Teaching Visually Impaired Children to Introduce Themselves

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The earlier your child learns to introduce himself to others, the better. Introducing oneself to an individual or a group of people opens the door to access to conversations and relationships.

If his visual impairment is noticeable, the general population may not know how to engage your child, even if they are interested in speaking with him. Instead of waiting for individuals to interact with him, he should be taught to engage them.

When your child is introducing himself to other children, he can be taught to say some variation of "Hi," and provide his name. He can ask the others for their names. For more ideas on your child initiating peer-introductions and conversations, read "Promoting Friendship Among Preschoolers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired."

To follow up, he can ask what they are doing or how they are doing. The goal will be to start a conversation and/or begin interacting together through play. This is done by finding similarities or commonalities: either choosing a conversation both parties find interesting (based on the location or toys the child has chosen for play) or participating in an activity that is mutually enjoyable.

When your child is introducing himself to an adult, he can be taught to say "Hi," and ask, "What is your name," while extending his hand for a handshake. To avoid any confusion, he can also say, "I'll shake your hand," or "I'd like to shake your hand," and "Nice to meet you." Getting comfortable shaking hands and speaking with adults will build confidence in social matters and prepare your child for meeting and greeting in job searches and throughout adult life.

Begin teaching your child to introduce himself with familiar individuals while role-playing. As he gains confidence through repetition, give him opportunities to practice introducing himself to unfamiliar individuals within familiar environments. Perhaps he can meet new neighbors or friends at your home or greet guests at religious services. Don't forget to model introducing yourself to as many people as appropriately possible in earshot of your child!

When your child engages with peers and adults, he will be viewed as confident, friendly, and socially competent. Consequently, others will treat him as such. He will be more likely to be included in conversations and activities, and he will typically be treated with admiration.

AFB CareerConnect's "Introducing Oneself" lesson plan, though geared for adolescents and adults, has information and activities you may be able to tailor to your child's maturity level.

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