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Gordon Dutton’s Blog (22) Preventing fear and anxiety

When I met Gillian a couple of years ago she explained that she had become a bit clumsy during the previous few months and had begun to find it difficult to find things in the kitchen and elsewhere in the house. She later went on to develop a condition called posterior cortical atrophy, in which the top of the brain at the back loses nerve cells and becomes thinner. Now, when she looks at a tray of cups and saucers she can only see one thing at a time.

During this last two years she has gradually passed through the full spectrum of impaired visual parallel processing, from missing the odd word on a printed page to being unable to see more than one item at a time, due to her simultanagnostic vision.

With understanding and a little support, it is possible to help the person with CVI who is experiencing fear and anxiety, to regulate elements of their attention more effectively by helping them to calmly and quietly, learn what visual and auditory sensations mean, one by one.

This needs knowledge and understanding of:

The vision of the person with CVI

What has been mis-perceived, why, and how

The actual experiences that first led to heightened emotional states

How these led to states of anxiety and even fear

Approaches that can reverse this situation step by step at the person's pace, through...

  • Creating a relaxing, calm uncluttered environment
  • Choosing times when the person is most aware
  • Meaningfully re-framing each experience to understand them
  • Progressively building up knowledge of what is safe, and how and why
  • Progressively creating confidence and resilience

The people who know the individual best, including the parents, close family and carers, have the greatest understanding of the key issues.


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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.