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Handout D: Examples of Early Object Schemes/Object Interaction

Anthony, T.L. (2004). Examples of early object schemes/object permanence for sighted infants. Chapel Hill, NC: Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairments, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-CH.

Object scheme Age achieved Source
Plays with rattle 2.5-4 months HELP (Birth to 3)
Brings ring to mouth 3-4 months BSID 2nd edition
Plays with paper 4.5-7 months HELP (Birth to 3)
Bangs (objects) in play 4-6 months BSID 2nd edition
Plays with string on toy 5-6 months BSID 2nd edition
Takes stacking ring apart 10-11 months HELP (Birth to 3)
Puts ring on stacking pole 11-12 months HELP (Birth to 3)
Rings bell purposefully 11-12 months BSID 2nd edition
Pushes car 12-13 months BSID 2nd edition


Bayley, N. (1993). The Bayley scales of infant development (2nd ed.). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Test Corporation.

Parks, S., Furono, S., O’Reilly, T., Inatsuka, C.M., Hosaka, C.M., & Zeisloft-Falbey, B.

(1994). Hawaii early learning profile: Birth to three. Palo Alto, CA: VORT Corporation.

Handout C: Sequence of Object Permanence for Sighted Infants

Anthony, T.L. (2004). Sequence of object permanence for sighted infants. Chapel Hill, NC: Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairments, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-CH.

Sequence of Object Permanence Acquisition for Sighted Infants

SkillAge achievedSource
Follows a moving person (in supine) 1-2 months BSID 2nd edition
Follows ring in horizontal, then vertical path 2-3 months BSID 2nd edition
Looks for visible object touching body 3 months CCIT
Reacts to the disappearance of a face 3-4 months BSID 2nd edition
Looks for object that is not visible touching body 3-6 months CCIT
Fixates on for 2 seconds on location of ball that disappeared 5-6 months BSID 2nd edition
Anticipates visual path of slowly moving object 5.5-7.5 months HELP (Birth to 3)
Uncovers partially hidden object 6 months CCIT
Looks for sounding object that falls from view 6 months CCIT
Follows trajectory of fast-moving object 6-8 months HELP (Birth to 3)
Looks for quiet object that falls from view 6-9 months CCIT
Looks for fallen spoon 7-8 months BSID 2nd edition
Lifts inverted cup (with object underneath) 8-9 months BSID 2nd edition
Finds object that was hidden under 1 of 3 covers 9 months CCIT
Searches for objects moved out of visual field 12 months CCIT


Bayley, N. (1993). The Bayley scales of infant development (2nd ed.). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Test Corporation.

Johnson-Martin, N.M., Jens, K.G., Attermeier, S.M., & Hacker, B.J. (1991). The Carolina curriculum for infants and toddlers with special needs (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Parks, S., Furono, S., O’Reilly, T., Inatsuka, C.M., Hosaka, C.M., & Zeisloft-Falbey, B. (1994). Hawaii early learning profile: Birth to three. Palo Alto, CA: VORT Corporation.

Handout B: Concepts Learned in the Early Years: Birth to 24 Months

Anthony, T.L. (2002). Concepts learned in the early years: Birth to 24 months. In R.L.

Pogrund & D.L. Fazzi (Eds.), Early focus: Working with young children who are blind or visually impaired and their families (2nd ed., pp. 341-343). New York: AFB Press. Used with permission of AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.

The following list provides a general overview of key items that may be tied to early O&M concept development. It is not intended to be exhaustive of all of the concepts that are learned during the first two years of life.

Items were drawn from the following early childhood assessment tools: Carolina Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers (Johnson-Martin, Jens, Attermeier, & Hacker, 1991) and the Hawaii Early Learning Profile: Birth to Three (HELP; Parks, Furono, O’Reilly, Inatsuka, Hosaka, & Zeisloft-Falbey, 1994). Neither of these tools has normative data for children with visual impairments. Therefore, age ranges have not been noted, and in some cases the items may not be appropriate for a child who is totally blind. 

