Sunday, 8 March 2015

Vision Stimulation or Vision Training - Does it Help?

I was asked to put the case for and against vision stimulation. This is an short outline of my talk. The full outline can be downloaded from the link below. 

    What is Vision Training?
·      VT is for a child who cannot see to encourage them to see
·      Initial Assessment: Establish what child can see & present accordingly
o   Preferential Looking - Keeler Cards/Cardiff Cards
o   Observation / parent questionaire
o   Can they see faces/lines/shapes/colours/lights?
·      Often small lights/flashing lights gain child’s attention

     Against VT
·      Overheard doctor say to parent: “no evidence extra stimulation makes any difference… “
·      Research: Paucity of child studies - ambiguous & inconclusive 
o   Poverty of literature – “there have been few studies to systematically and quantitatively evaluate … patients with CVI” (Good, 2001). (i.e. research into VT for CVI)
o   Samples are small / non-robust
o   Unethical to withhold from needy child
·      May damage child’s self-esteem
     For VT
·      Research: Can also support VT
o   Only ‘ambiguous’ because of low incidence/small samples
o   Useful studies & papers from a few CVI ‘specialists’
- Ophthalmologists: Good & Hoyt (California); Good & Groenveld (British Columbia); Gordon Dutton (Glasgow); Dr Lea Hyvarinen (Finland)
- Teachers: Lilli Nielsen (Denmark); Roman (California)
Underpinned by three theories:
·      #1. The Critical Period
·      #2. Brain Plasticity
·      #3. The Responsive Environment 

  The full outline argument is can be downloaded from this link:


Barriers and Bridges to Learning

Here's an AV presentation I put together for tomorrow's training at the Eye Hospital. It examines some of the barriers that hinder a child's learning and some 'bridges' that we can employ to improve the success opportunities of visually impaired children.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

iPad Apps for Vision Stimulation

Following on the last post, I couldn't resist sharing this very cool You Tube video showing some of the apps available for visually impaired kids. Enjoy!


Here is another video resource I am uploading for the training day at the London Western Eye Hospital this Monday 9th March. It is long - 7 minutes and 33 seconds! - but I was not able to shorten it without reducing the impact of hearing the full story. Little Christina is an absolute star and in the three years since I have been involved with the family we have seen some amazing progress through several ups and downs of course.  The full story would be much much longer. But there is some really helpful information in this for any family who has a child with cortical visual impairment / cerebral VI. She is still very globally delayed and has just started at a nearby special school. But compared to how she was when we first met she is a different person. Of course it is impossible to disentangle the interaction between maturation and intervention - nature and nurture so to speak. All I can say is that mum has been totally dedicated to doing everything she possibly can for her little girl and I dare to say that she would not be where she is today if it had not been for mum's persistence and dedication in following through a programme of visual training. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


Another video I have just uploaded. This time Marina talks about how I introduced the 'lights' and the 'fibre optics', which made a dramatic difference to Cormac. Prior to this time (about 6-8 weeks old) he was barely responding visually. But afterwards he began to fix and follow and develop the really useful vision that he has today. He is now xis years old!

The 'critical period' so called refers to a 'window of opportunity' in a child's development as the brain is growing and developing connections. It is a time when any form of intervention will assist the connections to grow and develop. Years ago the famous experiments by Hubel and Wiesel demonstrated clearly that unless the visual system is stimulated at a crucial time in development the visual system will never be able to make sense of visual information. They carried out experiments on kittens' eyes - which most people would consider quite unacceptable today - but they proved beyond doubt that the eyes need 'input' if vision is to develop.

You might have to turn up the sound on this one: it was videoed on my 'new' iPhone! 



On 9th March I am part of a training day at the Western Eye Hospital in Marylebone London. There are various orthoptists, optometrists and an ophthalmologist talking about eye conditions and assessment. I am speaking on the role of the VI teacher and about Visual Stimulation with infants. I interviewed some of my parents and I am uploading the videos here.