Moving is hard. Yesterday was about learning what a Great Big Deal the CVI characteristic of novelty still is for my son who has cortical visual impairment (CVI). After driving across the country, itself an exercise in novelty, among many other things, our belongings arrived in a small portion of a vast shipping container. Prior to its arrival, we talked about having our “stuff” again. For several days, we occupied our new home with limited possessions and no furniture. It was the perfect low complexity environment for a child in Phase III CVI to learn about and explore a new living space.
Furniture came slowly. A few days after settling in, we celebrated eating dinner while seated at an Ikea kitchen table instead of eating while standing at the kitchen counter. A few more days later, we relished our last “camp night” (which translates to sleeping on the floor, a handy, familiar tradition to draw upon for such a big transition) and relished the first night of sleeping on a mattress.
But when our “stuff” did finally arrive, it came all at once, everywhere. And our “stuff” included helpers, strangers, invading this newfound, formerly pristine space, previously occupied only by us. On the morning of, we talked several times about the movers who would soon come over to help unload our trailer, our “stuff.” We verbally rehearsed the details several times.
Our “stuff”, when it arrived, looked nothing like the possessions we had left behind – clothes, toys, smaller pieces of furniture. “Stuff” was nothing but boxes, rolled up rugs, empty bookshelves. “Stuff” was all over the place, organized as much as possible by room, but still everywhere. The boxes, piled and stacked and lining the periphery of the rooms, instantly changed the environment. By then we had been in our new place for several days, but even so, this address was easily still under the CVI characteristic of novelty (Roman-Lantzy). And now that new space was utterly transformed.
Instead of the excitement that most kids would have at the thought of the imminent reunion with toys, Jasper sought refuge. Even before the movers arrived, perhaps in anticipation and preparation for chaos, he had found solace in a downstairs room that was quiet (low sensory complexity) and contained few objects (low complexity of array). For a few hours after the unloading was done, and the movers had moved on, Jasper wanted nothing to do with our “stuff.” He insisted on remaining in the downstairs room, where he told me he was “working.” Novelty, complexity, moving, is hard.
When moving, and we are experienced at it, his belongings, his furnishings, his things, are always the priority. What can we bring along and place in our new place that is instantly recognizable, familiar? For him, one object is an oversized yellow rubber ducky that he has known his whole life. It helps that rubber duckies are preferred color yellow (Roman-Lantzy).
Unpacking centers on his “stuff,” searching around for boxes named “Jasper,” and finding the most familiar, beloved toys (Playmobil). It was this strategy that finally lured him out from the downstairs room. “Where are my Playmobil cars?” Oh, they’re in your room.
The unpacking continues and in spite of good progress, today it was still – “Mommy, can you get rid of all these boxes??”