Object permanence

  • Shows interest in people and toys
  • Reacts to disappearance of objects
  • Finds partially covered objects
  • Seeks out family members and pets when named
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Finds totally hidden objects
  • Unwraps toys
  • Remembers locations of toys that are put down for a few minutes
  • Remembers familiar places where objects are kept
  • Reaches for objects that are out of sight after they no longer make noise
  • Brings objects from another room upon request
  • Reaches in correct direction of objects that have made noise in several places
  • Remembers where objects belong and puts them away upon request

Cause and effect / means-end

  • Watches hands
  • Uses hands and mouth for sensory exploration of objects
  • Shakes rattles or bangs toys placed in hand
  • Slides toys on surfaces
  • Overcomes obstacles to retrieve objects
  • Guides action on manual toys (pushes buttons, pulls levers, etc.)
  • Drops objects systematically
  • Understands that different toys are activated by different actions
  • Retrieves objects using other items
  • Solves simple problems with tools
  • Demonstrates common use of objects


  • Enjoys repeating newly learned activities
  • Imitates new gestures
  • Engages in simple imitative play
  • Imitates adult behavior using props
  • Provides “help” by imitating adults in simple household chores

Body image

  • Moves hands to mouth
  • Watches hands
  • Brings hands together at midline
  • Plays with own hands, feet, fingers, and toes
  • Touches spots on body where a toy or object is touching
  • Brings feet to mouth
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • Identifies self in mirror
  • Names one, then three, then six body parts

Spatial relationships

  • Inspects surroundings
  • Visually searches for sounds
  • Shifts visual attention or body orientation from one object to another
  • Plays with own hands, feet, fingers, and toes
  • Turns in a direction when name is called
  • Brings feet to mouth
  • Glances at one toy, then at the other when a toy is placed in each hand
  • Reaches for nearby objects in view
  • Works for object that are out of reach, but still in sight
  • Drops objects systematically
  • Searches for objects moved out of visual field
  • Removes rings from the stick of a ring-stack toy
  • Stacks rings on pole (may not be in correct order)
  • Nests two or three cans
  • Places pegs in pegboard holes
  • Places round piece, then square piece, and then triangle piece in form board
  • Points to distant outdoor objects
  • Explores cabinets and drawers


  • Enjoys repeating a newly learned game
  • Waits for an adult or sibling to take his or her turn in a turn-taking game
  • Continues a familiar game by initiating movements involved in the game
  • Repeats actions that elicit laughter from others
  • Moves away from caregiver who is in the same room
  • Makes simple choices about books, food, etc.
  • Gets own toys to play with from a familiar place
  • Uses adults to solve problems
  • Approaches peers or adults to initiate play
  • Solves simple problems without adult assistance
  • Explores new environments


Johnson-Martin, N.M., Jens, K.G., Attermeier, S.M., & Hacker, B.J. (1991). The Carolina curriculum for infants and toddlers with special needs (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Parks, S., Furono, S., O’Reilly, T., Inatsuka, C.M., Hosaka, C.M., & Zeisloft-Falbey, B. (1994). Hawaii early learning profile (HELP): Birth to three. Palo Alto, CA: VORT Corporation.

Handout A: Orientation and Mobility Vignettes

Lowry, S.S. (2004). Orientation and mobility vignettes, Session 3. Chapel Hill, NC:  Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairments, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-CH.

Paulie and Mitchell

Paulie and Mitchell are two 14-month-old boys who seem to have similar amounts of functional vision (object perception) and who appear to be acquiring developmental milestones within typical age ranges. Paulie loves to explore and is adventurous, and shows curiosity about most objects and events he encounters. He has helped his mother briefly and playfully to fold clothes, turn on the washing machine, put away groceries (though his version more closely resembles taking out), and turn on the faucet at the kitchen sink. Mitchell, on the other hand, is more cautious and resists new experiences, including reaching into spaces. His mother has tried to encourage him to reach into the microwave as she holds him to get his warm bottle. He continues to resist her gentle suggestion and also is not interested in helping her shut the door or push a button. Mitchell is also shy about participating in other household events. For now, his mother is content to carry him during these tasks, place him close to the event, and describe what she is doing, including sounds, smells, and sights. Mitchell is starting to become more interested in being a part of these activities.


