5a - Introduction to CVIs

Posted by Helen St Clair Tracy in Level 5 - CVIs Basic (Occipital)
Published: 28/01/2020, 12:20am | Updated: 24/02/2020, 7:33am

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/391942309

This is our 33rd lesson and now, finally, we can start explaining the CVIs, how to recognise them and ways to help those who are affected by them!

Please take a few minutes just to go through the checklists at the end of each of the previous four levels, as we will be using the terms and explanations we've previously described.

In Level 3 we introduced many different brain processes that come together to create your visual world.

In the following levels we will be explaining in more detail what happens when those processes are not working typically.

We are introducing three new features, to conclude most of the following lessons. These are:

  • Targeted Support
  • Visual Behaviours
  • Self Referencing

Targeted Support

Anyone familiar with the CVI Scotland website will know there is a word we really don't like, and that word is generic.

Support needs to be matched to the unique needs of each individual. So it has to be specific for the person affected, not generic. Each one of the CVIs alters a different part of the visual world, and each needs a different approach. In the same way, imagine helping two people, each walking with a limp. One person's limp is caused by uncomfortable shoes. The other person's limp is caused by a sprained ankle. The two people require very different approaches. Just because they both have a limp does not mean all limps are treated in the same way!

The CVIs are the same - just because people may look like they have the same difficulties, it does not necessarily follow that they have the same causes and need the same solutions.

Targeted Support explains the approach or approaches we recommend, matched to the individual person's CVI. Once we have gone through the individual CVI's, we will look at more complex combinations, and what happens when several CVIs together are affecting someone.

Visual Behaviours

CVI can be difficult to spot, and in many people it is likely to have gone undetected, even to the person affected. If you know where, and how to look for CVI, it can be suspected by recognising and understanding the behaviours it causes. These behaviours may relate to things a person avoids, or finds difficult or dislikes, or they may be behaviours they use to get round the difficulties. We have explained why it is so important to know why? in Levels 1-3 of these lessons.

Each CVI can cause a range of different behaviours, so we can't list them all, but in future lessons we will review a wide range of resulting challenges and behaviours, from how to safely cross the road, to enjoying a meal with friends, and many more. In these future lessons we will refer back to these CVIs, and the causes of the behaviours.

Remember our Why? image from many previous lessons? Understanding what causes the visual behaviours is key to identifying and best matching the specific support that is needed, as different CVIs can cause the same behaviours, but need different approaches.

Self Referencing

Remember our boxes from level 4 explaining that our personal experiences of our world are different from those of other people.

We need to understand the limitations of the other person's world, and cater for them well, to ensure things are accessible and meaningful to them, so that they can learn.

Yet we all see the world through our own eyes and assume that others see as we do. Our default position is to self reference in this way, even when we know it's not logical to do so.

The key is to imagine seeing as the person with CVI sees, so that we don't fall into this trap, but instead ensure that, for as much time as possible, everything we do and provide can be seen (or understood in other ways), by being accessible, by being within the limit of the person's abilities to see and understand.

These lessons are designed to be practical. At the end of each lesson, we will recommend further reading, including links to this website where there are more detailed explanations.

Ok - The CVIs - let's get started!

Next lesson: Level 5b CVIs Basic (Occipital) - Reduced Visual Acuity


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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.