Encouraging Efficient Use of Vision in Students with CVIEncouraging Efficient Use of Vision in Students with CVI
The following are suggestions to use with infants, young children, and students who have Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) or who are suspected to have a brain damage related vision loss. These suggestions are intended to encourage students with CVI to use their vision more efficiently. These suggestions correlate loosely with functioning levels/Phases described in Dr. Christine Roman’s book, Cortical Visual Impairment – An Approach to Assessment and Intervention. The reader is encouraged to read through all suggestions, as some students functioning in Phase III might still benefit from suggestions in Phase II or even Phase I, students in Phase II might also benefit from suggestions in Phase I and Phase III, etc. Use the suggestions, especially in Phase I, in conjunction with regularly occurring activities in daily life such as feeding, toileting, grooming and amusement activities. These are general guidelines; no individual student with CVI will ever fit into any one category.
Students Functioning in Phase I
Students in Phase I are generally functioning at a level where they are just beginning to alert to light and objects with movement. The focus in this phase is the building of visual behaviors. Environmental complexity and distractions need to be strictly controlled. Sound can sometimes be used to initiate visual attention, but should be discontinued as soon as the child visually locates the target. Often, the auditory learning channel is the strongest and if a sound source continues longer than necessary, the child may look away to attend to the sound. When the child looks away, he/she discontinues learning through the visual channel and discontinues building the neurological pathway that helps the child make sense of what he/she sees. The same applies to tactual input. The child at this stage may notice visual targets up to about an arm’s length away (24” to 36”). Some suggestions offered in Phase II and Phase III may also be applicable to a child functioning in Phase I.
Students Functioning in Phase II
A student functioning in Phase II is using his/her vision more consistently, but often not efficiently. The teacher and caretaker will want to work towards encouraging the child to use their vision during daily routines and activities. Generally, students at this stage are able to visually attend to targets up to about 4 or 5 feet away. Many of the above considerations may still apply and some suggestions in Phase III may also apply.