If a child is not reaching: we want to support reaching by:
- Always having something within arm’s to touch and look at that are shiny, of their favorite color and slightly moving.
- Use long things that can be attached up in the best visual field and attached to the wrist. Movements will make visual events. Bells or other sounds attached to the other end will make it even more interesting!
- Help the child understand that their movements can make changes: balloon tied to the wrist at the best visual distance, something tied to the foot at the best visual distance, red socks on feet and red hair elastics on wrists so their own movements create a moving visual event. This also helps children understand hands and feet are part of their bodies.
- Teaching the child to reach by stroking from at his elbow to the hand, reaching together in a hand under hand exploration technique. As they get the idea, give less support.
- Never grab the child’s hand. Use hand under hand to guide them to touch things.
For a further explanation of the hand under hand and the hand over hand techniques see American Foundation for the Blind:
Children deserve to know who is in their environment, who is being addressed, how a person will be interacting with them and what to expect.
Here are some ideas for respectful interactions with children with CVI given that they often lack facial regard and facial recognition. With consistent use of these methodologies, trust will build and learning will be enhanced.
- Alert John to incoming message by stating his name before asking a question or making a statement.
- Introduce yourself by name and salient feature when approaching.
- Tell John what you will be doing together and what material he might see.
- Tell John what part of his body will be touched and give a touch cue before moving that body part. To learn more about touch cues see Project SALUTE: http://projectsalute.net/Learned/Learnedhtml/TouchCue.html
As part of my CVI assessment of children, I always observe the child in their classroom with peers. This environment is always more complex than the home environment with increased visual complexity (more materials, more moving children and staff), increased auditory complexity (increased voices and sounds of moving children/equipment) and more novelty (classrooms change more than the home changes). The classroom is where the child is expected to learn so assessing skills there is important.
- How does this child’s distance curiosity compare to their peers?
- Does the child look up to see the source of familiar sounds?
- Does the child look up to see the source of novel sounds?
- What movements, at what distances draw visual attention?
- What materials draw distance visual attention?
Most often I find children to be “close lookers”. They spend a great deal of time, especially in this more complex environment, looking at things close at hand. They rarely glance or sustain attention for any long periods to distance events. This, of course, impacts their access to incidental learning. How much is the child with CVI missing because they can’t access distance information? It can be a great deal. Assessing and knowing the child has reduced visual attention at distance reminds us to support and provide access for those important concepts being missed.