Children with a visual impairment must learn to rely on audio cues to interpret and process information from their environment. Contrary to popular belief, listening skills do not automatically improve in children with limited or no eyesight. Rather, listening skills must be continually developed and practiced in order for visually impaired children to efficiently supplement or compensate for limited or no vision with sharpened auditory abilities. Engage your teen in enjoyable activities that promote listening skills to help her explore her environment through her sense of hearing.
Sound Scavenger Hunts
Sound scavenger hunts are like traditional scavenger hunts in that they challenge players to use clues to hunt for and find objects. In a sound scavenger hunt, however, players must use their ears instead of their eyes for guidance. The next time you reward your teen with a new item or allowance, make a developmental game out of it and hide it somewhere in the back yard or in a spacious room in your home. Place two or three sound-making props along the path, leading to the hidden item, such as a radio, an alarm clock or fan. Challenge your teen to find the prize by navigating the different sounds. Instruct her to walk toward the fan, for example, and then tell her to turn right and continue onward toward the radio. From there, direct her to take five paces forward and then turn left, walking toward the alarm clock. This activity will help her to isolate and distinguish sounds and navigate direction based on audio cues.
Bring your teen out to a park on a comfortable, clear day and play a game of sound bingo. Create bingo cards for each player -- siblings or other non-disabled kids can play this game, too -- by making a grid containing 25 individual boxes. Use bold colors and large boxes to help your teen see the card -- children with no eyesight may need assistance reading and marking the card. Fill the boxes in with different sounds you might hear in a park, such as chirping birds, a jogger passing by, a child laughing or a bicycle bell. Arrange each card differently so no two look exactly alike. Each time a sound is heard, it is checked off on the card. The first player to check off all of the boxes in a row wins.
Promote your teen’s ability to scrutinize and recall sound with a music trivia game. Gather a few players around a table and sit nearby with a radio, computer or MP3 docking station. Choose songs with which the players are familiar. Begin the first song with the volume turned down. Turn the volume up for one or two seconds and then back down again, challenging players to identify the song. If no one guesses right, play it again for a few extra seconds, repeating until someone guesses correctly. The first person to identify three songs wins.
Encourage listening, interpretive and creative thinking skills simultaneously with sound art activities. Play a track of off a CD that features nature sounds, such as a thunderstorm or ocean. Encourage your teen to use her hands to mold clay or finger paint a work of art that captures and expresses elements of what she hears -- an abstract work of white, gray and black swirls inspired by thunder sounds, for example, or a shell, fish or mermaid sculpture inspired by the sounds of the ocean.