Isaac is a 22-month-old who can see a variety of light sources such as windows, lights, and doorways, but who does not yet respond visually to low-lying objects or toys. He was quite active from early on, but not broadly curious about his environment. Instead of exploring new areas, he preferred to move to favorite areas in the house and engage in a particular routine, such as moving to the wall furnace to bang on it, finding the sofa fringe to kick with his feet, or crawling to the tile in the kitchen to put his ear against it. Recently, Isaac’s grandmother began giving him kitchen items to play with. She soon discovered that he loved to explore bowls, tubs, and baskets by putting them on his head, or standing or sitting in them. The early intervention team suggested expanding these activities by introducing him to interesting spaces in his home. Grandmother began helping Isaac explore under furniture, inside closets, inside a laundry basket, and inside drawers. When possible, she encouraged him to help with object-container activities such as pulling his pajamas out of his lower drawer and dropping his used diaper in the trash. During these activities she emphasized appropriate spatial terms, such as in, out, under, above, behind, beside, in front, open, and close. Isaac appeared to enjoy these explorations right away. His favorite areas became the hall closet and a corner of the living room behind two pieces of furniture where a floor lamp provided a handy visual cue.


Samantha stays at home with her 17-year-old father during the day while her mother works at a nearby restaurant and attends school at the community college. Samantha is an 18-month-old with optic nerve hypoplasia and light perception. Her father takes pride in his role in her development and has implemented several activities designed to teach her about the world around her. Typically, when he is preparing a meal or cleaning the kitchen, he gives Samantha a large steamer pot full of assorted utensils—measuring spoons, a wooden spoon, a spatula, tableware, and a whisk. With the baby gate to the rest of the house closed to keep her close by, Samantha plays happily with her kitchen items. At first she entertained herself by emptying and scattering the tools, but in a couple of weeks, she began to experiment with putting some items back into the pot. With her father’s help, Samantha has begun to find a special cabinet, marked by measuring spoons tied to the knob, and pull pots and pans out onto the floor. Her father has shown her how to replace the items in the cabinet, but so far her preference is to climb into it herself!


Sharilyn is an active and social 16-month-old with moderately impaired vision from CMV (cytomegalovirus) and associated microcephaly. She has amazed and thrilled many of her doctors by surpassing most of their developmental expectations. Her large and loving foster family is very attentive and involved. They are highly motivated to encourage her development. Sharilyn crawls and uses brisk and appropriate postural transitions in all movements. Recently, she began to walk independently. However, her play with toys and small objects seems limited compared to her cognitive and gross motor skills. She prefers to bang electronic musical toys, and typically mouths and tosses smaller objects. Interviews and observations revealed that Sharilyn’s family keeps her toys in predictable and accessible places in the living room and sunroom, but that they are in the habit of bringing toys to her. So far, they have not shown her where they are or encouraged her to seek them out. Often, Sharilyn plays with one object at a time or socializes in the lap of one of her very attentive family members.

As suggested by the early intervention team, Sharilyn’s foster mother is eager to begin taking her to her toy spaces several times a day in order to show her where to find the toys. In addition, she will space the objects in the area to make it easier for Shari to see each individual toy. This should enable her to visually choose the one that she wants. The team has also discussed toys that are best suited to her current play skills and how to encourage higher-level play skills.


Clara is a 12-month-old with no light perception, according to her initial eye report. Clara’s parents have two other older children who have always excelled at school, and it is important to them that she be afforded the same opportunities. Soon after Clara’s diagnosis of visual impairment, her parents understood its implication for her future development and education and wanted to assure that she enjoy the same depth and breadth of experience as children with sight. Her mother and father decided to deliberately introduce Clara to common objects and events in her home. Often, her mother carries Clara on her hip while setting the table, offering her the occasional utensil, dish, or other item to hold and explore. Toward the end of the family meal, Clara is moved to someone’s lap and permitted to explore this individual’s almost-empty plate, utensils, napkin, etc. She is allowed to touch and taste any food she encounters. Clara’s mother routinely seats her safely on the nearby counter while she bakes or cooks, frequently giving her utensils, pans, and bowls to handle and taste. She is given brief, simple word labels for each object she is handling, as well as for associated sounds and smells. At times Clara attends well to these activities and at others she is more interested in being elsewhere. These practices extend to other household events throughout the day, and all family members cooperate with the effort.


