Seeing better with movement is a characteristic for children with CVI.
Children with CVI will do interesting things to stimulate their brains and to discover the strategies they can use to see better. Head movement or full body movements are often two types of strategies that children come up with on their own.
The puzzle for us is to figure out when they create movement. If we determine when, we can adapt the environment for better visual regard.
- Are they moving their heads when looking at things at near? Near items can be viewed against plainer backgrounds: floor or presentation board, and we see the movement stop or lessen. (Complexity and Distance characteristic)
- Is there movement when trying to see familiar objects? (Novelty characteristic).
- Is there more movement when looking at unfamiliar things? (Novelty characteristic).
- Is there more movement when trying to discriminate pictures or 2D symbols? (Complexity characteristic)
- Is there more movement against more complex backgrounds. (Complexity characteristic) In my CVI assessment using the Christine Roman CVI Range, I present materials against more and more complex background to evaluate visual skills. I often see head movements as the background complexity increases.
- Is there more movement while walking through the environment? (Remember the distant environment is very complex.) I have one child that moves 4-6 feet forward and turns around to the right. I believe she is creating movement to understand the environment. With the help of the movement she created, she can feel safer moving forward further.
- Is there less movement with the benefit of a backlighted surface (iPad, computer or TV). (Lightgazing characteristic)
- Does the child “grow out of” the need for movement? I have many babies with CVI that stop self-created movement when their vision improves. (CVI improves as the child begins to understand their visual world!)
- Do they make things move to see them better? I have several children that bang the table, make the items “jump” then reach to get them. So smart!
We need to see this movement as a strategy and don’t try and stop it.
- I evaluated a child that stood up quickly all through mealtime. He stood quickly while looking at his plate then sat and reached accurately for the food. When the staff tried to stop this “behavior”, he could only find his food tactilely and ate like a blind child using only his sense of touch.