What is CVI?



Clumsy (or ungainly or accident prone)

We will use the term clumsy for all of the above, which includes:

  • Bumping into things
  • Tripping over things
  • Dropping things / Breaking things
  • Knocking things over / spilling things

With CVI there are three main reasons for this:

  • 1. Something is not seen
  • 2. Your child seems distracted (see previous page)
  • 3. Something in the real world, is not located in quite the right place in your child's mind (explained below).

To explain 3. (above). Place a pen in front of you. Now go to pick it up, but as you reach for it, think about what your vision and hand and arm are doing together.

Your vision is guiding your hand, showing it where to go, to pick the pen up. It is guiding your hand through three dimensional (3D) space to the right place.

This guidance through three dimensional space uses a 3D map created in your mind, to accurately match where things are in the real world, so you can pick up the pen.

With CVI that match may not always be so good, so the physical location of the pen in the real world, and in the mind are slightly different, so when your child goes to pick it up they can miss.

This is called optic ataxia.


  • Thinking about what is and is not visible to your child when they are clumsy.
  • Reducing distraction (see previous page)
  • Teaching your child to extend their little finger as a guide, to gently touch the surface that something is on, before picking it up, reducing the risk of knocking it over.
  • Teaching your child to slow down when reaching for things and moving among things.

Home Talk

Between you, try to learn if the problem is one of your child's three-dimensional map, and if it is, how much is it affected by. There are fun exercises you could do together, like putting a straw into a bottle top or touching the top of a pen (see link to Lesson 9a below). The more your child practices moving accurately and is motivated, the better the outcome.

Observe the conditions in which their clumsiness is better and in which it is more severe. If the clumsiness is due to the map, some activities like certain sports may always be difficult, and you might need to think of different ways to do things, or different sports and activities that are more rewarding and motivating.

Further reading
Lesson 9a The Map

Writing Storyboard (if your child is clumsy and struggles with neat handwriting)


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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.