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Burlingham, D. (1968). Occupations and Toys for Blind Children. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:477-480.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:477-480

Occupations and Toys for Blind Children

Dorothy Burlingham

One of the problems that occurs in the care of young blind children is how to find suitable occupations or appropriate toys for them. Both mothers and nursery school teachers of such children are continually at a loss as to how to interest them. The children seem to lack any desire for the objects surrounding them and, consequently, show no sign of a wish to play. This differs significantly from our experience with sighted children and their inevitable curiosity. Much has been written about the toys and occupations of sighted infants and a sequence has been established of the interrelation between the various stages of sensory and instinctual development and its expression in play.

In studying these occupations and the toys and tools which serve them, we (with the exception of Maria Montessori) do not ask ourselves sufficiently through which sensory channel they make their appeal to the child, i.e. whether they are primarily seen, heard, or felt. It is this latter problem against which we are brought in full force when dealing with the blind.

When turning from the seeing children to the blind we find ourselves suddenly left without the yardsticks normally used to measure development. As shown in earlier publications by members of our working group, progressive development of the blind proceeds on lines quite different from the seeing. This is so, not only with the sensory processes which are disrupted and distorted by the absence of vision and where, at certain stages, either touch, smell, or hearing can take precedence over the other senses.

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