Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Look with your eyes, not with your hands.
When my children were little and we went into a shop or a home belonging to someone with many visually attractive items within reach I had a saying that I repeated ad infinitem: "Look with your EYES, not with your hands." It was a familiar reminder of the etiquette required in such places. For some children, however, this instruction would be tantamount to blindfolding them because they do not value their eyes as efficient gatherers of information. Some children have poorly developed visual attention, responding more to auditory or tactile clues. These are the people who can never "find" anything that they are looking for even when it is right in front of them - not because of being distracted - they really don't see what they are trying to find. Other children have not developed adequate control of their eye movements and may even be mis-labeled with an attention hyperactivity disorder. These children cannot hold a visual fixation for long enough for the image to register - they may have deficits of pursuits (the ability to track a moving object) or of saccadic eye movements (the ability to make short accurate visual shifts in focus such as a reader makes when transitioning from one word, line, or paragraph to the next). If yourchild does not seem to LOOK where he or she is going, do not make the excuse that they are an auditory or kinesthetic learner (of course they may prefer to obtain new information through these channels but that does not mean they should not be assisted to develop the visual skills that will allow them more efficiency.) If it seems that your child does not gain new information by means of their eyes, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a doctor who evaluates children's developmental visual skills. Then begin to incorporate visual challenges into every day situations - for example, draw a picture or write instructions for a task that the child must do with a reward for accomplishing it. And, consider purchasing a good resource like one of the Eye Can Too! Read e-books. Everyone can learn to use their eyes more efficiently no matter how they learn best.