Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

APH’s TOAD KIT and The Blue Light Special

by Kristie Smith, M.Ed, CTVI

“If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.” Paul Gaugin (French Post-Impressionist Painter)

OK K-Mart shoppers, APH offers the best, and I mean the best blue light special for children who have cortical vision impairment (CVI).

The little blue light comes in the TOAD Kit from APH, and like the big black blanket, its benefits are quietly tucked away in the bottom of the brilliant TOAD Kit.

Take the black blanket, add a 9 volt battery to the unpretentious wired object, a piece of black cloth and “poof” you have a book full of activities using only two items that encourages all fields of vision as well as creating many lessons that enhance visual/brain understanding.

The black blanket and the blue light may also encourage movement for the child with CVI. In children with CVI the brain responds to movement as well as the color blue. Did you know that the color blue sends out eleven neurotransmitters that encourage the brain to relax and take in more information? A student will crawl, roll and walk with encouragement while the brain tracks the movement and brilliant blue light from the TOAD Kit.

Why do we as educators and parents unintentionally make daily living more difficult for our child’s vision by not eliminating visual clutter and distractions or by forcing movement that is not motivating or fun? Simply place the black blanket approximately 3-4 feet away from the child and make the blue light dance to the music.

The other day my young student with CVI began to follow the blue light and used all fields of vision for the first time since she lost her vision through Shaken Baby Syndrome. She moved to the music and began to dance while watching the light over and over again. If the music is too much to process, then simply create a soft quiet environment using only the blue light and black blanket.

Another fun activity with the little blue light is to reinforce positional words: up, down, left, right while the child is watching the light. I tease the student and sing, “up, down, shake it all around” and continue with the words from The Hokey Pokey.

Some of the ideas have helped my students, the past several years, to view and understand objects and their concepts better, is to add the little blue light that will enhance visual activity.

Movement encourages the troubled brain to see objects especially when glare and visual clutter are eliminated. My own preference is to begin with the strongest field of vision and gradually work to the weaker field, therefore, making the strong side stronger, and the weaker side improved.

Make every lesson fun and motivating. Find finger plays and music that appeal to the student and flood them with their favorite items during visual play.

The vision specialist is obviously there to first work the eyes, so place the child in a comfortable position, so that they are only exerting visual activity. Watch for glare and room temperature.

Other Fun Ideas for the little blue light:

  1. Sing the “Color Song” from Frog Street Press. “B. L. U. E. spells blue. B.L.U.E. spells blue, heigh ho did you know, B.L.U.E. spells blue.

  2. Finger plays develop the brain, speech, pre-reading and pre-writing. Take time out of each lesson to sing and remember to use blue colored lipstick and a mirror to reflect the color blue.

  3. Use large print color pictures of the ocean and discuss the color blue.

  4. Share a plate of blueberries and spell the color blue.

  5. Listen to the sound of the ocean.

  6. Use the All-In-One Board to scribble and select the color blue.

  7. Melt a pan of blue crayons and add a blueberry scent.

  8. Add blue food coloring to Vanilla pudding.

  9. “Autism Speaks” – It’s time to listen! With children ages 5-10 discuss how a child with autism struggles with intense sound, smells and sights.

Simplify your lessons and watch all the goals that you will create by using two simple items from the amazing TOAD Kit- “the little blue light and black piece of material and like the poem suggest, “If you see a tree as blue, make it blue”. Allow the child to color or paint beautiful pictures using all shades of blue.

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