Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can't cross the midline - Rake my yard, please!

Children who cannot cross the midline have lots of problems in school. They don't easily form letters like X, V, W, M, N, or Z because these letters require them to draw a line that moves across a diagonal. These kids have trouble finishing worksheets where they have to connect a selection on the left side of the page by drawing a line to its match on the right side even when they can demonstrate mastery of the information orally or in other kinds of written assessments. Regular playground activities like skipping are also very difficult and the most delayed children may not be able to alternate their feet when climbing up or down a flight of stairs. These same children probably do not know their left from their right and may become confused about which side of a word or line of text to read first. By providing lots of gross motor experiences that require a child to cross their physical midline during a program of in-office vision therapy, we can often help them to form the neural pathways that allow them to understand where they are in space. Then we can assist them to apply that knowledge to directions outside of their body. So, it's fall. I spent much of the afternoon raking leaves. It is a perfect chore to give to a child who needs to learn to cross the midline. You hold the rake with both hands and sweep it across your body again and again. Of course, the satisfaction of creating a huge pile of crispy leaves to jump in and hide beneath provides most of the motivation needed. Even very small children can rake if you buy them rakes with shorter handles.

If you suspect that your child may have delays in the development of laterality & directionality, make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with a developmental optometrist who incorporated vision therapy into the practice. The doctor may decide to administer a series of normed tests to learn whether your child's visual perceptual skills are developing on schedule.

If you would like to have a set of original activities that assist children to grow in the development of the visual spatial skills of laterality & directionality, consider buying the Yellow Book of the Eye Can Too! Read e-book series by Lesley Barker

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