Young children with cerebral palsy affecting the whole body, and who have little or no functional speech, rely heavily on their looking skills to communicate and learn. Despite the recognised benefits of recording children's functional abilities, and emerging guidance on how visual function can be assessed in this population, to date the assessment of functional gaze control does not appear to form part of standard clinical practice. This paper will present findings from a study that aims to establish simple procedures for the assessment of functional gaze control in young children with cerebral palsy.
Two assessment procedures are being explored: (i) behavioural observation protocol for use in everyday clinical practice; (ii) objective measurement protocol using using eye-tracking technology. The study is being carried out with children with cerebral palsy affecting the whole body who are developmentally aged between 2-4 years.
The paper will present findings relating to the clinical utility, reliability and validity of the assessment procedures and the range, quality and purposes of children's observed functional gaze contol skills.
Knowledge of children's functional gaze control will inform families' and professionals' expectations and plans for children's everyday participation and intervention.