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Updated Mar 20, 2023
Goal: To raise awareness of special needs in order to increase understanding, sensitivity and acceptance of those with disabilities.
Enjoy your unit’s usual opening. Discuss how some people have permanent health-related conditions that cause limitations or obstacles in their everyday life. Some disabilities are visible to others, while others can be invisible from the outside.
Children with disabilities want to be included and to have friends, just like everyone else. A disability or illness is only one aspect of a person and once you get to know someone with special needs you will find that there is a lot you can have in common. Discuss how no one likes to feel different, and that the more we can learn about what it’s like to live with a disability the more sensitive, helpful and considerate we can be.
Vision impairments include things that are correctable with glasses, such as being short-sighted or far-sighted, as well as more serious problems that cannot be improved even with surgery such as partial or complete blindness. In this activity the children will get to experience what it is like to try to function without clear vision.
Place a pair of prepared glasses or goggles on each participant. Depending on how many glasses/ goggles you have, the children may have to take turns playing. Those observing can also act as helpers/ guides. While wearing the glasses have the vision impaired person either try to put together a puzzle or complete one of the attached connect the dot activity sheets. After everyone in the group has had a chance to partake discuss how the activity felt. Note: wearing the glasses for quite a prolonged period of time may cause a headache.
This game simulates an even more difficult vision impairment: blindness.
One player is chosen as “It.” “It” is blindfolded and tries to find and tag the other players without the use of vision. Instead, “It” must locate players with the use of sound. The player who is "It" shouts out "Marco" and the other players must respond by shouting "Polo,” helping “It” to tell where they are. The other players should try to get as close as possible to “It” without being caught. If a player is tagged then that player becomes "It.”
Visit your local library to find a book such as My Friend Is Blind, My Friend Is Deaf, or My Friend has Dyslexia by Nicola Edwards, Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers, The Story of Tyler and His Wheelchair by Kamee Riggio Heelan, Arnie and the New Kid by Nancy L. Carlson or Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis.
Congratulate the group on learning about what it is like to have an impairment that doesn’t go away and how to be a friend to those with special needs. Enjoy your regular Closing.