Social Participation for Children with Cerebral Visual Impairment
Children with cerebral visual impairment (also known as cortical visual impairment, or CVI) may want to participate fully in social environments and have friends, but they may not know how to accomplish this feat. Families and professionals need to recognize these desires and teach students specific ways to accomplish these social goals.
Here are some possible social solutions for students:
- Collaborate throughout the school so that all staff are aware of students with CVI and their needs. This includes classroom staff, school counselors, guidance counselors, psychologists, secretaries, maintenance workers, bus drivers, etc.
- Form clubs where special education personnel, students without disabilities, and special needs students work together on projects of community importance. Many communities have been able to raise and use funds, including federal stimulus money, to support such programs. In some communities where such collaboration has occurred, there has been a culture shift at the school.
- Ask the school psychologist to begin a social skills club where a small group of students with varying social difficulties can learn to interact in a socially acceptable manner. These exchanges, offered within a safe environment, will allow students to think about potential courses of action and try them out in a safe environment before using them in a more general setting.
- Consider “reverse role-playing,” in which a student and adult assume the role of the other to increase awareness of how others may feel.
- It may be beneficial for the student with CVI to have a “big brother” or “big sister” or to be one to a younger child (with adult supervision). This helps to increase a student’s feeling of self-confidence and level of accomplishment.
For more solutions to social issues for students with CVI, read Chapter 23 of Vision and the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children, edited by Amanda Hall Lueck and Gordon N. Dutton. This book is available in the AFB Store at aphcareerconnect.org/store or at major online retailer websites.