Morgan attends an inclusive childcare center for 2- and 3-year-olds. Typically, there are three full-time staff members and one or two support staff in the class of 12 children. Morgan has Leber’s congenital amaurosis with possible light perception. Her intervention team includes her parents, the classroom teacher, a teacher of children with visual impairments, an orientation and mobility specialist, and a speech/language pathologist.

At the age of 26 months, Morgan has not yet begun to use words to label, request, or refuse. She had difficulty transitioning into the program, and this continued for several weeks. Tantrums were frequent, and they often interfered with participation in individual and group activities, not to mention disrupting the class. Although capable of scooting and cruising furniture, she preferred to remain in one place. Most sustained interactions with adults resulted in tantrums. Morgan’s team felt that her distress resulted from a combination of the noise level in the classroom compared to that at home, the number of adults working with her, her probable inability to comprehend and anticipate the classroom routine, and the absence of language to express her needs.

Morgan’s team decided to implement a language program designed to make the routine and environment more predictable and meaningful for her. Simple object symbols were collected and worn in an apron by one staff member, who would work with Morgan each morning. Real objects associated with several activities were used, and the activities chosen were those that were of possible interest to Morgan. Four different activities were presented in the same order each day. The teacher would meet Morgan at the door with a standard greeting and hug, followed by the introduction of the real object (e.g., a hand bell) associated with the first activity (play in the music center). The teacher guided Morgan along a very short, prescribed route to the center, helped her engage with the musical instruments, and then left her to play on her own. In 10 minutes, she returned to introduce the next real object from her apron and help Morgan move to the next activity, again using a simple, prescribed route. With some initial modifications, Morgan soon appeared more calm and cooperative during the mornings at school.

After Morgan appeared more at ease in the childcare center, other staff members began guiding Morgan one at a time through her prescribed routine. She accepted this fairly well. Within the next few months, Morgan’s team hopes that she will be able to begin to refuse, request, or make deliberate choices about daily activities. Approximately a month after beginning this routine, Morgan began taking cruising steps along one of these prescribed routes. The team expects continued improvement in independent cruising and walking as assistance during the routes is gradually faded.


Ángel was born at 27 weeks’ gestation and subsequently developed stage 4 retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). His mother was interested in “defined play spaces” to encourage exploration and movement, as well as to increase his play with objects. When he was 4 months old, she set up a cradle-sized play space for Ángel in a carpeted corner of the living room. She placed a small baby quilt in the corner and stored a collection of small toys and objects around the perimeter of the space, within easy reach of Ángel when he spent time there. These included two interesting fabrics attached to the sides, a couple of soft animal toys, a wooden rattle, a soft latex toy, and a musical kick toy. She kept these positioned in roughly the same locations, at either side of him, at his feet, and suspended above. His mother placed him in his play space several times a day in a variety of positions—tummy, back, and side lying. One at a time, she removed articles that seemed to annoy Ángel or that he appeared to grow bored with and replaced them with new objects.

At 9 months of age, Ángel used a larger play space in the same corner of the living room with a different set of toys to match his advancing cognitive and play skills. His mother continued to include his favorite items in a variety of textures and sounds. Two electronic musical toys were included, and she added hand toys with small, manipulative features and interesting planes and textures. In addition, toys and household items of interest were suspended from the sofa cushions on one side of his play space to encourage play on a vertical surface. He was encouraged to play with these while sitting, although he continued to enjoy play on the floor as well.

