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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 6, Lesson 3

Vision and Hearing Overview

baby girl with balloonEffective vision and hearing are very important to learning. Most of what typically developing children learn is through these two senses. A loss of functioning in a sensory organ affects the acquisition of developmental skills because the child lacks access to information in his/her environment. If the child is unable to access his/her environment, then active learning is not able to occur at a developmentally appropriate rate. Particularly important are the windows of opportunity for cognitive growth in the first few months to the first few years of life.

It is important to distinguish the sensory impairment from a disability. A disability is the inability to effectively gather information for learning. If interventions can be initiated to assist the infant to gather information for learning, then the sensory impairment can be compensated for and developmental progress occurs. Therefore, early diagnosis and intervention are especially important for infants and toddlers who have visual or hearing impairments. Sensory impairments can affect incidental learning processes, the bonding experience, the self and body image, motivation, and safety. Learned helplessness and isolation can occur as a result of the impairment.


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