Classroom Freebies

Susan Berkowitz's Free Communication Board for Kids with Cortical Vision Impairment

Did you know that June is Child Vision Awareness Month?  Vision is important for all students, of course, but it is especially important for students who are nonverbal or minimally verbal, and who need to use alternative modes of communication; such as pictures and/or text.

Vision, more than any other system, allows the individual to take in massive amounts of stimuli from the environment for the brain to act upon.  In the process, the individual gazes at things, does so in specific sequences, and focuses on specific details in order for the brain to make decisions about what to do.
Vision develops with maturation and neurological development.  Our ability to process visual stimuli and attach meaning to them - called “seeing” - involves not only a healthy vision system, but also healthy neurological system.  It is now recognized that when a child is born with a neurological disorder, it is likely that there will be a visual impairment.  
Development of the visual system, learning through interaction with the environment, is also impaired when a child has motor impairment.  Our eyes do not tell us what to do.  Our brain’s experiences do.  Without these experiences, or when the experiences are impaired in some way - as when a child has a motor or sensorimotor impairment - the brain cannot tell him how to act and react.
“The current leading cause of visual impairment among children is not a disease or condition of the eyes, but Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) - also known as cerebral visual impairment - in which visual dysfunction is caused by damage or injury to the brain.” (American Printing House)
CVI is a neurological visual disorder.  It results in unique visual responses to objects and people in the environment. 

A child with CVI may see a world full of colors and shapes with perfect acuity, but he may not have any idea what he is seeing.  The child may not make meaning from the visual images and may not know that the colors and shapes are a car, a hat, or his mother.
        Children with CVI often are drawn to bright red and yellow, so when we adapt visual materials or activities for them we use these colors (Evaluate each child individually for color preferences.)
       Download the communication board above onto your desktop and try it with your students. It contains 30 core words - the words we use most often and are most important for generating messages.
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