Updated: Jan 22
What a gift it is to me to share with you 7 ways to improve your child’s visual perception, not their eyesight per se. Our world, that most call special needs, is often misunderstood by many; even those that are in place to serve us and our loved ones. I believe our world can only be understood if you live in it. Not visiting for 90 minutes or vacationing here but living multiple 24 hour spans you know? I’m talking about getting dirty. Suctioning trachs, troubleshooting g tubes, and appointments galore! I’m no medical doctor, but I have sat in good company with many; mainly to discuss my youngest son’s special needs. He has been diagnosed with Cortical Visual Impairment, or CVI, along with many other medical complexities. He’s also a tubie and trach baby. I have been told a number of times that my son cannot perceive what he is seeing. Respectfully, many doctors and I have disagreed on numerous occasions about my son’s abilities. I want to talk to you about visual perception and how it is different from the ability to receive an image with your physical eyes.
I am CONVINCED that my son, Raphael, can see AND comprehend what he is seeing! So I did a THING about it! I wrote a book called Color My World! I did this especially for his wellness and therapy homework! Sweet Boy has shown he has some comprehension of his vision by tracking moving objects, blinking, and focusing locally on objects. "On paper" he is perceived as cortically blind, meaning his physical eyes work but the optic nerve has been damaged causing there to be ummm...like a road block to his brain's cortex. The cortex of the brain is the visual epicenter!
The human eye is designed to take in light. Photoreceptors, which are cells, transform that light to electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve and further to different parts of the brain. The brain takes the electrical signals and transforms them into images that we see. May I submit to you that you and I do not actually see with our eyes. We see with our brains! Our eyes are simply light receptors when they are operating in their divine design.
Am I making sense? Ok. Stay with me.
So because I am CONVINCED Raphael can see, it is my honor to teach him how to color the world around him from a progressive understanding of visual perception. In my book Color My World, the aim is to teach the primary colors through high contrast images. Images on black backgrounds with the hope that red, yellow, and blue float to the foreground of ones visual perception. You may have seen these types of books in the baby book section of your local shopping centers. The purpose of these books are to stimulate the cortex of a baby's brain where images are crafted. Science says that babies see best in the colors black, white, and red.
Enough of the science! Let’s get to the reason you clicked on to this blog. THE LIST! I love a good list honey! I exercise this list daily, so much so that it has become as 2nd nature as changing a trach! LOL I know that’s not everyone’s norm but you know the hard things you do that would cringe out the average person right? Fill in the blank with that thing and you’ll get my drift!
7 Ways to Improve your Child’s Visual Perception
High Contrast Images
My very first assignment as a parent in my son’s Early Intervention session was to create a high contrast image. My son used to experience nystagmus of the eyes to the point that his pupils would drop below the sockets of his eyes. We would only see the whites of his eyes. Anyhow, I remember cutting out a red dot from construction paper and pasting it to a piece of black horizontal construction paper. I taped it to his crib and for months he would stare at that red dot until he fell asleep. What I later noticed was that I could see his pupils, and from time to time he would blink. His eyes use to run and fill with mucous with no sign of illness. That too was gone. I have also made it a priority to read Color My World to him often as it is filled with high contrast images.
Raphael is able to use his sense of touch to understand textures.
He utilizes his hands and feet to experience cotton balls, a balloon filled with rice, and dry cheerios blended to resemble sand just to name a few.
He has this voice recorder button that allows him to feel the vibration of the greeting “hello” as well as other phrases. This not only works his ability to understand what he hears but it also allows him to use his sense of touch to feel the words around him.
I have used the vacuum, and his suction machine as forms of “white noise” to help with his sense of hearing as well as to identify the functionality of an object. Typically when we hear sounds it induces a memory of what the object looks like and it’s functionality based off a sound we’ve heard in the past. For example every time the suction machine is turned on Raphael tries to open his mouth to help me suction it. He can “see” what is coming!
This is a more unique exercise where I sit Raphael in a certain part of the home and stand on either side of him so that he can trace his peripheral spacing. He is now able to change the direction he chooses to focus on based on where myself, other family members, and caregivers/therapists are located.
I literally talk to my son about anything that comes to mind at the time. I address him as much as I can remember as Raphael, but he’s so precious that I throw in several mushy gushy goo goo gah gah baby nicknames. He knows them all! LOL
Raphael loves to color with markers. I give him 2 choices of color and with his eyes he picks the marker he wants to color with! When choosing what book he wants to read, I give him 2 options. It can be quite overwhelming for me if I give him 3 or more options because I won’t necessarily know which direction he is gazing. Raphael tends to zone out if I give him more than 2 options; I think It’s overwhelming for him too.
Each of these daily exercises have enhanced my son’s visual perception to where he is communicating with me more. As a parent of someone with CVI I’ve grown to understand the importance of innovative forms of education for him. A great example is the 3 basic learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. It would be unwise to give a visual learner instructions to build a volcano from an audiobook. The way someone with CVI learns to “see” is progressive and requires an individualized plan. They have to be studied closely and a curriculum must be crafted by the data collected on the individual. Your child may not be able to “see” but they sure can learn to!
If you’d like a FREE ebook copy of Color My World; email me! firstname.lastname@example.org