover one of their eyes when they want to look at something?
Depending on the nature of their sight impairment:
- Things may look blurred or fuzzy
- Only a part of an object can be seen
- Things can only be seen when they are moving or when they are stationary
- Only objects directly in front of the child can be seen whereas things on the side are invisible
Because every child's needs will be different, so will be the support and help they receive.
Join Parents of VI Kids Facebook Group - for parents and carers of visually impaired kids everywhere.
Early intervention and independence
When a child has a sight impairment, it's important to provide them and their families with support and advice as early as possible. This can be when the child is still a baby. This way, the child stands the best chance of becoming as independent as possible later on in their life. They can also learn to use their vision to best advantage.
The degree of independence depends upon the nature of the sight impairment and whether the child has any other needs that require specialist support, such as a hearing impairment.
Some children will be able to travel independently, and may decide when they have finished school to go on to Further or Higher Education. Others will be able to achieve a degree of independence within a specialist educational environment.
In some areas, KAB provides leisure activities or short breaks for children with sight impairments. These include activities such as theatre trips, bowling, cooking and ice skating. Some activities are for sight impaired young people to enjoy with their peers, while others are for parents and siblings to join too. These activities are aimed at ensuring visually impaired children have fun while building confidence, practising skills and meeting other sight impaired young people.
For more information and advice, or to find out about forthcoming events please contact your local KAB team.
Frequently Asked Questions
What toys and games might be suitable for my child?
If your child has some sight, then choose toys that:
- are bright, bold and big
- make a noise. If your child has no sight, then making a sound of some kind is beneficial
- have a variety of interesting surfaces and textures
Because every child's needs are different, you'll need to experiment to find the toys that are best suited to your child. For example, some children can see better if a toy emphasises a particular colour, whilst others depend on good contrast in printed or graphic materials.
The RNIB Online Shop has a range of toys and games specifically designed for children who have a sight impairment.
It's a good idea to keep games and activities in the same place. For example, always use the same table for play dough or painting. For a small child keep their toys on a play mat so they can easily find them and learn to explore within a safe area.
How can play help my child to learn?
Young children learn a great deal by watching and imitating others. Children who have a sight impairment can learn through a variety of play and games specifically designed to help them learn about their worlds and acquire self-help skills (like eating and dressing):
- Head, shoulders, knees and toes teach the names of body parts
- messing around with over-sized clothes gives your child practice in dressing themselves
- a song like ‘The Hokey Cokey' can help your child understand the concepts of ‘up', ‘down', ‘behind'
- sorting games that use only touch. A collection of objects can be sorted by their different qualities: shape (circles, triangles, squares), rough or smooth, hard or soft, silent or noisy
- finger painting and colouring
Some children who have a sight impairment hate getting their hands dirty. They may find it unpleasant to touch wet or squidgy substances like Play Doh or wet foods.
When should my child start independent travel?
When they are ready. All children develop and grow at their own speed and this includes the need to be independent either in mobility or daily living skills. It is vitally important for your child to receive the training required to help them achieve the independence they need to fulfil their potential in these skills areas.
Will my child be able to go to a mainstream school?
This depends upon whether your child has other needs in addition to their sight impairment.
Many children who have a sight impairment attend a mainstream school. According to their academic interests, many go on to Further or Higher education.
What education support is available for my child?
Specialist teaching services are available to children who live in Kent, Medway and Bromley. These services are available from pre-school through to 19. They are provided by:
- Early Years workers who provide support for families, helping sight impaired babies and young children develop
- Qualified Teachers of children who have sight impairments who provide regular support in school settings