Sunday, September 12, 2021

Finger Tap-Tap, Nail Clip-Clip

Heather Withrow
September 12, 2021

Like the title of my blog mostly on Orion, "A Mom's Musings", fellow parents, friends and educators move me to muse, too! 

A question, or a need, came up this past spring regarding clipping the nails of a DeafBlind child. Funny, my strategy since Orion's birth is to wait until he is deep asleep and clip his nails, especially if he had a bath earlier that night. However, since one of Orion's interveners, Nanette, tried out using a Protactile practice of giving natural, practical tactile information, we've been able to clip his nails while he's awake. Nanette tapped the finger of the nail about to be clipped. What you'll see in the video of Orion and I are edited selections of the introduction of the nail clipper, tapping/clipping and letting Orion know that I was done. 


It's important to note that Orion's willingness to have his nails clipped did not happen overnight. He currently allows 2-3 clips per nail. It used to be 1, then a hard limit of 2. Sometimes we could clip a few fingers and he would end the session. Whatever happened, we kept circling back and trying, even if spread over a a few days. No kidding--- it usually takes me 2 days to cut his hair! 

However it ends, by Orion or by actually finishing all 10 fingernails, we give Orion the nail clippers for him to keep and control. This way he knows he's done, will be left alone (at least for a few hours or a day).  When done for good, I sign "Done" on his chest. This gives Orion closure on this activity and he has control of his body and environment. (Check out this great Texas DeafBlind Project blog summary on Maurice Belote's presentation, "The Impact of Cognitive Closure for Students who are DeafBlind".)

(For your child or student, you know whether or not you can let them handle nail clippers safely.)

Related fun Orion fact

He loves to explore long fingernails! We discovered this during early intervention when he was a baby. One of the providers always had long, painted fingernails and he would take his time tactually explore her fingernails. The cool thing about this is she was the only one and I just knew he recognized her every time.

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