Month: January 2016

Comparative Thought Using Active learning and Salient Feature Language

Revised post:

Children with typical visual skills access materials and people in their environment at near and distance. They build understanding of their world by seeing and then comparing similarities and differences in the environment.  This same experience of comparative thought (Dr. Christine Roman- Lantzy) must be available to our children with CVI.  This comparative thought builds understanding of attributes of materials and keeps the brain stimulated and engaged. This is active learning (Dr. Lilli Nielsen). Children’s brains that compare and are engaged, build neural pathways as they learn but they need access.

If the child with CVI, who has difficulty seeing and understanding objects, is always provided with these comparative materials at near, they have this access.  I always start with materials I know children prefer.  If they prefer certain objects, these are familiar. I place the familiar object against a non-complex background and add another that is similar but slightly different in one way.  If the child is looking at a large red slinky, I might present a smaller blue one.  I am then able to provide salient language (Dr. Christine Roman- Lantzy): “Here is your favorite red slinky.  Now you will see a smaller blue slinky.  It moves in the same way”. I like to think of this expanded visual access as lateral learning.  Lateral learning is assessing what a child can look at and carefully presenting materials that are slightly different in color, size and then shape. (Note: the stuffed toy has slinky arms and legs.)

 

Comparative Thought Using Active learning and Visual Attribute Language

Children with typical visual skills access materials and people in their environment at near and distance. They build understanding of their world by seeing and then comparing similarities and differences in the environment.  This same experience of comparative thought must be available to our children with CVI.  This comparative thought builds understanding of attributes of materials and keeps the brain stimulated and engaged. Children’s brains that compare and are engaged, build neural pathways as they learn but they need access.

If the child with CVI, who has difficulty seeing and understanding objects, is always provided with these comparative materials at near, they have this access.  I always start with materials I know children prefer.  If they prefer certain objects, these are familiar. I place the familiar object against a non-complex background and add another that is similar but slightly different in one way.  If the child is looking at a large red slinky, I might present a smaller blue one.  I am then able to provide salient language: “Here is your favorite red slinky.  Now you will see a smaller blue slinky.  It moves in the same way”. I like to think of this expanded visual access as lateral learning.  Lateral learning is assessing what a child can look at and carefully presenting materials that are slightly different in color, size and then shape. (Note: the stuffed toy has slinky arms and legs.)

active learning 033

 

 

Using the Wrong Kinds of Functional Visual Assessment

If the visual professional conducts the wrong kind of functional visual assessment; an ocular assessment for a child affected by CVI, they would be focusing on the eye based visual functioning problems.  The ocular assessment answers such questions as:

  • Does the child’s eyes have an unusual appearance? The child with CVI often has eyes that look typical. They might have exotropia or esotropia caused be eye-teaming difficulties.
  • Are visual fields affected by the eye-based loss? Here in the ocular assessment there is a focus on the permanent loss of vision in  a certain visual field.
  • Do the child’s eyes converge and diverge? This question is rarely relevant to the child with CVI who is not able to visually locate, sustain or understand what is seen.
  • Does your child track objects?  This question is rarely relevant to the child with CVI who is not able to visually locate, sustain or understand what is seen.
  • Does the child shift gaze or scan? These questions do not consider a child’s ability to locate, sustain and understand what is seen.  The number of items can affect the ability to shift gaze from one familiar item to a newer item or from a preferred colored item to a less preferred colored item.  Simply the number of displayed items can overwhelm the child with CVI and affect the ability to shift and scan.
  • Does your child see the range of colors? In ocular terms, this is an inability to see color differences. In CVI the child might have a preference for looking and sustaining on certain bright colors.
  • Does this child have depth perception: This ocular information assesses the child’s ability to understand depth due to limitations in use of both eyes or field loss.  In CVI, we are concerned about depth related to visual understanding distance, in certain visual fields and what is the impact on skills in complexity.
  • Does the child need increased contrast? This question asks whether the supports of increased contrast will help a child with an ocular impairment to see objects better.  For the child with CVI, we are concerned with the reduced complexity of the background but contrast sensitivity does seem to co-exist with CVI and show be medically assessed.
  • What is the child’s best viewing distance? For the child with an ocular impairment, this information tells us the best distance to place materials due to the visual acuity of the eyes.  For children with CVI, we think about distance as a function of complexity.  The further away an item appears, the greater complexity interferes with visual functioning.

Given the erroneous focus of the assessment topics, the functional visual information is of no use for the brain based visual impairment, CVI. The focus of the assessment areas would have no relationship to the functional areas that are the hallmarks of CVI which look at visual attention and visual recognition.

With this poor assessment, visual behaviors of the child’s functional vision would remain unidentified.  If assessment areas are unidentified, they cannot appear in the child’s statement of functional visual skills or in goals and objectives. Environmental considerations would not appear in the child’s accommodations and modifications. Cognitive skills might be masked by the inability to understand what is seen.  Communication systems might be inaccessible for children. Social skills would not be addressed appropriately.  (The face is inaccessible for a child with CVI due to visual skills not social engagement). Since all learning involves visual skills, poor assessment would make other skills and goals areas inaccessible.

Graduate Online Class: University of Massachusetts Boston

Find this class about CVI at https://www.umb.edu/academics/course_catalog/course_info/grd_VISN_all_648

GRAD > VISN > 648

Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment

Description: 
This course provides an in-depth study of CVI and resources available for assessment and instructional strategies. participants will further examine and explore the unique educational needs of children with CVI and the skills related to teaching these children in a full array of educational settings; Pre-K through grade 12. Topics include teaching strategies in the core and expanded core curriculums, such as: literacy, career-vocational skills, visual efficiency and compensatory auditory strategies. Instruction will also address material modifications and accommodations.