The Tadpole Kit is a Swimming Success for Children with CVI Part 1

by Kristie Smith, M.Ed, CTVI

"Theories fade. The frog lives on."- Jean Rostand

A few months ago I wrote a blog about an incredible assessment and activity kit that I use frequently, "The TOAD Kit". I discussed wearing my black apron from the kit, using Billy Bird and my bright yellow pompom to entice my students with Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) to visually attend to their world.

Imagine my excitement when I was chosen to give my thoughts on a version of the TOAD Kit that is designed for little ones. The TADPOLE Kit is especially designed for infants/toddlers who struggle with CVI and other vision issues.

What is really cool is that on page 10 there is a General Preparation page that teaches: support and alignment of the child's body, especially the head, appropriate lighting, limitation of distraction, simplifying the child's environment and adjusting the student, so that he is physically ready and relaxed to explore and and understand his surroundings.

Teachers will also enjoy definitions for TADPOLE Skills and a TADPOLE Tool Chart such as the word "fixate"- The ability of the eyes to directly gaze on an object and hold the gaze so the object remains in view. As I quickly read down the list of definitions, I, too, felt more knowledgeable before I begin testing and doing fun activities with my little ones who have CVI.

Great Materials- I am a shopper for by anyone's standards, so imagine my excitement when I opened up the black (easy-to-carry) case that spells out INNOVATION in white print and in Braille with a clear label and order number marked on the outside of the bag. Open up the bag and out come the amazing items that are not only good for testing but for activities that will help a younger student with CVI ready for pre-school goals. Some of the helpful and durable materials from both the TOAD and TADPOLE Kits are: the TOAD Mirror, Billy Bird Puppet, TOAD spoon, a blue cup, toothbrush, a bright yellow mylar pompom, a tangle toy, Bowl and Ball which include bright yellow bowls and happy blue and yellow balls with a red apple - great for teaching object permanence, a blue slinky, the already cool Swirly Mats, numerous Match 'n Sort Cards, Tasha TADPOLE Puzzle Book, TADPOLE cards, and a wonderful TADPOLE Report for children (child information, activity, tools used, distance environment, skill and result. I dare not forget to mention TADPOLE Tools and Activities for Development of Visual Skills with 0-2 Year-Level Learners.

When I opened my black bag and took out real concrete objects from the kit (adding my own banana and apple) it was amazing how much vision or lack of that my student was using or not using. The large and high contrast pictures demonstrate where the child is looking and how much of the picture he or she is actually seeing. When I placed the real spoon up against the really large picture spoon with the red backdrop, my student smiled letting me know that he was making the connection from concrete to the abstract.

One of the best Early Childhood Case Workers saw my kit and began to beg (literally) for a kit to use with my students while she was working on different skills. I smiled and told her that I would allow her to use my TOAD Kit and when the TADPOLE comes out then she may borrow that one as well, but, I teased and meant it, "These are my kits and I am going to write my name and "VISION" in bold black letters, so that it comes back to me." Michelle smiled and eyed the case. "Michelle, do not dare walk off with my black apron or someone is going to get hurt."

We chuckled and walked out of the Daycare when she looked back over at me and said, "I still want my own kit, so you see what you can do."

Watch for the next Fred's Head blog post on this amazing tool where I will list many fun activities that will encourage a child with CVI to understand and love his surroundings because he knows there is so much more that he can see and be in this world.

Henry David Thoreau- "There's a part of every living thing that wants to become itself: the tadpole into the frog and the chrysalis into the butterfly."

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