Pop-Up IEP

5. "We don’t normally recommend a cane for children this young."

Why is this statement problematic?

More and more, children who are blind or visually impaired are given a cane as soon as they can walk. In younger children, the cane fosters independent exploration which piques curiosity and in turn, encourages more exploration. The cane enables children to walk without fear or hesitation, and with no more collisions than others their age. It fosters age-appropriate confidence and independence and increases safety. The introduction of the cane should not be determined by age, but by a formal orientation and mobility evaluation. By kindergarten, average cane users are able to walk with confidence and understand and carry out proper cane etiquette in the presence of others and in close quarters. The longer children go without the use of a cane, the more likely they will develop inefficient adaptive strategies (such as foot shuffling) and will view the cane as more stigmatizing than helpful.

Possible Responses for Parents/Advocates

  1. “We notice Anya walks with hesitancy and fear. She has also had a few nasty bumps and falls. We think a cane would be a great help to her. We would like to work together with you on helping Anya learn proper cane use and become a more safe and confident traveler.”
  2. “We have read articles that talk about how much young children learn when they can move independently and explore. The articles also suggest that early cane use reduces fear and promotes motor development. We realize this approach may be different from the way you were trained and represents another point of view. However, we hope you are willing to consider this information and to conduct an assessment before we make a definite decision.”
  3. “We are not only concerned that Gabriel move safely but we are also concerned that she can get around like the other kids her age. How will the other kids view her as an equal if they have to lead her everywhere?”
  4. “We understand that you were trained not to give a child Paulina’s age a cane. However, we need to discuss what is right for Paulina. We think she is ready for a cane and definitely needs one to move about safely on her own. Instead of using pre-cane devices (such as push toys), we feel it is more appropriate for Paulina to learn how to use a cane in different situations. Of course, she will be expected to use it in a safe and appropriate manner. We think it is important to work with an orientation and mobility specialist to complete an appropriate assessment and determine how best to begin working on her cane skills.”

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