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ECC at Perkins: The importance of sensory efficiency

Sensory efficiency skills help students use their senses to explore the world and achieve their goals.

Ada Chen encourages her student, Casey, to utilize all of her senses during an interactive lesson about winter. Photo Credit: Anna Miller.

Sensory efficiency is one of nine life skills kids with visual impairments and multiple disabilities learn through the Expanded Core Curriculum at Perkins. That means students learn to use all of their senses — touch, smell, taste and any usable vision and hearing — to get information about their surroundings, engage in active learning and achieve their goals.

There are so many ways our teachers and students work together to make the best use of the senses. Here are a few of the ways we engage all of the senses, and why sensory efficiency is such an important life skill.

The importance of sensory efficiency

A common misconception about blindness is that people who are blind live in the dark. In reality, most people who are blind do have usable vision. So it’s important to teach children when they’re young how they can make the most of the vision they have, as well as their other senses. This takes on added importance for children with multiple disabilities, whether they have both vision and hearing loss, or a combination of vision loss and limited physical mobility.

The fact is, every child is different and has different sensory strengths. We do everything we can to make sure every child has the tools to build and harness their strengths so they can access their core academics and lead the fullest lives possible.

How is sensory efficiency taught?

What is the Expanded Core Curriculum?

The Expanded Core Curriculum is built of of nine life skills Perkins students with visual impairments, deafblindness and additional disabilities learn on top of their core academics. It covers everything from using technology to independent living to socializing with peers — knowledge most sighted children acquire by observing everyday life. The Expanded Core Curriculum gives students who are blind, deafblind and have additional disabilities a toolbox of crucial skills they need to succeed at school, in social situations, at home, on the job and everywhere else.

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