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Gordon Dutton’s Blog 21

Calm consistent quietude in place of chaotic complexity

With understanding and a little support, it is possible to help the person with profound CVI who can see only a limited amount and 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 child's pace, include...

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

Picture the child who can only see a little at a time, and who is easily overwhelmed if there are a lot of people around or if the surroundings are cluttered or highly patterned. Yet when out in open countryside, or on a quiet deserted beach the child becomes much more attentive and looks around.

The child may be drawn to lights and be unable to look away.

This is the child who may become enlivened in a plain coloured tent with nothing else to see or listen to.

Time spent in this environment becomes relaxing and calming. There are no crowds and no clutter. There is nothing to loom into view.

This is when a single experience can be labelled with a single salient word, and the process repeated on a number of occasions.

In our experience the meaning of the word is learned and in this way vocabulary and understanding can be built up.

Everyone can learn.

But all of us can only learn from what is accessible.

If one is lost within the complexity of the scenery, the soundscape, and the speed of events, then communicating through a single channel at the pace of the child can be extremely rewarding.

The people who know the individual best, including the parents, close family and carers, have the greatest understanding and opportunities to do this.

Create your own tent in your own house. This is a pop-up tent, inexpensive and easily available through on-line retailers, with a matching blanket.


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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.