11.10.2013

CONICET Researchers edited a book on stimulation for visual impaired babies

The idea arose due to the absence of specific material for children aged between 2 months and 3 years. The book combines textures, sounds and smells with inscriptions in Braille and conventional writing.

CONICET Researchers edited a book on stimulation for visual impaired babies

Oiberman, Tesseire, Barres and Bei in the CIIPME [Photo: CONICET]

Seven years ago, when Alicia Oiberman and Elsa Bei, researchers at CONICET, Daniela Teisseire from School No. 33 of the City of Buenos Aires and Jorgelina Barres, psychologist at the same school during 32 years, joined to establish an interdisciplinary group to study cognitive strategies for visual impaired babies, the idea of writing and designing a book was not the goal at first. However, as from this research work, they created material specially designed for babies who can not see.

There are some antecedents that led to this investigation such as the previous work of Alicia Oiberman, psychologist and independent researcher at CONICET in the Interdisciplinary Research Center for in Psychology, Mathematics and Experimental "Dr. Horacio Rimoldi" (CIIPME, CONICET - USAL), who began her research on the infant’s intellectual processes more than ten years ago. As a result, based on the Jean Piaget cognitive theory, Oiberman prepared the Argentine scale of Sensormotor Intelligence for babies between 6-24 months (E.A.I.S.).

"When we started working with visual impairment babies and we observed them at school, our question was: Which are the form - different from sighted children – in which babies acquire the adequate level of cognitive development?" Oiberman commented. The research project between the researchers and the Maternal and Child Gabi net of Number 33 Special Education School "Santa Cecilia" began in 2006.

Our goal was to adapt the EAIS to our population of infants and evaluate the cognitive strategies followed by them" Teisseire, coordinator of the school psycho-pedagogical cabinet, comments. This institution accepts blind children aged between 45 days to 5 years who attend the nursery school and then primary school until the age of 14 or 16.

The team began evaluating visually impaired babies aged between 2 months to 3 years old who were accompanied by their parents at the Gesell Dome of the CIIPME.

“The idea for the book emerged from the parents’ concern about the absence of specific material for babies”. So, we thought about the design of stimulation books that comprises textures, sounds and smells with the inscription in Braille and in conventional writing. Consequently, El onsite y la rana was created. With this material we pose the right to play for visual impaired babies", Oiberman explains .

Barres remarks that the book facilitates the stimulation of the baby’s different senses, including Braille.

 Different ways to reach knowledge

The research project proposes a twin-track approach: on the one hand, sensory motor stimulation from the nursery school and, on the other, the observation of cognitive strategies. Both approaches comprise salutogenic model.

"Why salutogenic? Because our intention is to provide parents with feedback about their babies’ potential abilities die to the fact that in this experimental situation we concentrate on achievements instead of deficiencies", Oiberman explains.

Meanwhile, Bei, who is developing her PhD dissertation in the framework of this investigation, she remarks that parents' role is essential for visual impaired babies’ stimulation. So, at the end of every session at the CIIPME, parents are given a report on the evaluation of the scale which indicates the stage the child completed and also what type of stimulation is necessary.

"For example, there was a girl with palpebral ptosis. In her case, we observed that her mother imitated the daughter’s space to a small carpet due to her own fears. Consequently, this situation provoked a delay in walking for the girl. After that, with our work and assistance, her mother could recognize that her daughter managed to acquire the same cognitive developments as a sighted child. Consequently, she participated in the girl's stimulation. Later the baby developed the expected behavior" Bei comments.

The group remarks that through touch, smell and hearing these children create mental images collecting information from objects. For example, in the case of a table, they look for the edges of the table first because they are benchmarks for recognizing the shape and the edges. "Sighted people go from global to a particular form". Nevertheless, in the case of visual impaired babies, they go from a particular to a global way”, Barres added.

The types of tests they perform are based on five thematic axes: objects exploration, finding objects, orientation and spatial location, space tactile exploration and organizers and intermediaries. The book El osito y la rana allows the child to apply different sensory pathways to knowledge by reorganizing the information from sensory impressions.

"The baby who cannot see spends more time in the oral recognition of an object, because the part that surrounds their mouths is much more sensible than the hand in this early stage. So, they explore the object with their mouths different ways: they do a linear route, they rotate it, and use their hands for recognition", Teisseire says.

Another very important issue is how they get spatially oriented According to Teisseire, part of the early approach is to promote elements for the child to be inserted in that space and get to know it. Since that space does not come from the visual perspective, the child has to search for it and go around it. In a manner similar to the relationship with objects, the space is set through the child’s body and vice versa.

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Oiberman, Tesseire, Barres and Bei in the CIIPME [Photo: CONICET]

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