At 12 months Ángel’s play space had grown a bit larger to better match his gross motor skills, which included very active rolling, scooting, and crawling. His mother redesigned the play space to leave two sides open to the room to allow easy movement in and out of the area. She stored five or six of Ángel’s favorite toys and objects along the remaining two sides (against the wall and sofa) and added two small plastic baskets that contained two categories of toys—soft/fuzzy and rattles/shakers. She frequently “straightened up” his play space by putting objects back in their predictable positions to enable Ángel to more easily find a certain toy again. Ángel’s mother continued to place him in his play space several times daily, with an open invitation to move out of it whenever he wanted. She put him down 10 to 12 inches away from the toys, made enticing sounds with them to remind him of their locations, and helped him move toward the toy that he wanted. At this point, Ángel’s physical therapist used his play space to work on appropriate movement transitions, especially those leading to creeping and crawling, and his mother followed through with recommended handling methods each day.

At 2 years of age, Ángel has two play spaces that include toy shelves in the living room where the family spends the most time together and additional shelves in his own bedroom. Because he now walks all over the house and shows good goal-directed movement, he was ready for a second play space in his room. For several months, Ángel has been moving intentionally and frequently (without adult or sound assistance) to his play space in the living room. Recently he started walking to his bedroom to get toys. His parents use a contrasting doormat in front of the shelves in the living room to help him find the area quickly and easily. This area has expanded to include a bouncy horse and a sit and spin, in addition to a collection of small manipulatives in a basket, jar lids in a coffee can with lid, one music toy, four books, and a basket of favorite audiotapes each marked with a distinct texture. In the living room and bedroom play spaces, some of the toys and objects are stored on the floor in front of the shelves because Ángel does not yet consistently remember to reach into and search the shelves. His mother helps him practice this skill. At times, he appears to be searching for a specific object in his play space, as opposed to his old habit of playing with whatever item he happened to find.

Study Questions for Recommended Reading A: Anthony, Bleier, Fazzi, Kish, & Pogrund

Anthony, T.L., Bleier, H., Fazzi, D.L., Kish, D., & Pogrund, R.L. (2002). Mobility focus: Developing early skills for orientation and mobility. In R.L. Pogrund & D.L. Fazzi (Eds.), Early focus: Working with young children who are blind or visually impaired and their families (2nd ed., pp. 326-355). New York: AFB Press.

  1. Define orientation and mobility.
  1. Describe orientation for young children with visual impairments. What five concepts are involved in the acquisition of orientation and mobility in very young children?
  1. What does mobility mean? What does mobility mean for very young children?
  1. What approaches are critical to the success of an orientation and mobility program for infants and toddlers?
  1. List three of Fazzi’s seven general suggestions for developing an appropriate O&M program for young children.
  1. What two factors should the team consider when exposing a young child to sensory stimuli? What is the goal of sensory development?
  1. What information can be obtained from a sensory profile?
  1. What role does the sense of hearing play for children with visual impairments?
  1. List four methods for encouraging visual fixation in very young children.
  1. Define tracking and list three ways to encourage tracking.
  1. Define shift of gaze and list three ways to encourage it.
  1. How does the child’s sense of touch relate to movement?
  1. What are the two purposes of movement during the “sensorimotor period” in the first 2 years of life?
  1. What three components of cognitive development influence the acquisition of early travel skills?
  1. Describe three ways to facilitate the development of the concept of object permanence in children with visual impairments.
  1. How does development of means-end behavior relate to O&M skills? How can this concept can be encouraged?
  1. Why is gross motor skill development important for young children with visual impairments?
  1. List five fine motor skills that are important for orientation and mobility.
  1. Why are communication skills important for O&M?
  1. How does development of self-help skills foster O&M skills?
  1. What role does social interaction play in development of independent travel skills?
  1. What is the difference between purposeful movement and self-initiated movement? Why are these important?

Study Questions for Recommended Reading B: Dunnett

Dunnett, J. (1997). Nielsen’s Little Room: Its use with a young blind and physically disabled girl. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 91(2), 145-150.

  1. Describe Anna’s physical impairments.
  1. How did Anna’s behavior differ at home and at school? What might be the cause of her behavioral changes?     
  1. What activities did Anna’s teachers initially use to modify her behavior? Were these activities successful?
  1. Explain the importance of sound cues for children with visual impairments. What is the role of the caregiver, TVI, and OMS in understanding the importance of  sound cues?
  1. Describe a resonance board and the rationale for using it with young children who are blind.
  1. How did Anna respond to the resonance board?
  1. Describe the “Little Room” and how it is used with young children who are blind.
  1. How did Anna react to being placed in the “Little Room”?
  1. Describe Nielsen’s six stages of spatial relations development in children with congenital blindness.
  1. What are some special considerations for the Little Room?

