Thursday, 9 December 2010


FOR CVI CHILDREN THE KEY is to enhance their skills of attention. To do this you can:

Visually simplify what you present or choose toys that are visually simple.

Make sure elements of the visual target are in sharp contrast to each other (bright colours are best) with no important small details (like little eyes on a teddy).

As often as not a CVI child spends a lot of time in a room which has patterned wall paper, lots of pretty pictures of family members on the walls, shelving with displays and ‘niknaks, and light coming in from both windows and ceiling. In addition toys are frequently spread around the room in no particular order (especially if he is not the only child). In other words to put it bluntly, to him at least, he is living in chaos. We all know how unpleasant it can be to live in a messy house / room. For a CVI child it is more than unpleasant it is disabling. It prevents him from seeing and making sense of his world properly. And in turn it hinders his learning and development.

So what can you do about this? There are certain solutions I have recommended and seen some very enterprising, resourceful dads develop.

(1) Clear the room space where he is directly playing. Move furniture away so things are not too close to him. The further things are away the less he may see them (especially if he is near sighted) and therefore the less they are a distraction. A blurry background is actually a help to a child who finds the complicated world just outside of his reach a little too overwhelming. A nice trick (suggested by Professor Gordon Dutton) for children in a PMLD school is to have around a few pairs of reading specs (+1.5 or +2).This has the same effect: it blurrs the background and makes the world a much simpler place because he can only see clearly what is nearby!

(2) If you really can’t clear the space then you may be able to create a ‘little box’. I think the idea originated with Lillie Nielsen in Denmark. You can buy a ready-made foldable room/box good if your child is not too old. One company makes something called a 'BeActive Box'. I have used this and it is quite suitable for little ones. There was also a product patented by this website: It was a foldable screen that you could use as a plain background. But you can get any handyman to knock up a simple screen with 2 or 3 sides. Paint it in one plain colour and put it around your child while he is playing.

(3) Lillie Nielsen developed something else she called a resonance board. But if you don’t want the expense of buying this (and these things are expensive), you can make it yourself with a square metre of board and a 2-inch ridge around the edges. One resourceful parent put pipe-insulating foam sleeving around the edges for safety. This creates a useful plain play area that stands out from everything else.  It also contains whatever toy you want to put in there so it does not roll out. But a word of advice. Again one thing at a time. If you place two and three toys on the board your child will struggle to see any of them. Much better to put only one toy. Then he can easily see it and reach out for it.

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