Since so many people have stopped by to check out my post on 12 Vision Therapy Exercises You Can Do at Home, I thought it might be helpful for me to post a handful more for those who need them. As I mentioned in the previous blog post, we learned that our youngest child was in need of vision therapy, but the cost was not affordable. Immediately after learning this, I ran into a friend who happened to have a binder full of vision therapy exercises given to her for her OT work in a poor South African school. None of the pages of exercises have any publication information or copyright information, so I think I’m safe in rephrasing and sharing their content.
We chose 2-3 exercises to do daily for a week, and then we switched to new exercises. After about 10 weeks, Pookie spontaneously started reading. We continued the vision therapy exercises for around six months before we petered out. That was about a year ago. His reading skills continued to improve steadily since then. At this point, Pookie can fluently read material like Winnie the Pooh, and he started telling me about the content of War of the Worlds this morning. He still prefers picture books, but that might simply be his age. If we see a need, we can always do more vision exercises in the future.
We were also told that our son had not integrated a bunch of primitive reflexes. Since I was trying to cover any possible deficit, I also added one primitive reflex integration exercise to our routine for each week. (A YouTube search will give you examples.) I have no idea if these had any impact, but I thought I’d mention that we did some of these exercises, as well.
Please let me know if you have any questions–or success stories! I’d love to help other parents stuck in a similarly stressful situation.
Near and Far
This exercise targets accommodation and focusing (focusing on an object at varying distances). You will need a magazine or sheet of printed paper and a letter poster. (A page with capital letters just under .5 inches tall with a space between each letter was used as the letter poster in the example.)
– Have the child hold a magazine or sheet of printed paper in his hand about 12-15 inches away from his eyes. Hang the letter poster on the wall at his eye height.
– In the beginning have the child take 2 big steps away from the poster (about 2 yards); later you can take three big steps away from the poster (about 3 yards).
– Instruct the child to focus on the first letter of the poster. When the letter is clear and sharp in his vision, tell him to switch his focus to the first letter or word of the magazine/paper in his hand. When the letters are clear and sharp, look up and find the second letter of the poster, etc. Do three lines of the poster per day.
Follow the Ball
– Get a ball of about soccer ball size–a one-color ball works best–and paste a picture to it. The therapist holds the ball with two hands, and the child holds the ball with two hands, as well.
– The child focuses her eyes on the picture. The therapist moves the ball around while the child continues to track the picture with her eyes.
– When the child is comfortable with this exercise, have her use only one finger to stay in contact with the ball. The next step is to follow with a finger that is not quite touching the ball, and finally to follow with eyes only. Spend about a week practicing each step before moving to the next step.
The Not-Quite-Hypnosis Activity
Hold a pencil or small object in your hands. While the child is standing comfortably, hold the object about a foot in front of the child and begin to move it around. Make movements not wider than the shoulder width of the child, and curve the movement slightly to match the contour of the face. Position movements so that the child follows in all parts of the eye: upper, middle, low, outer, and inner.
Work with both eyes together, and then cover first one eye and then the other. Finish with both eyes together again. Do this for only 3-5 minutes total to avoid eye strain.
You may notice the eyes jerking as the object crosses the child’s midline or the complete loss of the target in quadrants of the eye that do not function easily. Begin with what is easiest for the child and gradually work into difficult areas. If midline is a problem, work on one side with the hand on that side, gradually extending over to the other side.
Rabbit Hole #1
– The therapist holds a small tube or hair curler in her hand, the open side facing the child. (We used a marble run tube for this!)
– Child follows with his finger (rabbit) about an inch away–or if he is capable, just with his eyes.
– Child has to touch the inside of the tube (run the rabbit into the hole) when the therapist asks him to do so. Do for only two minutes at a time.
Rabbit Hole #2
– Have the child stand comfortably, with an eye patch over one eye, preferably the non-dominant eye. Hand the child a sharp pencil in the hand corresponding to the open eye (e.g. right eye and right hand).
– The therapist stands an arm length away from the child holding a straw with the open end facing the child.
– Child must quickly and accurately place the sharp point of the pencil in the opening of the straw. If the child finds this difficult, she must use her pointer finger of the other hand to find the hole and then place the pencil in the hole.
– Move the straw to another place/position and repeat the exercise. Do for two minutes at a time. Do also with the other hand and eye.
– Child lies on his back in a dark room with a flashlight in his dominant hand.
– Adult uses a second flashlight to make a light spot on the ceiling.
– Make slow, controlled movements. Child has to follow the adult’s spot of light with his own flashlight.
– Start with linear movements and grade to figure-eight and circular movements. Do the same activity with the flashlight in the child’s non-dominant hand. Do for only 3-5 minutes a day.