Visual Sensory System
- Difficulties with vision may result from a problem with the eyes themselves or a problem with the way the brain processes information.
- Many things contribute to someone having a problem with their vision.
- Common things like the physical structure of the eye that can causes nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
- Imbalance in the muscles of the eyes
- Most of the time these conditions are correctable with glasses and/or contact lenses.
- There can be issues with the individual parts of the eye many of which are not correctable but need to be compensated for
- The nerves that receive the information from the eye to the correct part of the brain can be damaged.
- The brain its self might not be developed properly and not interpret the information it is receiving from the perfectly functioning eyes properly.
- One condition resulting from this is called Cortical Visual Impairment, CVI. This causes the young child to appear to be blind. Some children develop the ability to “see’ on their own, but most will need extensive visual therapy to develop a functional vision.
- All of our senses work together to give us the skills and understanding we have about our environment.
Common signs of visual problems that may be present in any child or adult
- Holding the paper or object unusually close
- Holding the paper or object unusual far away
- Head tilt – any direction
- Frequently tripping over objects other’s see
- Redness of the eyes
- Slowness in reading
- Move them to the front of the room
- Give them a paper copy for their desk to copy from
- Use caution when walking, have a clear path
- Use an obvious contrast on unleveled surfaces inside or on a sidewalk to compensate for depth perception issues
- A child with low vision:
- Does not respond to important visual cues such as facial expressions.
- Touches everything to learn about it because the vision is not sufficiently coordinated.
- Shows lack of interest in typical books and toys or may not use them appropriately.
- May have trouble learning because of inability to focus on materials.
A common yet easily over looked visual problem in children:
- A child’s ability to pick an object out of a picture. We say the picture is visually complex.
- Children with this challenge may become anxious or inattentive if there is too much visual stimulation in the room whether it is objects or people.
- Movement in the room also distracts them.
- Getting lost on the page
- What do you see?
- Keep room decorations and learning materials visually simple.
- Highlight desired object of child’s attention with flashlight or contrasting background.
- Avoid strobing effects of lights.
- Dim the lights when appropriate, but be aware that many children need extra light.
- Outline the primary object with a bold dark outline that makes it easier to see.
- Use other senses along with vision such as drawing letters in the sand, tactual, or listening to a story on tape, auditory, while looking at a book, visual.
- Create materials with contrasting colors
- Match description with experience, tell them what is happening
- Use real items or objects for new concepts
- Use texture to encourage learning through the sense of touch.
- Employ other senses in combination with vision:
- draw letters in sand with finger
- listen to a story while looking at the book
- Have the child reproduce a design you have made with blocks, pegs in pegboard, or colored paper shapes.
- You can also use a pen light to help direct vision.