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Toys for Children with CVI (Cortical Visual Impairment)

January 26, 2020

Finding a Christmas or birthday gift for a child with CVI is a tough task! Kids with CVI have trouble processing vision, and depending on their range score, may have little to no functional vision at all. Those who do often need brightly coloured items that aren’t too visually complex (i.e. not too multicolour) to be able to focus on and see them.

However, over the past 20 months with Jaxon, I have found several items that he not only likes and responds to, but that have also actually helped his vision improve. Definitely a win-win. I’m sharing these ideas in case they could be helpful for your child, or if you’re buying a gift for someone’s child you know with CVI. If you have any good finds not mentioned here, also leave them in the comments!

BeatBo

This was one of the first toys Jaxon responded too, first because of the sound of course. He loved the music and even now, the songs calm him down and he loves BeatBo’s voice. The light was useful for getting his attention in the early days too. It’s also nice because this toy is really mainstream, so you can find it at nearly any toy store (in North America at least) or on Amazon, etc.

There is a small BeatBo, pictured here, and a large one!

This Bright Yellow Lovey

I got this lovey for Jaxon just a few months ago from MilkKloud, a company I found on Amazon. Since then, I’ve connected with the owner, Anna, on Instagram and she is so lovely! I love supporting small business so this is a big win in my books. Red and yellow are often the first colours kids with CVI start to see and focus on so it’s really important to have items in these colours around often to keep them looking and working on that vision. Single-colour items are best to avoid too much confusion. I think loveys are also a good fit because of the texture – they’re comforting to feel and touch too, even if a child can’t see it at all. The yellow of this one is nice and bright (think mustardy!) and Jaxon sees it well, and it’s easy to wash and bring along in the stroller for vision therapy on the go (with a carabiner clip to the stroller strap).

Red Shiny Paper/Ribbon

Christmas means tons of wrapping paper so save some for your little one with CVI or wrap their present in red! A great “first” vision therapy item is shiny red paper, like a gift bag or ribbons and bows. The light reflects off it, drawing attention, and the bright red colour is easily seen with CVI (or, seen first before other colours, in most cases). A cheap and effective way to get some vision therapy in.

Light Up Rattle

I love this rattle from Nogginstik. It may seem a bit overpriced for what it is (I thought so), but its design is quite good. It makes a shaking sound, great for teaching cause and effect for visually impaired children, and it has a black and white bottom piece with a mirror on the end (great for reflecting light and drawing eyes to it). But the best part is the top “face” – with each touch, it alternates colours from blue, green, red and white. The light glows and Jaxon was able to see it right away. It also helped him learn to hold objects in his hand and then look at it, helping with hand discovery also. A great investment in the earlier days.

Vtech Activity Cube

Jaxon looooves this toy. He was able to see the red side of the cube first, and it has 4 light up buttons on it. He is able to press them and watch the lights (it also plays music when the buttons are pushed). The other sides are more visually confusing (multiple colours, small pieces, levers etc) but he still enjoys playing with it by pushing it around the floor and just generally kicking like crazy to the songs and touching all the sides, even if he isn’t looking at them. Just a good general toy, and it’s cheap and widely available at most stores, too.

Anything Elmo

Elmo is the perfect CVI toy because he’s bright red, visually simple and has big facial feature to focus on (black and white eyes). Pretty much anything Elmo is great for working on vision – stuffies, music toys, light up Elmos, etc.

This Light Pad

Technically not a toy, but cool and useful nonetheless! This light up tablet is only $20 on Amazon and has 3 different light settings. It is powered by USB, so I actually bought this portable USB power bank to power the tablet so that I didn’t have to have it plugged into an outlet to use it. Sometimes I amaze myself with my intelligence… lol. Anyway, I bought this clear inkjet paper too, printed out fairly simple shapes/objects on it (think a lot of line art type stuff), and voila! You stick it to the tablet (tape and/or a clip), and the lighting illuminates the object. This is easy for children with CVI to see, gets their attention and most importantly, helps them keep FOCUS on the object. The goal is to get them looking at the object for longer instead of “glancing and looking away” quickly.

Lots of household objects can work well for CVI therapy too! Think anything that’s bright coloured, red or yellow preferably, and a simple shape (not too visually confusing). Examples could be a red Solo cup, a yellow mixing bowl, a bright red soup ladle… honestly there are items everywhere that can help work on vision. But, if you’re looking for a gift, I probably don’t recommend wrapping up an item from your kitchen. 😉


What have been the most successful toys you’ve purchased for working on CVI / vision therapy skills? Share below in the comments to make this list even better!

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