Children with complex needs


Cerebral visual impairment

Cerebral visual impairment may mean your child finds it difficult to process visual information. It may also be part of a condition which affects your child’s physical development, such as cerebral palsy, or part of a condition affecting their understanding or health.

Your child may look at things but not easily make sense of what they are seeing. You can help them by:

  • Observing them - they will use body language and expression to tell you what they like, dislike and see.
  • Playing with them to see when they use their vision best. For example, when they are happy and excited or lying quietly.
  • Making light dimmer or brighter, based on their preferences.
  • Giving them toys with lights, sounds or textures to see which they prefer. Many children with cerebral visual impairment process looking and touching separately, so they may look away while touching a toy.
  • Noticing if they see you best from a specific position, and supporting them to do so.
  • Making sure they are comfortable. This may mean letting them lie on the floor or seating them in a chair. A physiotherapist can advise you on special seating or beanbags to support them.

An occupational therapist can also provide assistance with seating positions and aids, such as switches they can press to activate toys. A speech and language therapist will be able to suggest ways to help your child communicate.


Taking things at your child’s pace

  • There’s no need to rush - allow them plenty of time
  • Watch carefully for cues they have had enough. They may turn away, close their eyes or even go to sleep


Published: December 2017 

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