Pete's Cane Tips
A cane is simply an extension of a child's arms — enabling "cool cats" to avoid obstacles, like half-opened doors or book bags tossed on the floor!
Kids should take their canes everywhere — to the grocery store, to the restaurant, to grandma's house, on family vacation, everywhere!
Here are some tips for getting around school, so says Pete:
1. Get a Good O&M Trainer.
Get yourself a good O&M (orientation and mobility) instructor! The first step is to request an evaluation from whoever is handling your IEP (or IFSP for preschoolers). And check out the NFB Early Explorers program — they want to send you a free child-sized white cane!
2. Teach Safety, Not Fear.
Grown-ups say, "Watch out for cars or you will get hit!" But that only makes me afraid to cross the street. Teach kids to be careful — but not afraid — by providing multiple, safe opportunities to practice O&M skills: Stop, Look, Listen, and Wait for a Grown-up to Say, "All clear, go!"
3. Recess Is Fun!
Don't let anyone say you can't play on the playground! Grown-ups like to park kids on a swing, but swings are solitary — take a tip from Pete, he likes playing with all the other cats! Once someone shows you around the playground, you can slide down slides, climb on the monkey bars, and slip through tunnels. And don't forget about beeper ball, hula-hoop, tumbling, and running with a partner — it's fun to get moving!
4. Carry Your Own Tray.
When it's time to eat in the cafeteria, learn to carry your own tray, open food packages, select silverware, and throw everything in the trash when you're finished.
Very young kids park their canes at the cafeteria door, so both hands are free to carry a lunch tray. Here's how: Stretch both arms straight out from the waist, palms up. Then place the tray across the arms and curl your fingers over the edge of the tray. Practice that at home — start by balancing an apple on a tray!
5. Get Your Own Braille Library Shelf!
Ask for your own braille bookshelf at the school library, and learn exactly where it is — it should be easy to reach! Pete prefers Pete the Cat books, but your librarian can help you discover lots of good books. Ask her to join NBP's Children's Braille Book Club. Also check out Seedlings Braille Books for Children, and the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults.
6. Name Each Hallway.
The smartest way to get around school is to associate rooms with hallways and to name them. The Cafeteria Hallway leads to the bathroom and cafeteria; the Gym Hallway leads out to the playground and gym. Help your parents make a tactile map, so you know where everything is. Be one cool cat at school!
7. Own the Classroom!
Know your way around the classroom, just like the other kids. When Pete walks through the door, he knows the teacher's desk and board are on the right wall; the cubbies and bathroom door are on the wall straight ahead; the bulletin board and bookshelf are on the wall opposite the teacher's desk. And circle time? That's easy: it's carpeted! Where are the fish? Over there, bubbling!
8. Get on the Bus.
Pete wants to know, what's the big deal about getting on the bus? The bus parks in the same place every afternoon, so it is easy to find. When Pete says, "Hi, Ms. Amy!" and she always says, "What's up, Pete!" he knows for sure he's on the right bus. Anyone who uses a cane can find the curb and bus steps and hop right in. Pete likes to tell funny jokes on the bus all the way home!