By Charlotte Mellor
Following on from my previous post which looked at a multi-sensory approach to developing the concept of a bird with a child who is blind and who has additional complex learning needs ‘Explaining the concept of a bird to a child that is blind – All things bird’ I finished off the bird experience with Scarlett with an Easter Holiday day out to Vale Royal Falconry to further explore birds.
Prior to going to the centre I made sure I contacted ahead and explained to them what Scarlett’s needs were including her level of vision and her additional needs. I felt this was a good way to ensure that Scarlett was understood prior to her arrival. We did a private visit as Scarlett finds it much easier to concentrate when there isn’t many people around and lots of unknown voices.
As the centre was home to birds of prey it wasn’t possible for her to handle all of the different types of birds but there was a couple of the birds that were very happy to be touched and there was plenty of very loud squawks for her to absorb which she found quite startling but also very interesting.
Birds can be quite difficult to explain to a child who has a visual impairment as they are difficult to see up in the sky and in the trees and there are not very many pet shops which sell birds.
An aviary is another option to visit a bird, but would have only been a good for Scarlett to visit for the auditory stimulation due to the cages. It was important to take her to a place where she could have a variety of different sensory experiences such as:
- touch the birds
- explore beaks and talons
- experience the sensation of a birds wings flapping next to her
- experience the feeling of a bird flying over her
- experience the bird landing and taking off from her arm
- the feeling of the bird taking something out of her hand
- variety of different bird sounds
To Scarlett sensations are very important as the complete lack of sight takes away from any visual experience. The Vale Royal Falconry were very accommodating to Scarlett’s needs and ensured that she was given time to experience the animals, the variety of experience they offered worked perfectly with giving Scarlett a full and well rounded ‘All things bird’ day out.
Scarlett laughed and jumped around when the bird Dennis the cuddly owl flapped his wings and tapped her on the head, she also got tapped on the head by a barn owl which flew over her whilst she was lay in the grass.