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Playground Playing Case Study

This example shows the approach to successfully accessing learning as explained in the short introductory section Access. The term perceivable is used specifically to mean perceivable through one, or more of the five senses of vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell.

If something is not perceivable, particularly through sight and sound, then the person can have no awareness of it, and it isn't there for them.

Simon was five and about to start school full time, but the playground was not level. The school promoted risk based play and the playground had a steep uneven hill. Simon has a lower visual field impairment as part of his cerebral visual impairment, and will trip over obstacles in his lower visual field. For this reason, for his own safety, Simon required a personal adult supervisor in the playground.

Simon's mother felt that always being with an adult would mean Simon did not get the same opportunities to play as other children, and requested the playground be made safe for Simon, so Simon could access playtime on the playground with the other children (playground playing).

1. Why was playground playing challenging for Simon?

  • Was playground playing perceivable for Simon?

Not all of it. The hill was steep and uneven, thus there were multiple trip hazards in Simon's lower visual field where he does not see, so a part of the playground area was not visible. This meant that an adult always had to be with Simon on the playground, to ensure he didn't trip over and hurt himself.

  • Was playground playing meaningful for Simon?

Yes, Simon is an intelligent and social little boy who enjoys playing with other children.

  • Was Simon Motivated?

Simon was a little frustrated because he is just a normal boy who does not want to be treated any differently to any of the other children. Having to always have an adult present made him feel self-conscious.

2. How was playground playing made accessible for Simon?

  • How was playground playing made perceivable for Simon?

Following intervention from his parents, the school acknowledged that the playground was not accessible, and re-constructed the area, making the top of the hill less steep, widening and flattening the access pathways and laying a surface that was even and soft.

  • How was playground playing made meaningful for Simon?

Playground playing was always meaningful, but now Simon knew he could play just like all the other children.

  • Was Simon motivated?

Definitely. Not only could Simon play without needing an adult supervisor, Simon could also run up and down the hill like the other children. Sometimes Simon does need assistance from an adult, but everywhere he can possibly do things for himself, that is what he wants to do.

3. The successful approach

  • Simon has informed knowledgeable parents who are experts on both his needs and his rights. Through understanding his rights they were able to demonstrate that the school needed to make the playground accessible for him.
  • The school offered the supervision of an adult to help Simon access the playground, but Simon's parents felt that the presence of the adult entailed the other children didn't play with Simon in the same way they did with each other.
  • Simon's mother felt that accommodations could be made so that the playground could be made completely accessible for Simon, enhancing both his independence, and opportunities to further develop meaningful friendships with the other children.
  • Simon's school, like many, promotes risk based play (see http://www.playscotland.org), which some feel help build many skills in children including confidence, independence, social relationships and problem solving. Simon also lives in an area where inclusion for children with additional needs is promoted, and it is easy to see how these two positions can be in conflict with each other.
  • Does Simon sometimes fall over? Of course he does, all children do! Before the changes to the playground Simon would have fallen so frequently and onto a hard surface that he would have been hurting himself all the time (hence the need for supervision). With the changes Simon, according to his mother, now "loves running up and down the hill and is able to do so without injuring himself."

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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.