cerebral visual impairment

What Do Children with CVI See?

(Click to enlarge)

Optical illusion lost cow

It can be so hard to explain what children with CVI see.  In fact, we really don’t know what each individual child with CVI experiences their visual world. That will be different for each child based on the location and extent of the visual brain involvement, the other areas of the brain impacted, the child’s unique visual experiences before and after the injury and the way that unique brain rewires. This picture is a good way to explain the difficulty with visual recognition that children with CVI have. It is not what the the world looks like to a child with CVI. In this simulation, you see all the colors of black and white.  You see each line and shading but your brain is searching its visual memory for what this image represents.  You can feel several CVI visual behaviors:

You are experiencing delay in recognition: its taking you a long time to understand this.

This is visually complex scene.

If you were in a loud environment, it would take you longer to find meaning (Sensory Integration difficulties).

If I asked you to look at this while balancing on a thin balance beam, you would take longer to understand the picture (Positional Complexity).

You want to hold this closer to your face to understand what it represents (Distance).

You have never seen this before so it is new to you.  Once you have understood it the first time.  It will take you less time to find it the next time. (Novelty/Visual Recognition)

This simulation is a great tool to use with teams to help them understand that looking does not mean understanding what is seen. This is one of the greatest concepts to convey to parents and school based team members.

I see my hand!

I see my hand!

To help your child become aware of their own hands, use a hair scrunchie on the wrist to draw their visual attention to the natural movement of their own body. Hand watching, typical of all children, is a developmental step children with CVI might miss. It is essential for hand use.