The visual sense helps us see and detect objects.  Many trainers have worked with clients who are blind. Modifications can be made to make their fitness session successful such as helping them visualize in their mind the exercise, using physical prompts to secure safety in their routines, and creating an environment that is free of hazards; but the visual sense is more than just that.  Some clients with special needs can see but they have a deficit in their visual scope.


They are the clients who, when they were in school, had difficulty understanding and writing print, poor hand-eye coordination, or lack of ability to copy from the board.  Even with these difficulties, trainers can find success in working with them in finding activities that will strengthen those skills and making them successful in both the gym and life.

Some clients with special needs can see but they have a deficit in their visual scope.

First of all, find what calms the child.  Glow sticks, bubbles, lava lamps, and kaleidoscopes can be used both to teach and calm the child by asking questions about space, what they see, and how to identify the objects. You can find them inexpensively at the Dollar Tree or Five Below stores. A table covered with a tablecloth is a great way to have a safe space with a timer to take a break, allowing you to have the participant calm down without a distraction.


If you have access to a Smartboard, try to have them practice finding items by showing fish videos from YouTube or doing mazes or dot-to-dot activities.   Finger lights can also be used to show them how to do an activity in a fun and exciting way.


Sunglasses are great to use indoors and out.  You can make it less inviting by getting a variety of colors and styles, and making it a game while working with a group.


Games to play include I Spy with items that are of interest of the person, tag with a flashlight and simplified directions, or passing and throwing broken down at a slower pace.  Lighting in the fitness space can be adjusted, and sometimes the best thing is to turn off all or part of the lights.  When showing directions, visually use colors and lighting that is less busy and easy to see.


With just a bit more preparation, there is a success in working with a client who has visual system difficulties, and the reward is someone who is succeeding not only in the classroom or gym but in all areas of life.

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Christina Chapan

Christina Chapan

Christina Lee Steele Chapan is a certified personal trainer with four certifications from ISSA ACE, AFAA and SCW. She specializes with fitness for children and those adults and children with special needs. In addition to attaining her certifications, she is also a certified elementary and special education school teacher with a B.S. in Elementary Education, a minor in Biblical Studies from North Central University, an endorsement in Special Education, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Development from Governors State University. Her passion is for training the future of tomorrow. She is available for training, speaking and writing.
Christina Chapan

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