What I wish educators knew about my child who has cortical visual impairment (CVI).
1. Cortical visual impairment (CVI) is a brain based impairment. That means that my son’s vision can improve. Vision improves with appropriate assessment, interventions, accommodations and support (The CVI Range, Roman-Lantzy).
2. My child’s cortical visual impairment is about visual processing in the brain and his ability to interpret what he is looking at. My son’s CVI is about visual recognition, not acuity. CVI is about the brain, not the eye.
3. My child with CVI needs opportunities to use his vision throughout the day. He needs to be given the chance to use vision – before others label objects, images, everything for him. Looking is an opportunity to learn.
4. Pointing out salient features and using comparative language to talk about how objects are alike or different (Roman), are important CVI approaches for my child because this is how he learns to make sense of what he is looking at.
5. Although behaviors can look similar (looking at lights, movement, shiny objects, the need for routine and predictability, to name a few), my child has cortical visual impairment (CVI), not autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Approaches for children with autism are inappropriate for my child with CVI. What helps my child are approaches for CVI, including his accommodations, modifications, and a CVI perspective.
6. Enlarging school materials does not make them accessible for my child with CVI. Using color highlighting and increased spacing/reducing complexity of array (Roman) helps make his school materials accessible.
7. At school, my child with CVI needs support when it comes to social development and social skills so that he can have access and be included and make friends, just like the other kids.
8. My child with CVI needs anticipatory language and “radio language” to understand what comes next, and fill in all of the incidental visual information that his peers get by simply walking into a room and looking around.
9. When my child is receiving an appropriate eduation – school materials are correctly modified, with regular vision breaks, and appropriate support – you will see decreased “behavior.”
10. When my child’s school materials are appropriately modified for him – then he can show you what he knows and how smart he is.
A last wish — that educators hear the words “cortical visual impairment” (CVI) long before my son with CVI comes into the classroom.