Developmental Disabilities

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Danny an Observation in Autistic Behavior and Cortical Vision Impairment

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Danny and teacher 3 yrs


            Danny continues to treat people as objects and is unaware of what is going on around him.  His surroundings are interesting to him, only in the sense of trying to get away from Danny’s lack of body awareness and his inability to hold onto a visual image of a toy or a person for any length of time indicate extreme lack of visual acuity and middle distance vision and perceptual gaps that need investigation by a vision specialist.  The observer concludes that in addition to typical traits of autistic behavior, more is involved, such as cortical vision impairment.


            Danny lacks any idea of boundaries and space.  He seems unaware of social and motor cues that help organize his body; his facial features are uneven in proportion; his smile is irregular, and his eyelids do not lift or fall in synchronization. Danny wears glasses, appears to be unaware of others around him, as the observer and father work on sensory-motor exercises and tasks.


            Danny grimaces, indicating that he is physically uncomfortable.  Danny walks with an uneven gait, and shows an uneven muscle and skin tone; that is, his lower body coordination is floppy at times and stiff at other times; his eye-hand control and eye-foot movements are weak and disorganized.


            Large muscle activities, eye-hand coordination and increased mental alertness and body awareness are the areas of activities that need immediate attention. Danny will benefit from daily warm-up stretching and bending movements that are practiced at the time of arrival each day.


            Other large muscle activities to include on a daily basis are: dancing, running, changing directions, turning 360 degrees in a circle and playing “follow the leader” to the beat of music.  Danny needs to hear human voices, so chanting and singing are essential sounds, especially if teachers speak in tones of voice and pitch that frequently change from high to low and soft to loud.


            Teachers must hold his face and with their hands to direct his attention to the activity and to warn him about what is the next one. He responds by turning away, be ready to redirect him every time he turns away by cupping his face. 


Danny has very limited tactile sensation or interest in the effect of human touch, but needs physical touching and massage. 


            Classroom activities should concentrate on floor play; Danny’s job is to move around the room until he has encircled the room.  Start each day by taking his two hands and leading him around the room, talking about activities in each area of the room, in order to “awaken” his senses and his awareness of his surroundings. 


            After each tour of the room, teachers and parents work with Danny using the “two at a time” system.  Offer two toys to Danny in each area on the floor. Teachers need to take two similar toys and sit on the floor, helping him to start an action, at which time, teachers imitate whathe does.  Imitate even the slightest gesture.  Say, “I did what you did. Do it again.”  

Ask Dr. Susan