Whenever I get back from a relaxing holiday, I feel re-invigorated. Tasks left in the in-tray because they seemed overwhelming become a breeze when I return.
Because, for a while, I've been able to break free from the shackles of overstimulation that our modern world imposes.
No longer am I in thrall to reacting to Emails, the News, and a host of other demands, no longer do I have to adapt to my environment. Instead I become free to relax and to choose what I want to do. I feel a sense of release, and can become proactive, feeling free to develop whatever interests that take my fancy. It's liberating.
I'm sure you too can identify with the freedom that times away from the bustle of life can bring about.
So what is life like for those who feel shackled by overstimulation and imposition, owing to the combination of cerebral visual impairment and the demands of others, that are beyond what they are able to cope with.
Nicola McDowell in her blog 8 describes how overwhelming school life can be on account of CVI, while in blog 13 she highlights the great benefit of time out from the school's hustle and bustle.
What if it had been possible to provide some of that sense of calm within the classroom? Would her world have opened up? What if she hadn't had to strive so hard to keep up because what she had to learn had been well within her capacity to access it? Would she have been empowered?
Nicola finally got the opportunity to experiment with this very concept as part of her PhD research developing a framework for supporting children with CVI. As part of the research, she conducted case studies with three children, each of whom had CVI. For each case study, she worked with the children's teaching team to implement a range of strategies to help meet the visual, emotional and behavioural needs of the children. Strategies included uncluttering areas of the classroom and implementing quiet space and calm breaks. These three simple strategies not only made a huge difference to the children's ability to participate both at school and in after school activities, it also empowered them by helping them to understand their own needs better. In their own way, each child was able to recognise when they needed time in the quiet space or a calm break and were supported to use these strategies whenever they needed. The end result was happier, calmer children who were able to engage more in their learning.
In our most recent offering, CVI Related Behaviours, our aim is to give an overview of CVI that will help you to gain greater insights into what it must be like as a young person to have significant limitations in how one can access one's world, yet owing to the lack of understanding by others also be beset by the well meaning ambitions of others to conform with the norms of society, when that feels like an unattainable goal.
Wouldn't it be great if life for affected young people could be more like a holiday enabling them to relax in their visual and auditory worlds?
What would it feel like to be able to explore a more accessible world? How would it feel to no longer feel inflicted by the unrealisable expectations of the fully sighted? I believe these changes would enable such children to become liberated to be proactive by being enabled.
We hope that by providing an understanding that will enable you to create such conditions, the young person you are living / working with will no longer be reacting to barriers but instead will find the gate open to engagement, exploration and self generated learning.
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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.