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School After Corona Pandemic (2020)

This page has been written for parents who have a child with CVI returning to school after the Corona Virus. We have written a companion page for non-verbal children with CVI returning to school after the Corona Virus, please click here to view.

Transition Steps is our guide to help plan for changes for people with CVI, and follows a 7 Step Approach:

The Corona Virus has presented children with CVI with particular challenges, and we have written this guide to help with the transition back to school.

We know that different schools in different areas and regions in different countries are all making plans for their children to return to school, some are already back at school, some schools did not close.

  • Everywhere is different.
  • Every school is different.
  • Every child with CVI is different.
  • Every child with CVIs experience of life at home due to the Corona Virus is different.
  • Every child needs a unique approach tailored not just to their needs, but to their experiences during the corona virus changes, and allowing for how things are going to be different - which is different everywhere!

So, everyone needs to PLAN.

STEP 1: PLAN

A plan needs time, so give yourself as much time as you can, as you may need to request changes are made. We are using the term 'lock-down' for the period of social distancing and isolation, but different countries used different terms.

Consider:

  • Before lock-down - what was your child doing well and enjoying? What was your child possibly struggling with?
  • During lock-down - if your child has been away from friends and school, how has that been for them? What have they missed? Are there any positives?
  • After lock-down - You need to understand in detail how school is going to be different.

Who can you ask about the school? Possibly a teacher, maybe your child has a VI teacher?

What have you been told about your child's new day? You need to go through every part of every day and see what may have been missed, or may need more though or attention.

Our suggestion is to break each day down into blocks of time, e.g. 8.30am-9am, and think:

  • Where are they? Physically, at a bus stop, walking, in a classroom, queuing to get into a classroom, walking between classrooms, in the playground etc, then think...
  • What are they doing? Walking, waiting, learning, eating, socialising etc, and think in as much details as you can...
  • What is different? And write it all down or record it somewhere.

We have created a form you can print off to do this, click here.

A form some may find useful to help plan for changes or work out the cause of existing difficulties. To download this form, please click on link above this image.A form some may find useful to help plan for changes or work out the cause of existing difficulties. To download this form, please click on link above this image.

You need a way of working out the difference between what is ok, and what needs some attention before your child returns to school. A simple scoring system can help.

  • Is this perfect for my child? Score it a 1
  • Can we do this better? Score it a 2
  • Needs changing! Score it a 3

A simple system of scoring can help you prioritise the areas needing attention most urgently.A simple system of scoring can help you prioritise the areas needing attention most urgently.

We started completing our form, and the chances are that like us, you will come up with an enormous list of questions:

Example from the form above:
Time: 0730-0800 hours
Location: Bus stop and bus
Activity: Transport
Notes: Fewer people allowed on bus, only one person per double seat, queuing at bus stop - need to check, check bus times not changed, are masks needed?

A little thing, like feeling confused on the bus because the seating arrangements have changed can be very stressful, and an awful start to the day.

This is why time is needed to plan. BUT - what you think as important and relevant to your child, may be different to the things your child thinks are important and relevant, so next you need to TALK.

STEP 2: TALK

Talk first or plan first?
Some children may prefer you talk first and plan together. Others, particularly younger children where learning has been affected, may prefer you consider a plan first. You know your child, do what works best for you.

Talk to your child. Explain that this is a plan, and that how they feel and what they want matters, and find the time to go through it all. Not in a single sitting, just at a pace that works for everyone. When you have agreed, next you need to extend that conversation to a person who has responsibility for your child's school experience (usually their teacher).

With that, you are building a TEAM.

STEP 3: TEAM

This is going to be a team effort, and the teacher will have other children with different needs and concerns to support. You will help the teacher if you are organised and structured in your questions and requests.

Ideally, allowing enough time, you can go through your list, and agree the changes that will help your child. But there may be issues that can't be agreed.

There may well be rules and regulations the teacher has no control over, that are part of safety measures. For example, markings on the floor to show where to stand may not be visible for your child, but that is how the school district has decided children must organise themselves - so it is not accessible,

This may feel completely unfair, and be a bit like a brick-wall for you child. So think - what are your options...

  • 1) Learn how to do something differently
  • 2) Change it - which may not be possible due to safety rules
  • 3) Avoid it, don't do it - possibly not forever, just for now.

In these times, 'perfect' for your child may not be achievable. With planning, hopefully you can make the best of what is available, and importantly prepare for what may be difficult.

Children with visual impairments have been particularly hard hit due to Corona, and the usual accessibility considerations may be second to safety considerations.

Whilst there are going to be a number of limitations, think also of the OPPORTUNITIES:

STEP 4: OPPORTUNITY

Over the last few months, are there things your child has responded well to that you can introduce to school life?

We have thought of a CVI specific list of opportunities, but also difficulties:

Social Distancing:
Opportunities - Looming affects many with CVI, and the greater physical distance between your child and others may mean they feel calmer, especially when everyone is moving about, for example between classrooms.
Difficulties - Judging distances can be very difficult for children with CVI, so they may accidentally get closer to other people than allowed or intended, which can cause anger and embarrassment, and a safety risk.

Clear Classrooms
Opportunities - Fewer desks, fewer children, less movement, and for cleaning purposes, less clutter is all good news for your child's brain. It is likely the classroom environment is going to be easier for learning.

New School Layout
Difficulties: Your child likely heavily relies upon mental maps of their school, which are going to need to be updated, and this can take time. Also, many schools are using markings on the floors. Many children with CVI have a lower visual field impairment and so will not be aware of these markings.

Face Masks (on others):
Opportunities - Understanding facial expressions with CVI is difficult for many, so in some respects this 'evens out the playing field' a little, and all will be encouraged to use words to describe feeling as expressions are not available ot anyone.
Difficulties - The human face is already difficult to process and recognise, and face masks may make it more difficult, and possible be upsetting for some children.

Face Masks (on your child)
Difficulties - Many with CVI have a sort of multi sensory impairment, where input from other senses is difficult to calibrate. Some children may find getting used to the feeling of wearing a mask difficult, and may find concentrating in class more difficult as it creates a distraction and irritation.

Children were forced, for their own safety, at short notice with little planning into a temporary period of isolation. That was the first 'new'. They are not going back to how things were, they are going forward to another 'new'. A new, new if you like. And with CVI we like change to be nice and slow and controlled - not like this! So, within your plan, there needs to be FLEXIBILITY.

STEP 5: FLEXIBILITY

With the best planning, there are always going to be unexpected things that come up. When they do, review. It may be that only a small simple adjustment is required. It may be a major re-think is needed and you have to go back up to Step 1 (above).

Children with CVI can easily become overwhelmed and stressed. As part of your plan you need a plan for when things go wrong or get out of control, like an EMERGENCY button or exit.

STEP 6: EMERGENCY

Teach your child to recognise the signs of becoming overwhelmed, which can lead to fear, stress, anxiety and even CVI Meltdown. Our page 'Anxious' gives a brief explanation and suggestions. If you child is becoming stressed because it is all too much, then they need a way to get help, either by helping themselves if able, of seeking help from others. Agree in advance with your child what they should do in different circumstances.

And finally...

STEP 7: PATIENCE

This is going to be difficult for everyone. Your child, you, the teachers, the other children. Adjustments take time, and there will likely be many more adjustments. We champion parents at CVI Scotland because you are the ones with the most patience, love, motivation, time and commitment. Our children need us now more than ever.

Take care

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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.