Little Bear Sees Helping children with cortical visual impairment (CVI) learn to see Sun, 20 Jul 2014 04:19:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is Black and White Best for Kids with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)? Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:50:50 +0000 Black & White for CVI?In a recent contest we held on Facebook, we asked our fans to answer the following question: What do children with cortical visual impairment see best?

Here are the results:

Contest Pie Chart


20% of our participants answered that black and white images are best. In fact, we very often come across the notion that using black and white books, toys and pictures is best for kids with cortical visual impairment (CVI). This is NOT true! It is a very common and troubling misconception as many parents are told by well-meaning doctors and therapists to use a lot of black and white with their children with CVI.

While some children with CVI may respond to black and white over time, it will always be MUCH easier for them to see color. Color, especially highly saturated color, is incredibly important for children with CVI because color vision is usually preserved. The parts of the brain that are used to look at color are located deep in the brain on both sides, making those areas harder to damage. Red and yellow are very often the first colors that a child with CVI will see, though we know many children who prefer bright orange, green, blue or other highly saturated colors. Remember that the goal in CVI interventions is to provide the child with many opportunities to use the vision that she has. Unlike physical therapy, for example, the idea is not to challenge the child beyond her current abilities, but to give her frequent chances to use her vision, which will then allow it to grow and expand on its own. For many children with CVI, black and white is simply too difficult.

Even though 21% of participants got the answer wrong, we are THRILLED that 79% got it right! Help us keep educating and spreading the word!

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Announcing our Third iPad Grant Recipient Fri, 27 Jun 2014 18:26:16 +0000 Little Bear Gives - iPad Grant

Our most recent iPad Grant for children with cortical visual impairment (CVI) took place in May of this year. We were thrilled to award the package to Allan and his family.

Allan received:
A 16GB iPad with Retina Display, a copy of our CVI-specific app: Tap-n-See Now, and a copy of our book about CVI: Little Bear Sees: How Children with Cortical Visual Impairment Can Learn to See.

From his mother:

Allan’s story began as a 23 week preemie. They began watching his eyes at two months for Retinopathy of Prematurity. We soon learned that he had the worst form (Rush Disease) and to save his vision he needed immediate surgery. Surgery went well and we believed we were out of the woods. By nine months old I had noticed he wasn’t really looking at us or reaching for anything so the eye doctor came to us with a diagnosis; cortical blindness. We were devastated, among all his disabilities we now had blindness. We didn’t do any research on it since he was finally being released from the hospital to go home.

The new chapter began when we got home. We were put in contact with Early Intervention services and they quickly brought in the ND School for the Blind. We then began services with them and started becoming educated on CVI. Hope had been restored to us that Allan could see. Through years of work, some of the issues of CVI are resolved or further along the road of resolving. Complexity of things is still a big issue as well as some harder to resolve characteristics of CVI. We continue to work with him and our hopes with this iPad is that it will open more doors visually and communicatively as well as improving his life overall.

Allan’s story is another example of a family who refused to believe a diagnosis of cortical blindness. They have seen great improvements! We hope this iPad package will help him continue to improve his vision.

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Aquariums: A fun birthday activity for kids with CVI! Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:10:31 +0000 lukas-aquariumLukas recently turned 4 (Happy Birthday!) and it seems we have a new birthday tradition for our Little Bear!

In a past article we discussed the appeal of aquariums to kids with cortical visual impairment (CVI). At the time, we were limited to the lovely, but small, Waikiki Aquarium as we were living in Honolulu.

Lukas at the aquariumNow that we’ve relocated to California, however, Lukas has discovered the wonder that is the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Their jellyfish tanks in particular are simply stunning and PERFECT for Lukas! The visual simplicity, movement, light and bright colors all lend themselves to creating the ideal environment for kids with CVI.

We’ve made the trek down there the last two years to celebrate his birthday and I suspect we will for many years to come. Nothing like seeing a smile on your child’s face as he actually looks at something!

We’d love to hear about some of your favorite aquariums.

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Announcing Our Third iPad Grant Cycle Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:03:17 +0000 It’s been a long time in the making, but Little Bear Gives is excited to announce that our third CVI iPad package grant will take place in April of this year!

The package includes:

* You must have an iTunes account in order to receive the app.

Read more about it on our Little Bear Gives page.

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The Myth of Cortical Blindness Wed, 09 Apr 2014 18:21:13 +0000 Over and over again, we hear stories about kids being diagnosed with cortical blindness. Unfortunately, parents don’t always know any different and, having been told their child is blind, they give up on finding ways to help improve vision! According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, “Cortical blindness is an older term for CVI. The term “blindness” can be misleading. Children with CVI usually have some level of vision that  may show some improvement over time.”

What we know now, is that the brain is plastic and, with proper intervention, we can help our children’s brains reorganize and learn to see! In our book, Little Bear Sees, Dr. Roman-Lantzy states, “The brain compensates for damage by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. But, in order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.” Children with CVI are NOT blind. With activities that build on the vision they do have, we can help their brains make new connections and help their vision improve! For some ideas on how to get started, check out our page: What To Do 

We are dedicated to making sure that children with CVI get the help they need. Help us out, spread the word, and let’s eliminate the term “cortical blindness”!

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Best Books for Kids with CVI Wed, 05 Mar 2014 18:39:35 +0000 Books can be difficult for kids with CVI. Two dimensional materials are always harder and they are often too visually busy. We’ve found some great ones that Little Bear loves, though! Here are some favorites that are visually simple and include highly saturated colors:

So Big! (Honestly, can you ever go wrong with Elmo?)


That’s Not My Dinosaur (This one is also great because it’s got texture!)


