Educational Programming for CVI simply must be embedded into all activities of the child’s day. There is no such thing as “Vision Time”. I do see students for direct service but that is to know and understand them, to make a relationship with them and to continuously assess their vision skills. If I do not consult with the team and parents and infuse the needed educational programming throughout the day, there will be no progress.
When I am talking to teams and parents of children with CVI and discussing embedding educational programming for CVI into the entire day, I use the analogy of learning to play soccer. If, when trying to learn to play soccer, a child only had one hour per week with me kicking a ball back and forth on an empty soccer field and kicking a ball into an empty soccer goal, the child would certainly learn some elements of the game of soccer. The progress for learning these elements would be slower and muscle memory for actions would be weaker. That learning would not translate well to a real soccer game with multiple players, complex array of movement and sound, and multiple distractions.
If I practiced these skills everyday in a soccer routine-based routine, the skills would be stronger, more functional for a soccer game and skills learned quicker. The same is true for building visual skills. Practiced everyday, all day, in predictable routines, vision skills will be stronger and grow quicker.
Using educational programming matched for a child’s distinct visual needs then embedding them into daily routines is the only way to provide access to the learning, to practice the access with familiar materials and events, to build function and to connect that function with generalized skills. Visual pathways are strengthened with use. Strengthened pathways connect with other pathways to ensure generalization of skills across environments.
Building Visual Attention: Placing materials with the bright colors at near within the child’s visual field at all times through the day on materials that appear again and again in routines, will build an understanding of the material’s function. “I see that red spoon coming, I smell food. This red thing is a spoon”.
Strengthening Visual Attention and Building Visual Recognition: Placing materials of bright colors at near and moderate distance within the child’s weaker and stronger visual fields at all times through the day on materials in routines, builds faster visual connections between events, materials, environments and people accessed daily. “I see Ellen in the yellow shirt at 4 feet, I hear the drawer opening, I hear the microwave, I smell my oatmeal, I am going to eat”.
Increasing and Solidifying Visual Recognition: Using familiar layouts for materials for my newer learning, allows me to learn the task rather to need to learn the new layout materials and the new task. (think about a math lesson introducing subtraction. Best to use the Unifex cubes (familiar materials) that we used for learning addition.