University of Edinburgh

Ideas to assist visual difficulties due to brain damage

The following ideas have all been suggested by parents and carers and patients with visual difficulties due to brain problems. Not all the ideas will be useful to everyone. It may be that only one or two of the ideas will actually help to make a difference. We are always looking for more ideas and suggestions to add to this list. Please email ( me if you wish to add any other suggestions or change some of the ideas that you think are wrong or wish to improve upon.
Kind regards.
Andrew Blaikie

Strategies, which were described as proving helpful with leisure time and travelling

Problem Approaches Variations / developments
Difficulty with team sports and ball games leading to lack of leisure pursuits

Riding: child can feel movement from horse, good view of the world around, horse does movement and child can experience moving safely through their visual environment. Good for posture and balance as well, movement of horse can help with visual fixation

Swimming: enhances body awareness

Ballet and Tae Kwon Do: enhance balance, core stability, visually guidance of movement through space, and stamina

Try riding for the disabled for expert tuition for all levels of ability Look for special needs riding class, with 1:1 lessons or go at a quiet time of day

Swimming can help with visual spatial skills when completing under water obstacle courses


Difficulty in busy environments such as discos and birthday parties

Take child to venue first when empty. Arrive early and introduce to people as they arrive, plan an 'escape' route if too busy

Talk child through stages of activity, use ongoing verbal prompts to reassure.

Limit time spent to suit child.

Prepare for loud noises and flashing lights or ensure child will not be part of the event but can simply observe.

Explain the child's needs to the organisers.

Difficulty attending cinema/ theatre

Check content of film eg; cartoon with bright colours or film with a darker background may be preferred, where others have identified the opposite, to decrease amount of visual stimulation.

Sit at front for full attention and no heads to look over, or choose back for quick exit.

Try ballet or mime show rather than fast-paced pantomimes

Arrive early with lights up so child knows where they are going, or arrange for back seats at door and arrive in darkness as main feature begins to prevent over-excitement.
Difficulty recognising facial expressions Ask child to concentrate on tone of voice, use words to verbalise what you are feeling Inform other parents/ group leaders and ask them to be aware of this and assist your child.
Difficulty walking outside

Hold onto elbow of partner (not hand) or pocket of jacket or belt.

Take a scooter or pram to push.

Try hiking stick or hockey stick to feel the height of the ground ahead

Get the child to make his own 'hiking stick' to use on country walks.

Use verbal prompts or physical cues such as tapping the shoulder, when obstacles occur

Difficulty finding the way

Use digital camera to make route map of familiar sights, or ask child to draw a map with pictures they recognise.

Let child lead the way and use their own verbal or visual cues Use mnemonics or rhymes

Present pictures sequentially to child at each stage or compile into map

Look out for the sequence of shop symbols instead

Difficulty in busy environments

Ask child to pick their own route through the supermarket Sit inside shopping trolley

Provide verbal encouragement and prompts 'what are we looking for?'

Bring comfort toy or involve them with selecting a treat if panic starts

Consider time of day (early or late).

Try small corner shop

Use a motivating shop to encourage participation eg;Games store. Slowly build up exposure time

Child may feel safer with their own small shopping trolley

Travelling in car causes distress Take music player with headphones to create distraction Give child dark tinted glasses to wear