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Academically High Functioning Case Study

This is a case study to show you how to use the information we have explained in the previous section Understanding Support Needs in Schools, please read this section first.

This and the other case studies show how sometimes small things, both in school and out of school can make a difference. The children in these three case studies are fictional, but the substance of their stories and challenges come from real examples shared by parents.

We have tried to keep these relatively brief, to show the process without going into too much detail that might not be relevant to your child.

Case Study 3 - A high functioning child in a mainstream school (CVI Classification 3)

Jessica: Background

Jessica is sixteen and in mainstream school, she is considered 'high functioning' and expected to get straight A grades in her exams. Jessica needs to wear glasses due to being short sighted, but until recently no other issues with her vision were noted. Jessica is clumsy and very easily distracted, recently her parents have found out that her behaviours match simultanagnosia and optic ataxia.

Jessica's mother writes:

Jessica has always found school challenging, particularly making and maintaining friendships. Now sixteen the dreaded 'boys' have come on the scene and she is terrified. School was ok (other than sports!) because she has her small group of the very brainy girls to be with, but recently they have started drifting off. One problem is that Jessica doesn't like doing the social things - she never has. Once I forced her to try a school disco and the state she was in when she got home was just awful, crying and screaming. I had to give her the next day off school she was still such a mess. I also noticed that in addition to her homework, Jessica seems to go over her classwork again at home. I used to think this was a good thing showing how driven she was, but it takes up all her time. She loves sitting in her bedroom with her cat and her headphones on listening to music with her eyes closed, she can do it for hours. She is on social media all the time, but never actually sees anyone, if it wasn't for school I don't think she'd leave the house. In two years she will be preparing for college (I hope) and I feel I need to start making some changes to prepare her.

Jessica: Before school

This is all fine, it used to be a nightmare but Jessica is very organised, almost obsessively so. Jessica chooses to walk to school, even though it's a good forty five minute walk. She hated getting the bus, sometimes it didn't turn up and everyone would be squeezed onto the next one. It's a shame as all her friends go on the bus, but Jessica insists she prefers to walk.

Jessica: At School

Jessica: Sports

Jessica describes certain sports as ritual humiliations, especially hockey and netball (fortunately she got to drop football, rugby and basketball last year). Not only is she awful at them, she also doesn't like the competitive aggressive nature it can bring out in people, and actually finds the whole experience both intimidating and frightening. Jessica is happy to sit in the library and work, but what she would really like to do is swap it for cross country running which she loves, and is very good at.

Need: Be excused from team sports and allowed to use the time running.

Jessica: Classrooms

Jessica finds sitting at the front really difficult, she is too close to the board and can only attend to some of the information. When further back, ideally around the middle of the class, she finds it much easier, although all the heads in front of her can be a distraction. Ideally a seat in the middle of the classroom by the wall at the side would be best. The problem is each class is in a different room and it's survival of the fittest! Jessica hates walking when the corridors are packed full of 1000+ children all rushing in different directions from one class to another, and is literally terrified of the stairs! She hangs back and is always the last to get into class and always the only remaining seats are at the front.

Fortunately the classroom walls are reasonably clear, apart from the art room. Jessica loves art, I think she loves the freedom of it and lack of rules, but the room actually gives her a headache. Jessica was thinking of taking art at a higher level next year, and the only thing stopping her is the art room.

Needs: An allocated seat in each classroom, near the middle by a wall. A clear space within the art department where Jessica can work, without the visual clutter.

Jessica: General

Jessica does not want to stand out, she just wants to get on with her work and not make a fool of herself. By the end of the day she is so exhausted that she can become ratty and snappy. She used to come home and scream, now she goes straight up to her room and hides with her cat, headphones and iPad for company. Once she has got into trouble for using an 'inappropriate tone' with an afternoon teacher (she told him to shut-up), not like Jessica at all. When asked she said his voice was just getting louder and louder in her head until she thought it might explode - she felt awful, but on discussing it, afternoons are much harder than mornings. Jessica has asked if she can come home at lunchtime, running twenty minutes each way and getting a twenty minute break in the middle. She clearly needs some space to re-charge her batteries and half an hour during lunch somewhere quiet would achieve this. Jessica appreciates that she will miss social time with her friends, but the quality of that time is quite poor anyway because she is so shattered.

Needs: A quiet calm place for Jessica to be, undisturbed, at lunchtimes.

Jessica: Tangible Quantifiable Demonstrable Needs carried forward:

  • Be excused from team sports and allowed to use the time running.
  • An allocated seat in each classroom, near the middle by a wall. A clear space within the art department where Jessica can work, without the visual clutter.
  • An allocated seat in each classroom, near the middle by a wall. A clear space within the art department where Jessica can work, without the visual clutter.


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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.