I went to high school with a girl who had this condition, we were friends, I remember that when we were talking her eyes would uncontrollably move back and forth, but she was very smart, had great grades and a wonderful personality. She had several great girlfriends and boys were interested in her. The only thing that she ever had trouble with was when we took drivers ed. She was restricted in her driving and even later, her license would only allow her to drive at a designated speed, but other than that she did not have any trouble or was never limited in anyway. She never needed special treatment and performed as well or better than the rest of us.
Many times programs for the blind and visually challenged will offer special accommodations, learning tools (such as Intel Readers) and other assistance to help a child with congenital nystagmus. The public school program director for special education should be able to provide information.
I have recently moved from UK to PA, USA. My child has CN and they attended mainstream state school in the UK ( like a blue ribbon public school here in USA). They had the benefit of a qualified teacher of visually impaired ,join the class daily for additional 1 to 1 teaching. This all started at age 3. Our child also had full support from what I believe to be a world class visual impairment team in South Wales, UK. All these services were at no cost to us, it was all paid by the taxes I pay. I recommend seeing Nystagmus Network UK and also USA website. Uk website has excellent low price leaflets, I bought these and they are invaluable. My friend is also a teacher and taught someone with CN and used many of be tips below. The student was the top student of their year, went onto studying law and is now one of the highest paid solicitors in the UK. If you have the support of great teachers, parents, community, the will and ability to achieve you can achieve great things.
Ensure staff are aware of the situation, if the student is young and uses the school cafeteria then it may be useful for them to have a basic understanding. Nurse needs to know too possibly others.
1. Recommend you discuss with child's parents/ healthcare professionals if there are any other health issues etc to be taken into consideration.
Make use of as many senses as possible and as many different learning styles as possible.As the child's hearing is especially important they may be sensitive to noise, particularly when young.
Understand the child's null point/s ie the position and posture they are in to optimise their sight. They may need to be in front row , perhaps to the right or left. My child may look at you sideways on, they are not being sly, that's just their optimal position for sight but they can have several null points.
Geography and orientation of new surroundings, changed levels and raising awareness of furniture moves etc... Yes, with CN you can bump into objects and trip over little things like trailling cables and a coping strategy is to memorize where objects are....but please get trailing cables out if the way,rugs or covers are not great. Conversely if you have CN and run around the playground you might miss the fact that someone is on the play swings, you might run right in front of a play swing and wallop, .... Bruised heads and off to see the nurse.....
2. Lighting and glare, take care to optimize these to the benefit of the student, when outdoors sunglasses might be needed.Remember a child with CN might be wearing prescription glasses but that does not correct the nystagmus.
3. Printed matter. Font, font size, paper color and numbers of characters and words on a line ( try columns, like in Newspapers) make a difference. Experiment early on to get the best set up for the student. keep font simple. Student should have their own book and should not share , because of null point etc. a large body of text can be off putting, using a card to just show one line at a time makes the view less busy ( remember "where's Wally " pictures and how hard it is to find him....)
4. Do all you can to ensure confidence and morale of the student is kept up.Anything that marks you as " different" could run the risk of being a victim of bullies. Do not do anything that will hurt the students confidence eg don't ask the student to read a long passage out (unless you know they can) give the student opportunities to excel.
5. Judgement of distance, speed, uneven ground and tracking objects can be difficult and tiring , so walking up steps, crossing the road and watching for traffic and catching a ball can be tricky so help may be needed.
6. Sport and recreation, encourage trying lots if different types. In addition anything that helps with relaxation can help eg yoga/ massage.
7. Using your eyes can be tiring. Reading long texts can be tiring, break the day down so the eyes aren't used for long periods. When the eyes get tired or if the student is ill, starting to feel ill or stressed the eye wobble gets more pronounced and sight suffers. Closing the eyes can help, relaxation techniques can help. Students should be given more time in timed tests/ exams. Going into a test us stressful so the eyes wobble, and then the ordeal of trying to read. It may take me ten mins to read a passage, someone with CN might take much longer 15,20, 30 mins ,.... maybe less, maybe more....particularly towards the end of a day.
For tests be exams then I think you need to consider options eg can the questions be read to the student, extra time should be given , can the answers be typed etc. again I think a dialogue should be set up between school, teacher, exam folks, student parents etc to find the most appropriate way foreword.
8. Encourage learning keyboard/ IT skills from an early age.encourage use of fun mini magnifiers because there will be times in life when the student will need to read a street name , prescription etc.
9. Encouraging good buddies. A student may find it useful if they have a considerate friend who can give some guidance from time to time.
10. Encourage and support the parents with frequent supportive dialogue, parents please do the same for your child's teachers.
I am being very general and this may not be the case for all....Would also like to add that facial expression (part of body language may be tricky to read) when you are with someone with CN , likewise someone with CN may find it difficult to "read" subtle facial expression of others. A teacher may think a CN student is giving a "sly" look or just a blank seemingly disinterested facial expression when in fact the student is simply concentrating. Likewise a CN student may find it difficult to read facial expressions of others, because those expressions might be done in a fraction of a second and therefore to quickly to be seen. This can cause isolation and strategies should be employed to avoid this.