Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Child Can't Keep Their Eye on the Ball?

Just because a child has difficulty aiming and catching a ball does not necessarily mean that they are not athletic. It might mean that they need to see a developmental optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. Children with poor ocular motility skills do not know how to control their eye muscles. The same kids who can't catch may also move their heads from side to side across a page when reading instead of moving just their eyes. This may result in frequent losses of place or skipping little words and lines of text. Why is this? Because each eye is equipped with six muscles that serve to coordinate to physically point the eye towards a visual target when used efficiently. However, children who don't know how to make automatic voluntary eye movements may have difficulty tracking the flight of the ball (and finding their place in a book.) Children can also have a visual-motor mismatch that makes it hard for them to discern where something is in space. This can impair a child's visual-motor integration skills- not just in sports, but in handwriting and other fine motor skills as well. Every child should receive an annual eye exam and if your child exhibits any of these problems, ask about a comprehensive evaluation of their binocular skills when you talk to the doctor. These problems are routinely addressed with just a few weeks of in-office vision therapy.

By the way, the activities in the Purple Book of my Eye Can Too! Read series of e-books all can be used as an addition to a program of in-office vision therapy to improve a child's eye movement skills. Written for homeschooled families, these activities are easy to do and appropriate for elementary school children.

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