Strategy To See

During the past 20 years, visual impairment, due to various brain disorders, has become the most common cause of visual impairment in Western countries. This change has been attributed to improved medical care, which has allowed sick infants and children with severe brain damage to survive in greater numbers. Diane Sheline has worked with children with visual impairment since 1980, and has watched as the numbers of children with Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment (C/CVI) steadily increase. As a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI), Diane found that there was a dearth of information regarding how best to work with these students and set about learning as much as possible from the research as well as from others involved the field, such as Dr. Christine Roman, Dr. James Jan, Dr. Craig Hoyt, Dr. Gordon Dutton, Dr. Good, Dr. Lea Hyvarinen, Tanny Anthony, and many others. Diane found that over the past 10 years, important breakthroughs in modern neuroscience have been taking place, especially with the discovery of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity has to do with the brain’s ability to change and adapt. A damaged brain can often reorganize itself so that when one part fails, another can often substitute. Since plasticity seems to be highest when children are young, it is particularly important to figure out what will encourage children to use looking behavior and use their vision consistently and efficiently, because then we encourage a positive influence on how the visual system develops and functions. Diane developed this web site, in hopes of helping parents, caretakers, teachers and all those involved with the care of children with brain damage related vision loss, to learn methods and techniques which encourage efficient use vision. For some children, this might mean just visually attending to targets; for others, it might mean using vision for some functional purpose. But in all cases, Diane hopes that by providing early intervention and using some of the techniques and strategies noted on this website, there might be lifelong chances in the way some students use their vision. The key is to start using these strategies early, so that through plasticity, the child with brain damage related vision loss might have a better chance at improved vision skills.