What is CVI?



Forgetful can mean, your child seeming to forget...

  • where they were going
  • what they were talking about
  • what the teacher or someone else was talking about
  • how something works
  • where something is kept or where they put something
  • what they were doing from one moment to the next

We use the word seeming...'your child seeming to forget', on purpose because the CVIs can make a child seem forgetful for three important reasons:

  • 1. Something is not seen, but this can look like forgetfulness.
  • 2. Something is not known, like a route to the shops, so when your child gets lost, it looks like they have forgotten their way. To forget something you need to have known it in the first place.
  • 3. Insufficient Attention. CVI affects how many things a person can attend to in their mind at any one time. So if they are trying to listen in class, yet there is noise outside, they may not even be aware that their ability to listen to the teacher has reduced, (as this all happens in parts of the brain we are not conscious of), until the teacher asks your child a question, but they appear to have forgotten what the teacher was talking about (but they were unable to listen in the first place owing to the distraction).

So maybe your child is not forgetful after all?


Thinking about what your child is seeing when they appear forgetful. How much do you understand about what they see, as being different to what you see? What is and is not visible to your child?

Thinking what else is going on around your child when they appear forgetful: What noises are there? How cluttered is it? Is there a lot of surrounding movement? Also, how is your child feeling?

Home Talk (Example)

Let's use a simple example of a child being asked to 'Bring the blue cup to the kitchen' but they arrive in the kitchen having 'forgotten the blue cup'.

The following suggestions can be adapted to fit many scenarios.

  • Were the words used, understood? Does your child understand what you mean when you use the words 'blue' and 'cup'. Talk about objects and colours together, to see what is and is not known.
  • Was all of the instruction heard? Looking and listening at the same time can be a challenge for many with CVI. Sometimes children mentally fill in the gaps where words were not heard nor understood, and so, pick up information wrongly.
  • Don't ask 'Why did you forget...' because often they won't know, because they didn't forget. Through talking together, see if you can figure it out.

When your child seems forgetful, learn to identify key factors that may be causing this.

Some children with CVI are affected by lack of short term memory, this is different from what we have described above (see link below for more information).

Further reading
Lesson 2g Memory
Cool Games (where the names of colours or objects may not be known)


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About Us

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