What is CVI?


Pick & Mix, Wheelchair Users - Personality (and Introduction)

You only need to look at topics relevant to your child.You only need to look at topics relevant to your child.

Welcome to our Pick & Mix Selection!

You only need to look at topics relevant to your child.

In the sections below our aim is to provide a CVI Pick & Mix Selection for you.

We invite you to take an imaginary shopping bag along to our selections, to pick (by clicking on the links) issues you think are relevant and ideas you think may help the child with CVI whom you support.

Our 'Stock' is made up of ideas and suggestions, picked up over decades of working with people with CVI and their parents and carers, teachers, doctors and therapists, who've shared their experiences, so others can learn.

This section is written mainly for parents and carers, but is relevant for all affected by CVI too.

Wheelchair Users

We know that some children with CVI use a wheelchair, sometimes or all of the time.

In these sections for wheelchair users we will be looking only at additional areas particular to being in a wheelchair. Some of this will also apply to younger children with CVI who use a pram or buggy / stroller.

If your child with CVI who uses a wheelchair has a good understanding of language, so they can explain things to you, and you can explain things to them, please also use our Pick & Mix pages.

If your child with CVI who uses a wheelchair is non-verbal, or has limited language and can struggle to understand explanations or instructions, please also use our section Pick & Mix Non-Verbal Children pages.


This material aims to help you to better understand the ways CVI uniquely affects your child, and to give you helpful ideas and suggestions, matched to their needs.

Pick & Mix has three sections to help you identify approaches to help, matched to your child's needs.


  • 1. Personality - to help you identify your child's needs through their personality and behaviours (this section).
  • 2. Labels - your child may have been given labels as descriptions or diagnoses. Here we explain a little about what they may mean, along with ideas to explore.
  • 3. Activities - lists of approaches to take for specific activities, in the home, at school and play, with simple suggested solutions for difficulties caused by CVI.

The section with most issues specific to wheelchair users is 3. Activities, but there are some areas under General and Labels which we will explain.

Wheelchair Users - General

A wheelchair for a child with CVI it can serve a number of positive purposes:

  • Protective Shield - There are many reasons people with CVI may seem jumpy, anxious or even frightened. See Frightened, or Frightened (Non-Verbal Children). The physical frame of a wheelchair can give your child a sense of physical safety, in the same way as some children feel safe when in a car. Some children do not need a wheelchair all the time. When going somewhere unavoidable that may be particularly challenging, for example a busy airport to go on holiday, a wheelchair may make the experience much less stressful for your child because it can be a Safe Place and can provide a Protective Shield.
  • Releases Brain Processing Power - Some children with CVI who use a wheelchair can walk, but this is not always safe, and they may trip over things, bump into things, fall over and become tired very quickly. Walking requires looking, and balance, and an ongoing process or interpreting the visual, auditory moving scene around them, to ensure they move and navigate safely. Where children are able to walk, obviously this is to be encouraged, but the demands of walking may mean that they are unable to do much else, like learn from their surroundings. Sometimes taking the child in a wheelchair means they can feel protected, so they don't have to worry about their safety and balance and won't fall over or hurt themselves. This can release brain capacity to observe and learn. Note - this is one of the reasons horse riding is so popular for many children with CVI, because the horse ensures the space is safe and movement is much easier, so the child can relax.
  • More Physical Space - A wheelchair can send a signal that this person needs a bit more space. In crowded places, a little more space for children with CVI is always going to be helpful.

A wheelchair can also serve purposes that are not so helpful, including:

  • Looming - If someone is pushing the child, they may not be aware that the child may not be able to judge distances well. Things coming towards them in their chair, such as other people, cyclists, cars, and even fixed things like litter bins and lampposts, may make them think they are going to collide. As the child is secured in the wheelchair, they are powerless. This can be extremely distressing, and when out and about it is important to always be aware of this. If the child becomes distressed, try to create a protective shield, most easily done by holding or hugging them. This is one of the reasons why so many people with CVI hate busy crowded places.

Further reading

Horse Riding with CVI
Protective Shields
Safe Places


Your generous donations will be put to immediate use in supporting our charity...

Donate Here

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.