One of my students, a little boy, had optic nerve hypoplasia and a wicked cute smile. This very little two-year-old went from sitting straight to standing; this is not uncommon when crawling is a head dangerous activity for someone who can’t see. He started furniture walking and was quickly ready for more. I suggested to mom a bubble lawn mower as I contemplated a cane for this little one. The toy gave him stability but it really wasn’t practical in all locations. Can you imagine him walking in the mall with this toy?
I brought him a little 30 inch cane and got to work. First we had to convince him it would talk to him – be an extension of his hands for information. Many times during the first year the cane became a tail; he would get busy walking and the cane would turn and drag behind him. He soon learned the cane made a great noise when it tapped. He was so intrigued by the noise he had to touch what the cane was touching. So as we walked down the sidewalk he would frequently stop and follow his cane down to the tip to see what made the noise. Sometimes it was the concrete, but others were trashcans, bicycles, fire hydrants, grass, cars, and mailboxes. It was wonderful to watch this little one explore.
Cane use with someone so young is much like giving a toddler a fork. A toddler does not use the fork the correct way much of the time but with practice every day its purpose is discovered. The cane will be a tail, a pretend pony, and a pogo stick many times to a toddler. In the end, with practice and use daily, the cane is used correctly and is a part of life.