As part of my assessment of children in Phase III for the CVI Range (Roman-Lantzy 2007), 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. Just focusing on the characteristic of “Distance” from the CVI Range, I look at:
- 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 in Phase III 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 in Phase III 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.