Motor Development

In my article, "Motor Development in the Education of Deaf-Blind Children" (see Communication Development), I introduced the term co-active movement. I used it to indicate that activities should be carried out in close physical contact with a congenitally deafblind child. This enables an educator to sense the child’s intentions, and vice versa.

Many deafblind children often lack initiative. They might engage in stereotypic behaviours, such as light gazing, for prolonged periods of time. For example, notice the child in the foreground of this photo.


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Activities such as climbing, creeping, rolling and swinging offer opportunities to move with a child, to follow him/her when he/she takes an initiative and - when the child takes no action - to encourage him/her to follow you.

Observe this video clip of Cindy and her teacher, Bernadette. At the end of the clip, Cindy makes a small signal to indicate that she wants to continue making somersaults. Bernadette responds to this initiative by offering her hands to make the movement.

- Click on a picture to play video -

As mentioned earlier, direct physical contact helps an educator notice the child’s movement, hesitation or increasing interest. By responding to this (e.g. by imitating the child’s movements), a kind of turn taking may develop.

These co-active movements really caught on. For a long time I was identified with this part of my work. "Jan van Dijk" means co-active movement! You can see on the World Wide Web how this idea has become an integral part of many programs for deafblind children, and of training courses for professionals in the field of deafblindness.

Go to Google, and type "co active movement deaf blind" in the search window. You will find many references.

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