After learning about the nature of her child's vision a mother of a child with CVI recently asked me Where do I start?
Parents of such children whom I meet, are often dynamic, motivated and able.
These can be pro-active individuals who are self driven and can find it difficult to change down a gear for a slower longer drive when they've been used to journeying through life at high speed.
The initial frustration of being someone who usually drives at 80mph, who now has to adapt to the needs of a child who is, at present, a 10mph person, can cause difficulties.
But if it's possible to help convert one's child in the slow lane to one in a faster lane, then wow - let's do it. Now!
A big but...
Once one has learned about and understood CVI, one needs to imagine being inside the mind of the child to be able to work at that child's pace, so as to help set a new direction for learning. To do this one needs at first to reset the pace of one's own mind, to match the pace of one's child.
What is clear is the need for us all not only to help parents accept the new information, but also to help them slow down and fall in step with their child's speed of processing information, so that they can then work together at the same pace as their child to start to bring about a change in direction together.
One cannot inflict movement in a child with cerebral palsy by moving their arms.
In like measure, one cannot inflict development of vision or language in this way either.
Instead one needs to change the direction of travel into more fertile pasture, so that approaches that once fell on rocky soil, now fall on fertile soil. The increased rate of growth of plants on the fertile soil is intrinsic - in response to the change of soil.
When one learns about ideas that may help one's child, one's mind can race with new ideas. The temptation may then be to attempt everything at once, at one's own pace, only to find that this approach didn't work, and give up.
But change cannot be brought about by hitching a fast car to a slow car and driving off at speed.
Yes the child may appear to move faster with this approach, but attempts to gain new development through pulling or pushing don't come from within the child, and are unlikely to work. Such soil may initially seem fertile but it is shallow. There may be a spurt of growth, but without the nurture of watering, matched in amount and in time to the needs of the plant, it may wilt.
The first step in bringing about change for one's child after gaining new knowledge, is to work towards seeing the world from one's child's perspective. The next is to adjust one's pace to fall in step with one's child, and together with empathy, love and understanding, to develop hand in hand, ensuring all new learning experiences together, are perceptible, accessible, and through happiness and fun, made memorable.
This is the type of deep fertile soil within which all children can thrive, and at their own pace progress themselves into faster lanes. Children with CVI are no exception.
As in many walks of life, top down instructive approaches are less likely to be as effective as bottom up supportive ones.
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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.