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A Little Breakthrough with this TVI’s Student Who has Complex Needs Including CVI

Discover how this teacher takes the time to get to know the individuality of each student she works with so she can set them up for success.

shiny fabric on a bar

I wanted to share a “breakthrough” I have had this year with a student who has CVI with complex needs by integrating APH equipment and CVI appropriate materials. This student has Holt-Oram syndrome so they are unable to activate switches or touch answer choices by hand. They are non verbal with utterances of only laughter or babble sounds. They function at the definition of blindness. (Read more about CVI)

I actually began working with the student on how to communicate wants/needs through reading their body language and noticed a change in posture, head dropping, facial expressions, etc. and began trialing switches mounted on either side of their headrest which led to cause/effect activation of CVI apps. I began feverishly data tracking everything from what was used to elicit visual attention to localizing to novel sounds. I learned what songs made them happy and what textures made them not so happy.


I found a super light, cheap, and collapsible travel bar on Amazon, draped metallic streamers all along the top, plugged the APH fan large APH yellow light box into the APH power select latch timer, set up direct wired switches on either side of their headrest and directly into the power select.

Shiny fabric hanging
Collapsible bar


I sat back and waited for their head to strike the switch by tapping on the left (where I had the fan set up) and giving a verbal prompt, and tapping on the right (for the light box) and giving a verbal prompt. As soon as their head struck the fan it would blow the metallic streamers that not only they could feel, but they could hear. You could see the searching nystagmus kick in, the curious chin lift up, and the smile creep across their face. As they turned their head it activated the light box which illuminated the metallic streamers all across the bar that the fan was still blowing. They knew something was there. That’s when I got a good sense of how to use cause/effect of switches to help them communicate and they got their first 10 second fixation! Below is a video snippet where you can see streamers blowing and the light box peeking from behind.

Ten seconds doesn’t sound like a lot, but in my world it is my end all be all!

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