By Andrew Hickey on Sep 30, 2022 @ 10:10 AM
- CVI looks different in each child
- It makes it difficult for children to eat, play, and learn
- You can adapt a rental home: cover sharp corners and electrical outlets, secure all furniture and rugs, store fragile items away
- You can adapt a permanent home: avoid dangerous stairs and overhangs, make sure to have a fenced-in yard, nail down or secure furniture
Receiving the diagnosis that your child has a cerebral visual impairment (CVI) comes with a lot of emotions and questions. As a parent or guardian your top priority is to help your child be safe and keep them as healthy as possible. Here are some ways to make your home safe for your child with a CVI.
What is a CVI?
A CVI is a cerebral visual impairment, sometimes referred to as a cortical visual impairment. It’s caused by an injury before, during, or after birth. The injury can be a lack of oxygen or blood, infection, or fluid build-up in the brain. It can also be caused by head injury or certain genetic conditions.
What Issues Come With a CVI?
While it is the most common cause of visual impairment in the United States, a CVI looks different in each person, as symptoms can come in several ways. Generally, children with a CVI tend to have issues responding to and recognizing what they see, including busyness, faces, and cluttered areas.
As a parent, guardian, or family member of a child with a CVI, you may notice that they have a challenging time reaching for something right in front of them. Your child could be looking directly at (or avoiding) bright lights or use their peripheral vision as their main way of seeing.
Children with a CVI may have other disabilities, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, developmental issues, and hearing loss.
What Issues Affect Home Life?
It may be difficult or even impossible for the child to be able to focus their eyes on what is in front of them. This can make it hard for children with a CVI to eat, play, and learn at an early age. Normal objects around the home can be a lot more dangerous, such as stairs and doors. Even having your home organized in a certain way can cause accessibility issues for your child growing up with a CVI.
How to Adapt Your Home Temporarily?
If you are renting, there are only so many changes you can make to your home while ensuring you get your security deposit back. Some temporary ways you can make your home more accommodating can include:
- Covering sharp corners
- Ensuring all furniture and rugs are secure and stable
- Covering electrical outlets and taping down electrical cords
- Organizing your home by storing items that are used together in the same place
- Putting labels on drawers, which helps literacy
- Storing fragile items away and avoiding clutter
These slight changes can make a world of difference for your child with a CVI. Even family members who wish to have their young loved one visit can make these changes to help the safety of the child.
The biggest issue with a CVI is that children are more likely to trip or fall over household items due to their inability to see clearly. That is why covering corners and securing other hazards is so important. Doors should be kept closed, or with an item propping the door open, as people with a CVI are prone to having their fingers pinched in doors. While these temporary changes are vital, some more long-term changes may be needed depending on the severity of your child’s a CVI.
How to Adapt Your Home Permanently?
It can be hard finding out your child has a CVI, knowing the effects of the condition are permanent. That is why you may decide on more permanent changes for your family.
Stairs can be a huge danger for people with a CVI, as they do not have the hand-eye coordination to use the steps and grasp the handrail. This can be an issue for those in apartment complexes. If you own your home, you can ensure it does not have any dangerous stairs or overhangs. Having a fenced-in yard for your child’s safety is also ideal.
If you purchase your home with a 30-year fixed mortgage, you will be prepared with a safe home for the entirety of your child’s development. This will help them memorize the space and be safer in it. The fixed rate may come to help you financially if your child has any other health conditions, as you may find yourself with high healthcare costs. Knowing your mortgage payment is the same every month while the rest of your expenses change will be a comfort and help relieve stress.
In general, owning a home allows you to make permanent changes to your house that renting does not. You can nail down or secure furniture in other permanent ways, install carpets to avoid the trip hazard of rugs, and permanently secure electric wires. If there are any overhangs or sharp corners, you can make the renovations to remove them. As a parent or guardian, you know what is best for your child, and what they need to thrive in a home, whether that calls for temporary or permanent accessibility changes.
While a CVI affects your vision, it is caused by your brain’s inability to process what it is seeing, not due to poor eyesight. Therefore, a CVI is different in everyone, and your child may have unique needs that differ from another person with a CVI. Eye health is still important! Taking care of your vision, no matter your age or ability, is a lifelong commitment. Having a vision benefits plan will help keep you and your family healthy. So look to see if Solstice has a plan for you.