Study Questions and Answers for Recommended Reading C: Rogers & Puchalski

Rogers, S.J., & Puchalski, C.B. (1988). Development of object permanence in visually impaired infants. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 82, 137-142.

  1. Describe the two behaviors that Fraiberg identifies as behaviors that indicate the development of object permanenc
  1. Why are those two indicators of object permanence problematic for infants who are blind?
  1. According to Fraiberg, what is the proposed relationship between object permanence and stranger and separation anxiety?
  1. Discuss some of the challenges that researchers face in working with infants who are blind.
  1. Briefly describe the methodology of the study.
  1. Compare the acquisition of object permanence in infants with visual impairments to that of typically sighted infants.
  1. Briefly describe each of the six tasks used to assess object permanence in this study of infants with visual impairments.
  1. What do we know about object permanence and stranger/separation distress in young children with visual impairments from the study?
  1. What implications does this study have for motor and movement development and developmentally appropriate orientation and mobility of infants and toddlers with visual impairments?

Study Questions for Recommended Reading D: Ross & Tobin

Ross, S., & Tobin, M.J. (1997). Object permanence, reaching, and locomotion in infants who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 91(1), 25-33.

  1. According to the authors, what have observations and Piagetian experiments suggested about motor lags experienced by infants who are blind? How are they related?
  1. Why are researchers concerned about even a few months’ delay in motor development?
  1. What does the ability of infants with blindness to distinguish their mothers’ voices suggest about object permanence?
  1. What do the authors suggest to researchers who work with infants who are born blind?
  1. What do the authors believe is necessary to understand motor delays in infants who are born blind?
  1. What is the relationship between lack of vision and object concepts, according to these authors?
  1. What activities can be used to motivate infants with blindness to interact with the world?
  1. Why is water a good environment for self-initiated movement by infants?

Study Questions for Recommended Reading E: Warren & Hatton

Warren, D.H, & Hatton, D.D. (2003). Cognitive development of children with visual impairments. In I. Rapin & S. Segalowitz (Eds.), Handbook of neuropsychology: Vol. 7, Part II. Child neuropsychology (2nd ed., pp. 439-458). New York: Elsevier.

  1. Describe the social-emotional phenomenon of attachment.
  1. How might visual impairments put attachment at risk?
  1. How might early communication be affected by visual impairment? How can caregivers reduce this effect?
  1. Delays in motor development reduce opportunities for cognitive development. How might motor development be affected by visual impairments?
  1. Gross measures of communication development show that language is often less affected by visual impairments than other areas of development. More in-depth studies, however, show differences in language development in children with visual impairments. What delays and difficulties frequently occur in language development of children with visual impairments? How can parents of children with visual impairments influence language development?
  1. How is the development of children with visual impairments differentially affected by (a) low vision versus blindness and (b) congenital blindness versus adventitious blindness?
  1. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of comparing the development of children with visual impairments to the development of children with typical sight?

Study Questions for Recommended Reading F: Wheeler, Floyd, & Griffen

Wheeler, L.C., Floyd, K., & Griffin, H.C. (1997). Spatial organization in blind children. RE:view, 28(4), 177-181.

  1. What causes limited interaction in children who are blind? What developmental areas are affected by lack of interaction with objects?
  1. How do smiles and touch relate to spatial organization in infants with congenital blindness?
  1. What is the significance of “blind hands” as described by Fraiberg?
  1. Describe some interventions that can improve children’s spatial and tactual development.
  1. What are possible reasons for difficulties with near-space organizational schemata in children who are blind? What sources of information can compensate for these difficulties?
  1. How can children be encouraged to develop near-space organizational concepts?
  1. How do the developmental patterns of children with typical vision differ from those of children who are blind?
  1. How are motor skills and language development important to the development of remote spatial organization in young children who are blind?
  1. Describe three activities that can improve spatial organization in young children who are blind. Provide two examples that are not mentioned in the article.