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Sunday, June 7, 2015

June is Vision Health Month. Are You Looking at Your Student's Vision?

June is Child Vision Awareness Month. Vision is a very important sense for all of us, but even more so for our AAC users.  Those who need to use pictures to communicate rely more heavily on vision to maintain their attachment to social interaction and engagement.
Yet many of the students we see with Complex Communication Needs have vision issues that are not related at all to their visual acuity.

Vision, more than any other system, allows the individual to take in massive amounts of stimuli from the environment for the brain to act upon.  In the process, the individual gazes at things, does so in specific sequences, and focuses on specific details in order for the brain to make decisions about what to do.
Vision develops as a process of neurological development and maturation.  Our ability to process visual stimuli and attach meaning to them - called “seeing” - involves not only a healthy vision system, but also healthy neurological system.  When a child is born with a neurological disorder, it is likely that a visual impairment will exist.  Development of the visual system, learning through interaction with the environment, is also impaired when a child has motor impairment.  Eyes do not tell the individual what to do.  The brain’s experiences do.  Without these experiences, or when the experiences are impaired in some way, the brain cannot tell the individual how to act and react.

“The current leading cause of visual impairment among children is not a disease or condition of the eyes, but Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) - also known as cerebral visual impairment - in which visual dysfunction is caused by damage or injury to the brain.” (American Printing House)

CVI is a neurological visual disorder.  It results in unique visual responses to objects and people in the environment. 
A child with CVI may see a world full of colors and shapes with perfect acuity, but he may not have any idea what he is seeing.  The child may not make meaning from the visual images and may not know that the colors and shapes are a car, a hat, or his mother.

Christine Roman-Lantz has written an excellent book with loads of information to guide any of us working with these students.
I am including the Amazon link here.  Please note I am in no way affiliated with either the author or Amazon.

I am also providing a 20 core word communication board adapted for students with C.V.I. using the colors and high contrast that are most often found advantageous.

Take a look at your students who have neurological impairments, and make sure any vision issues are being addressed.

Keep on talking.

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