And a few suggestions from our Facebook friends:

I Like It When by Mary Murphy


The Miffy Series by Dick Bruna


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Little Bear’s Christmas List Fri, 20 Dec 2013 05:01:00 +0000 tickletubeWe’ve been having a great conversation over at our Facebook page about gift ideas for kids with CVI.  We know how tough it can be to find good gifts, but this year we’ve gotten some excellent ideas from all of you!  So, after much consideration, here is the final list of what we decided on for our little bear.  Come visit our page to see the other ideas we considered and to share your own!

1. Doodle Dome:

We’re very excited about this one as a great way to create an instant dark room for Lukas!  He loves being in the dark room at school, so we know he’ll enjoy looking at his iPad and lots of different light up toys in here too!  Thanks, Crystal, for the suggestion!

2. Musical Twister:

Lukas has always loved toys that are switch adapted and Enabling Devices makes many of his favorites!  This one looked like it could offer some excellent visual stimulation as well due to the movement and sparkly quality of the glitter.  Can’t wait to see him try it out!

3. Tickle Tube:

Grandma thought her little bear needed another toy he could occupy himself with when Mom and Dad are busy with his new little sister.  This looks like a great option for both visual stimulation with the light and tactile interest!

4. Sing & Play Activity Box:

At school, Lukas is working on making choices visually.  He loves songs and this box seemed like the perfect way to have a visual representation of different songs for him to choose from!  Each item is pretty visually simple and it wouldn’t be hard to find other simple items to add to it to represent more songs.  We also loved that this one was a relatively inexpensive gift for Lukas!

5. Punchy Poncho

Finally, even though this isn’t directly related to CVI, we are very excited about this item for Little Bear!  Many children with CVI also have cerebral palsy and many of these children are in wheelchairs.  Lukas gets cold easily and we often have a hard time keeping a blanket on him or getting him into a coat.  This is the perfect solution to our problem!  They are essentially wearable blankets which go over the head.  This makes them easy to put on and keep on.

These ponchos are made by another mom of a child with special needs trying to solve this same problem for her daughter.  She really works hard to make sure you get exactly what you need in a fabric you and your child will love!  We definitely recommend checking out her site!


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iPad App Released: My Talking Picture Board Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:13:02 +0000
Little Bear Sees and Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children proudly present their first collaborative app for those with cortical visual impairment (CVI). This innovative app allows the user to create two-dimensional object identification tasks using their own photos and voice.

Though designed for students with CVI, this is a great app for parents or teachers working with any student to discriminate between different images! It can also be used to create a short talking picture story. Upload images from your day at the zoo, for example, record voice narration for each picture and arrange them on the play screen in any order you wish! Then just tap the pictures in sequence to tell your story.

More information about My Talking Picture Board. Buy it on iTunes.

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A CVI Christmas List Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:17:49 +0000

We’ve finally managed to get all of our Christmas shopping done for Little Bear and wanted to share some of the great items we found that we think will be perfect for kids with CVI!

Another parent shared with us this great website, where we found a number of excellent options for Lukas: As he continues to make progress with switch activation, we wanted to buy items that can be switch adapted and also provide great visual stimulation. Here’s what we found:

Small Lava Volcano

This battery-powered table-top volcano can be easily switch adapted with the help of a battery interrupter such as this. This seemed like a particularly good option for Lukas as it combines both motion and one of his favorite colors: red.

Jellyfish Aquarium
Little Bear has always loved the jellyfish tanks at our local aquarium, but it certainly isn’t practical to try to maintain such a tank at home. Luckily, we’ve found this fabulous mock jellyfish tank, with faux jellyfish and color-changing LED lights! This one is also battery-powered and we’re hoping he’ll love it just as much as the real thing.

Light-Up Color-Changing Slinky™
Slinkies are a classic CVI toy and this one seems to be even better than the original! With lights that change colors at the push of a button, this Slinky is great for kids that have a preference for objects that light up.

Light-Up Rattle
Finally, speaking of objects that light up, several people have mentioned this great toy to us: NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle. Little Bear loves to lay on the sofa and hold on to rattles, but now he’ll have one that’s more visually interesting than most!

We’re so excited to watch Lukas try all of these goodies we’ve found! We’d love to hear what other great gift ideas you have for your kids!

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Second Little Bear Sees iPad giveaway Thu, 15 Nov 2012 18:30:41 +0000

It’s been a busy couple of months here at Little Bear Sees, and we have some very exciting things to announce!

Our first ever Little Bear Gives CVI iPad package giveaway was a great success!  We are happy to report we received almost fifty submissions!  We were so touched by the many stories we read as we understand exactly how challenging it can be to raise a child with CVI.  We truly wish we could give iPads to everyone!  We were delighted to offer the full CVI iPad package to a lucky little girl in Illinois named Olivia.  We hope she is doing well and reaping the benefits of owning her very own iPad.

Little Bear Gives is excited to announce that our second CVI iPad package giveaway will take place in December of this year!  The package includes:

* You must have an iTunes account in order to receive the app.

Applications from all qualified applicants from the previous giveaway have been kept on file and applicants can automatically re-qualify through our website by clicking here.  This option is only for those who already submitted an application in the previous cycle, were notified that their application qualified for our giveaway, and wish to have it entered again into this cycle.  At this time we are only considering applications for a child with cortical visual impairment and in which the family has a financial need.  The application can be filled out by anyone on behalf of the child (a parent, therapist, other family member, etc), but only one application can be submitted per child.  Only applications filled out in full will be considered.

If you would like to enter our giveaway for the first time, you can fill out our application online or print and mail it to:

Little Bear Sees
1513 Ralston Ave.
Burlingame, CA 94010

All applications must be received by December 15, 2012 and the winner will be chosen by December 30, 2012.

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