Opening Doors - Part 2 - Creating a Mind Map

Working with colour tents

Mind Map

Suzanne Little & Tim LavenderSuzanne Little & Tim LavenderSuzanne Little & Tim Lavender

The colour tent project needs a an observation framework of the possible and variable levels of visual engagement of a child with complex needs in order to evidence what a child 'can do' when using the tent.

This mind map is a guide which can be used to describe how and why a child is using the tent. In addition it supports planning of how it may be possible for the child to move forwards to enable the process of learning.

The map assessment framework uses the perceptual and cognitive levels from 'Vision for Doing' which was designed for children with complex disabilities and visual impairment. It includes the response levels of : visual awareness, visually attending, visually locating,visual recognition and visual understanding and generalisation of visual understanding.

Each child with severe CVI responds in their own unique way when placed in a colour tent depending upon the level of their complexities. Careful observation and assessment of this needs needs to be taken into account when planning an individualised programme. Some examples of observation recording sheets are
available separate to this booklet and it is recommended that short clips of video and photographic evidence can be added to form part of the assessment and evaluation of the child's use of the colour tents.

The colour tent was originally designed to provide an environment to cut down any sensory overload of visual and sound clutter for children with complex needs. Sensory overload has the effect of 'closing the mind' and frequently leads to 'shut down' for these children. The colour tent, however, is a single sense stimulus used to create a quiet, distraction free space to enable the 'opening of the mind' to sensory awareness. The children who can benefit from this visual stimulus may not have previously shown any visual response (other than to light and dark) and they will most probably have limited movement and little sensory connection with the world around them. The colour tent offers an opportunity for these children to cross a threshold from no apparent visual response to the very beginnings of visual awareness.

Once a child is beginning to show signs of visual awareness there is a possibility, depending upon their health and capability, that they might be able to develop their visual perception (in very small steps over an extended period of time).

The mind map and framework of visual processing (beginning with visual awareness) can be used as a guide. But the real guide is the child. We are providing a distraction free space to enable each child to have engagement with the limited use of their vision. We need to observe and take the lead from the child in planning meaningful activities which can be adapted from observing their level of response. This could be simply at the sensory perceptual levels of :

visual awareness, visual attending and visual location.

For some children it might be possible for them to move towards increasingly cognitive perceptual levels: shown on the mind map as visual recognition, visual understanding, and generalisation( extension) of visual understanding. It is hoped to make it possible by simplifying, allowing time, and creating a space without sensory overload to : 'open the doors to the mind'.

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