Change is hard

IMG_2204A new school year. Substitute teachers. The new student in class. An unexpected fire drill and, God forbid, the lockdown drill. A different para today. Meeting a new provider for a new therapy appointment. For children with cortical visual impairment (CVI), a typical day is a long day of constant change. We are all familiar with Heraclitus’ quote: “Change is the only constant in life.” For a child with CVI, when we talk about change, we are talking about novelty (Roman).

All of us, even grown ups, have our thresholds for coping with change. “Coping” because often change is not in our control, no matter how much we want to believe otherwise. When we work with children with CVI, we provide support around the ten characteristics (Roman). Novelty is one of the toughest characteristics. When working with them, be mindful of your own thresholds for change.

For example…

Way back in 2006, we were introduced to the phenomenon of Facebook and social media. It took off like wildfire, so quickly becoming so important in our lives. All of a sudden, you could hold the world and everyone in it, right there in the palm of your hand. Friends, families, coworkers, peers, celebrities, news, politicians – what could possibly go wrong with this?

We swiftly took to Facebook, expertly navigating the page payout. We quickly became comfortable, snuggling up with it. “Friending” people became a thing. Eventually so did “Unfriending.” “Jane is…” began each social media update. It was up to us to complete the sentence. It was fun, it was soon familiar.

IMG_2310Then one day – you opened up Facebook only to find, to your horror – an updated layout! Sometimes, an entirely different layout! Opening Facebook to these new, unanticipated changes brought panic, or a full on anxiety attack.  The phenomenon of social media had worked its way into our lives, it was a habit, a routine, an addiction.

We loved Facebook – but enough with the changes! We want it to stay the same. Hands off my Facebook – I want mine to stay the same forever please, enough with the changes. Each time we struggled to make sense of each new layout, each new change – where did my Friend list go? Whatever happened to Notes? Why did they change the font? What happened to my Photos? “Jane is…” as an update became a blank canvas. Users pleaded for old layouts. How do I bypass this? How do I hack this? Why are they doing this to us?? Stop it, Facebook, just stop. All I want is to check in and see my friends, I don’t have time for all these changes! Just stop!!

Eventually Facebook got the message. They started giving us – who cannot handle change – a head’s up on coming updates. All of us needed that anticipatory language. Most of us struggle with change – especially when unexpectedly thrust into the midst of our daily lives.

“Change is the only constant in life.” Let’s remember how hard it can be for us, let alone for our kids with CVI.


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