Supporting Understanding of the Auditory Environment

Children with CVI have difficulty seeing things at distance. They tend to be “close lookers”.  If they do look to distance events, they struggle to understand what they see. Interestingly, when children do begin to look for sounds sources, they tend only search for familiar sounds from visually familiar materials. They don’t seem to even try to look for the sources of unfamiliar sounds from visually unfamiliar materials.
In learning environments at home, in the community and at school, students are surrounded by sounds. Students with typical vision hear a sound, turn to look for the sound source and determine whether there is a threat in their environment. They alert, find the sound source and return to activities, regaining attention to learning.
Because children with CVI lack this ability to checkout the sound, to checkout whether there is a threat or not, we need to carefully support and build that environmental sound understanding. Only then can they return to learning. We want to connect their visual and auditory understanding of their distance environment through planned exploration at near.
This is a statement I include in all my IEPs under methodologies:

“Support Susan’s understanding of environmental sounds by bringing sound sources to her, by traveling to the sounds to explore them and by interacting directly at near with the items that are making sounds. Allow Susan to make the sound if possible to connect the visual information to the auditory event”.
Example: If the door slamming made the noise, have the child slam the door themselves. Verbally label the object, the door, and the action, slamming. Later when slamming door happens, it can be identified and labeled.

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