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Blindisms are stereotyped behaviors sometimes found in visually impaired toddlers or children. Blindism behaviors range from body rocking, head swaying, eye rubbing, head banging, spinning to finger flicking. These behaviors are repetitive and serve no specific goals, but can calm or soothe children if they are distressed.
As some of these common blindness symptoms overlap with autistic symptoms, and partly because some of its diagnostic criteria depend on vision, it is particularly difficult to diagnose autism among the visually impaired.
Causes of blindisms include:
- The inadequacy of sensory stimulation causes the child to seek stimulation using his own body
- Social deprivation due to limited interaction with other people
- Limited physical and motor activity, as the child cannot easily move to another place and change his environment to satisfy the basic need for movement and physical activity
- Lack of ability to imitate and learn socially acceptable behaviors
Blindisms can lead to serious consequences if not corrected. Children displaying blindism behaviors may experience teasing or social isolation by other children. Additionally, the skin around the eye may discolor and become callus-like due to constant poking and rubbing.
Early intervention is often helpful in preventing children from displaying blindism behaviors. In most cases, a qualified teacher arranges an early education program to help develop accurate and effective use of the child's senses. The parents are usually included in such programs together with their visually impaired children, as most parents are unaware of techniques used to teach visually impaired children.
- "Blindisms–What are they? What can be Done to Correct Them?" (PDF). Parent to Parent. Kentucky School for the Blind. Summer 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 17, 2011.
- "Beating Blindisms". SEE/HEAR News. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Spring 2002. Archived from the original on June 22, 2002.
- Cass H (1998). "Visual impairment and autism: current questions and future research". Autism. 2 (2): 117–38. doi:10.1177/1362361398022002.
- Geraldine T. Scholl, 1986, Foundations of Education for Blind and Visually Handicapped Children and Youth: Theory and Practice.