My three-year-old student with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) has difficulty finding items unless they have solid, contrasting backgrounds. I have been using the CVI Complexity Sequences Kit with him, written by Christine Roman and published by the American Foundation for the Blind. This kit contains a series of cards with pictures of objects that have increasing amounts of information in their backgrounds.
I chose the duck series, because one of my student’s favorite songs is “Five Little Ducks.” But even after six lessons, my student pointed to the ducks on the first four pictures, but then couldn’t find them on pictures #5-#8, with their increasingly complex backgrounds.
What to do? I had recently watched the movie, “Pleasantville,” and was reminded of the strong visual cue of color. (In this movie, everything is black and white except the characters who break the mold.) With a color-coding strategy in mind, I ran all the CVI Complexity Series (ducks) through a duplicating machine so that they were all black and white. Then I hand-colored only the ducks: yellow with orange beaks. I laminated the pictures because my student drools, and I know that he tolerates glare. But he still couldn’t get past picture #4.
Maybe he needed to work with three-dimensional targets, rather than two dimensions? APH Product Information specifies that the kit is designed for “students with CVI who have had success with 2-dimensional materials.”
Given this, I spread five little plastic ducks on a tray, and my student easily picked them up. Then I added five different toys and asked him to pick up only the ducks. But he seemed to randomly pick up all the items, including the ducks.
Next, I spread out the five plastic ducks and added five yellow shapes, asking him to pick up only ducks. Again he seemed to randomly pick up all the items, including the ducks.
Yesterday, I spread out the 5 plastic ducks and added 5 purple shapes and asked him to pick up only ducks. At last, he had success!
“Test down and teach up.” Now that I’ve tested down through easier and easier tasks until my student successfully reached a baseline, I’ll “teach up” to three dimensional ducks with yellow shapes, then three dimensional ducks with other toys, then the “Pleasantville” cards, and finally the CVI Complexity Series duck cards as published. Hopefully my student will have more success when I present other cards in the series (balls, spoons, etc.) If not, then I’ll continue to test down and teach up. It’s what we do.