A mother we know recently told us that as the evenings became darker, she noticed her son Daniel, who is unable to speak, would stand at the window looking very sad. She figured out that her son was sad because he didn't understand where everything had gone. The world outside the window had disappeared and had been replaced with a sheet of black.
Separately, in Gordon Dutton's blog 17 we heard about Jeremy, who, thanks to de-cluttering and making his house more accessible, found a whole new room. Imagine that, living in the same house for years, then one day coming across a door you had never seen before, and behind it lies a world of wonder you never knew existed. Imagine also, finding one day that half of your world had just disappeared. This is the world for many children with CVI, things disappear and appear. It can be wonderful and fun, but also confusing, depressing and even frightening.
Daniel's mother cleverly started taking Daniel out in the car (where he felt safe and secure) at night with the headlights on. As evening became darkness, the lights showed Daniel that the trees and bushes had not disappeared but were still there. To figure this out, and come up with a plan for how to not only make Daniel happy again, but to help him understand the effects of varying degrees of light, Daniel's mother needed to understand how Daniel learns.
In our new section simply called Access, we have tried to explain the basics of how our brains learn. Not teaching models but the actual nuts and bolts stuff about how we get what we call knowledge into our brains. The process is so simple to understand, yet seems not to be applied at times. Do read the short introductory section and following the sub-sections with many examples of how, when this simple formula to learning is applied, children learn!
So far it hasn't failed us!
Gordon Dutton's Blogs 14, 15 and 16 together complement these sections, firstly how to create the conditions for learning (14), then the approach to learning, using attainable small steps (15), and finally, considering our attitude to learning and learning disabilities (16).Maybe if Nicola McDowell's friends and teachers had understood these principles her time at school with CVI, would not have been so difficult, eroding her self-esteem, as she shares in her moving blogs 12 and 13.
This is the approach we've started to apply in our initial development of our free reading tool called Look, and is why we suggest trying the approach of reading using whole word recognition.
Having CVI does not specifically make one learning disabled, it just means that we need to think harder about how we can make learning ongoing throughout the day by making everything accessible for as much time as possible (as it is for typical children), to enable development in all areas including social relationships and independence.
As Gordon Dutton suggested (blog 16), maybe it is time to think less in terms of learning disability, and focus on what we need to do to help people with CVI become learning enabled - like Amelia who now loves her stories, and Katherine who can now read and Connor who can now ride a horse.
From the CVI Scotland Team
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