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Gordon Dutton’s Blog 23

Still keeping it slow and simple

I have two handicaps. I'm over 60 and I'm male!

This means I can only do, or think about one thing at a time!

I can no longer hear what is said when it is spoken quickly. When I'm working on the computer I can't hear what anyone is saying. When I'm day dreaming I may not notice an aeroplane fly past. When I'm chatting in a restaurant I don't notice people leaving from the next table

By the way, I 'know' I'm 'normal' (for my age).

Yet I clearly have a learning disability, in the context of what is normal for younger people.

Maybe you too can identify with some of these experiences?

So what about the child whose normal is to have severe 'learning disabilities'?

How does this child experience their normal world?

What is limiting their learning?

Maybe they are like me, or should I say us, but more so?


We can only learn from what we can see, what we can hear, and what we can understand.

We need to get inside the mind of the child with learning disabilities and think about the child's ideas of time and space, and the child's prior knowledge, if we are to help them learn.

How fast do sounds or sights need to be before they are not there for the child?

How many sounds, things, thoughts and daydreams can the child process at once?

If the answers are that...

  • Only words that are uttered slowly - are heard, and things that move slowly - can be seen
  • Only one thing at a time - can be focussed on
  • Only things that can be understood - can be learned from

...then, perhaps, this can be thought of as a 'Single attention syndrome'.


If we can get to understand these ideas and act on them, then for the affected child learning becomes much more likely, because we have adapted to their normal, rather than trying to inflict ours.


I've seen many families, who have adapted to their child's normal speed of processing, and their normal 'singularity', by moment to moment matched enhancement of what they know their child has appreciated. Through patience and love they have seen significant progress in their child's learning, despite their child's label, because their child's normal has been adapted to and matched.

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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.