This research article by Dr. Mike McLinden was published in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research (2011). It focuses on haptic perception, which is defined as “perception related to the sense of touch” and the role of the adult in structuring learning experiences for childrenwith visual impairment and intellectual disabilities. Begining with a look at the development of early haptic exploratory abilities, the article goes on to discuss the implications of visual impairment for early haptic development, and finally the implications for developing intervention approaches. McLinden provides a framework for looking at the role of the adult in structuring learning experiences for children with visual impairment and intellectual disabilities.
This article provides a synthesis of literature pertaining to the development of haptic exploratory strategies in children who have visual impairment and intellectual disabilities. The information received through such strategies assumes particular significance for these children, given the restricted information available through their visual modality, often in combination with additional sensory and/or physical impairments. The literature reviewed from early child development highlights the importance of independent activity in the development of exploratory strategies, as well as the pivotal role of vision in ‘mediating’ information received through the haptic modality. In translating these findings to children who have visual impairment and intellectual disabilities, the role of the child’s learning partner assumes greater significance in ensuring that haptic information is appropriately ‘mediated’ to meet the child’s individual needs. The implications for developing appropriate developmentally paced intervention approaches are considered. A framework is outlined that seeks to account for the role of the child’s adult partner in mediating haptic learning experiences to ensure they are appropriately structured and progressive.