Main content

Alert message

Part 3

When we begin to communicate, none of our communication is intentional.  Others respond to our needs, which help us learn that our behavior can affect the behavior of others.  Whatever behavior gains the greatest response will be the behavior that is repeated.  When our behavior is responded to consistently, patterns begin to form.  The child becomes aware that people are dependable, which increases his emotional security.

DadDaughterCroppedBefore we ever begin to expect our children to imitate us or understand our communication, we anticipate their basic needs, such as sustenance, rest, and cleanliness based on their behavior.  We also spend a great deal of time teaching them how we learn about others by imitating them.  We imitate subtle facial expressions and label them long before the child can understand language.  A lower lip out may be responded to by an adult doing the same thing while asking, "What is wrong?"

While some children with visual impairment may use facial expressions to communicate, others use mostly their hands and bodies.  We must learn to respond to, imitate, and label that which they express in another way.  When a child begins to breath more quickly, but can't see someone else, we may respond by breathing more quickly while in physical contact.  We may know that means the child is excited, or anxious, and may label the emotion that way.  This way the child knows that you are talking about the same thing and begins to know labels for his own emotions.  More subtle hand and body movements may not have a specific label, but they can still be explored through imitation.  The child must be imitated a great deal before he will become interested in imitating another's behavior. 


References: Remarkable Conversations (Miles), Entering the Social World (McFarland), etc.

Activity 4:

Play a tactile interaction game with your child or student using fingers, hands, feet or legs.  Begin by imitating something he or she does.  After a time slightly change your movement and see what happens.  Did your child enjoy the change or imitate you?  If not, did he or she let you return to playing in the previous way?

Continue to Part 4: Articles and Resources on Touch 

Return to Introduction: Touch and the Development of the Tactile Sense

Return to Part 1: Importance of Touch and Tactile Skills

Return to Part 2: Awareness of Existing Tactile Skills