Month: January 2017

Color Highlighting: Luggage Handle Wraps

For color highlighting, I can’t always use my favorite colored duct tap to help students with CVI to visual locate and understand where to grab/where to hold for best access. I found these removable red luggage handle wraps that quickly and easily can be applied to provide that access. In the pictures here in the community, my student who locates the color red best, is using the red luggage handles on a shopping cart in the store and on the bowling frame during a recreational activity. The extra benefit is that these handles have a unique, “squishy” texture that provides a tactile cue.

img_8578

img_1629

Brain Plasticity

I just attended a meeting where the school psychologist stated “This child’s skills have plateaued”. Such old and erroneous information! Even with the scientific evident to the contrary, some professional continue to propagate this brain science myth. This is a dangerous myth. It sets a mindset that lowers a team’s expectations for a child’s continued learning across all skills.

In schools, there continues to be a misconception that brain plasticity is fixed to ages between 0 and 3 years old. While it seems true that the young brain learns and reassigns best, this does not mean that after age three, we do not have the expectation for improvements for all skills including visual skills. The brain has great plasticity all through life so we must expect improvements or we will most certainly not get them! We must continue to provide each child with the needed supports. Of course, these needs are determined after careful assessment using the correct tools that measures where and how the child is functioning. For a child with CVI, the correct assessment for functional vision is based on the well known visual behaviors of this brain based visual impairment.

Knowing where and how a child is functioning is the only way to provide first: optimal visual access and second: build visual skills. We move from current functioning, determine the next steps and create goals and objective for improvement.

Here are some resources that I shared with that psychologist, parents and the team:

Psychology Today: Brain Plasticity in Older Adults https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/iage/201304/brain-plasticity-in-older-adults

Dr. Lofti Merabet Looking Inside the Adaptive Brain
https://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?Live=16959&bhcp=1

Powerpoint Books: Matching to Assessed Visual Needs

Literacy is so important for every child. I love making Powerpoint books for my students with CVI. You can make these for the class as a whole based on a thematic unit or make individual books tailored to each child’s visual needs and preferences.
Using Powerpoint books allows me to use strategies matched to the child’s assessed visual needs for visual attention and visual recognition
Color: I use the bright, solid colored targets for attention and recognition.
Motion: I can insert slight movement as needed using an inserted film clip. I also like to insert films to build cognitive understanding. If the child will look at a plastic toy fish, I do not want they to believe that “fish” are hard plastic, non-moving things. I want to build understanding of how they move, where they live and to have the child understand that fish come in different colors and shapes. I can insert a film clip of fish in a fish tank. I can talk about how fish are alive, breathe, have different colors, swim in water and how they move. Children with typical vision have this information without direct teaching. I want my students to have the same access.
Processing time: The images on the pages can stay present for as long as a child needs.
Visual Fields: The device using the Powerpoint can be placed in the best visual field. This is often at eye level.
Complexity: Powerpoint books allow me to choose a non-complex target and non-complex backgrounds for each slide page. If I take my own photographs or grab images from Google, I can Edit and erase all complexity before I insert the picture. If I take film, I can make sure that film is non-complex.
Light: Because the Powerpoint is created on a computer or backlighted device, the child’s need for light is satisfied. If there is light sensitivity, I can turn the light down lower.
Distance Viewing: The device playing the Powerpoint can be placed at the child’s assessed best visual distance. It can bring items for learning into the near space.
Visual Recognition: Children will look at familiar items better than non-familiar ones. Using pictures of familiar items and creating books about familiar topics, events or predictable sequences are much more likely to draw a child’s visual attention and interest. Remember that all children like predictable books!
Visual Motor: Visual attention is important for literacy but the ultimate goal is always independence to control the book and choice of books. With the ability to turn to the next page or to indicate a desire for a different book is often visual motor task. To encourage visual motor, there must be an access method that is matched to the child’s assessed visual skills to find and reach.

Here is a Youtube explanation of how to make the Powerpoint book https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYQCwowU8sk