Now imagine a small child learning he/she has desires. That other people are able to make sounds and get those desires met. But he/she doesn’t know how to do that…Presto frustrated toddler becomes a terrible two year old…or three.
Now let’s add another layer. This little person doesn’t have great dexterity in his fingers so sign language is tough. His vision is not 100%. In fact may not be 75%. It is hard to know what he can make sense of. You are told he cannot make sense of picture symbols, and may need 3D objects. How do you help him? It is a little, no, a lot daunting.
This is ‘Buddy’. He went from being always happy to whining. Not horribly, but I don’t want it to get to horribly. There is already too much stress in our lives for that. Being able to go to a seminar with Dr. Christine Roman this summer was perfect timing. One of the things she touched on was literacy with Cortical Vision Impairment. I finally had a starting point.
‘Buddy’ tested at 5 to 7 on the CVI Range. One being profoundly affected, and 10 being resolved. Two years ago, he would have tested significantly lower. This is the wonderful thing about CVI, with intervention it can improve. You can actually help them! With a low score of 5 ‘Buddy’ should probably have started with 3D, but I went 2D for two reasons. He was right on the cusp between the two and I had seen him have some success with photos. So, fresh from class I went to work making communication cards for home and school, and they are working great!
Here is how we use them. When ‘Buddy’ shows frustration, or when it is time to pick and activity ‘Buddy’ is offered two cards, say Milk and Water. We ask if he wants milk and indicate the Milk card, then repeat with the water. After he picks we swap the order and ask again. If he picks the same card he is given the object. Sometimes it is subtle, but often it is very clear and there is a huge smile at being heard. In fact he has done so well with 2 cards, this week we are moving to 3 to give him more options.
As for the cards themselves, this is how I make them:
Comic Sans 48 Bold
- Solid Fill
* Transparency: 0%
-Glow & Soft Edges:
-Color: Bright Yellow
- Size: 10 pt
- Transparency: 0%
(You may need to adjust this for your child, but this is a good starting point.)
Assembly: Using a large paper cutter I made a huge stack of blank black poster board cards. Then I used a glue stick to paste the image and the word onto the front of the card. On the back I pasted 2-3 salient features to describe each object. For example: Elephant – Big Ears, long thin trunk. That way we are all using similar feature while we teach ‘Buddy’ what makes an Elephant and Elephant.
Lamination: Lamination is not recommended. It can cause a glare that obstructs the child’s ability to make sense of the object. The glare becomes another feature in the object. Unfortunately, ‘Buddy’ is a mouther. Everything goes in his mouth. Lamination was needed. I asked Dr. Roman about using matte laminate and she said not to. That is dulls the image too much. She said if lamination cannot be avoided that regular laminate was best and to be aware of the glare when using the cards…and to stop laminating as soon as possible.