Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Does Your Child Stand With One Leg or Arm Wrapped Around the Other?

Many of the children whom I see for in-office vision therapy have more than one learning-related visual issue that makes it difficult for them to succeed in school. Sometimes a child presents with a severe laterality and directionality delay. Laterality is the ability to tell left and right accurately on yourself. Directionality is the ability to project the knowledge about left and right away from yourself into space. Both are visual spatial skills, i.e. processing skills or visual perceptual skills. We discover the extent of a child's delays using a combination of tests: the Piaget Test of Left/Right Awareness, either the Jordan or the Gardner test of letter reversals, and a dyslexia screener. Children who cannot cross the mid-line or who make frequent reversals when reading or writing letters and numbers often score poorly on these tests, all of which have age/grade level expected normed scores. Then we use a series of activities in therapy to address any laterality and directionality delays. (The Yellow Book in the Eye Can Too! Read series provides parents and teachers with similar activities and information about how to understand a child's behavior when doing them.) I have recently noticed that many of the children with the most severely delayed laterality and directionality skills stand or sit with one leg wrapped around the other. They often twist their bodies when standing, and seem to be holding themselves together with the right hand grabbing their left side and the left hand grabbing their right side. I think that this postural habit exacerbates the problem by making it difficult for the child to know which body parts belong to the right side and which to the left. I have begun to coach parents to discourage their children from using these positions as another way to address the child's visual spatial problems which they sometimes express as being "confusing." I'd love to know whether others see the same correlations. Feel free to add your comments. Thanks.

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