Tuesday, January 26, 2010
When a person does not have good control of their eye movements they often do not trust, value, or rely on the visual system as a means of gathering information. The other day I was working with a nine year old boy in a vision therapy session. I had made a "map" on the floor using a length of clothesline placed so that every few feet the rope made a 90 degree turn. The boy, who is 100% accurate about identifying left and right on himself, was told to walk along the rope, stop before making a turn and say which way the rope led. If he correctly identified "left" or "right" I allowed him to progress. He was inconsistent and as I watched, I noticed that he never looked at the rope. At least guessing gave him a 50% chance! I began to say, "look DOWN at the rope." When he did, his accuracy rate improved. After more than 30 turns (we repeated the activity a few times), I still needed to cue him to "look DOWN at the rope" .... This boy cannot follow a slowly moving target like a Wolf Want nor can he successfully make short hops between two stationary targets without his eyes shifting suddenly away from where he is trying to make them point. Yet! Even though each week he has better control but now I realize that in addition to building the muscle awareness and automatic control of his eye movements, for this boy, I have to help him gain an appreciation and the habit of letting his eyes participate in gathering the information needed to navigate through life and the world.