Vision therapy activities are used by Behavioural Optometrists around the world to help children develop their visual skills. The aim is not so much to perform certain tasks in an office, but rather to help the child with learning disabilities or visual dysfunction and to aid them as they learn and develop through their schooling.
The big question is, “Do vision therapy activities actually work?”
What are the Vision Therapy Activities?
Concerned parents are always looking for ways to help their children, especially if their child is struggling at school. Yet many so-called experts debate the effectiveness of vision therapy activities, without knowing what these activities actually entail!
As a behavioural optometrist for over 25 years, I have successfully used vision therapy activities to modify both the measurable visual performance of children and also their performance in the classroom. However, I recognize that some activities suggested by optometrists hold little value for improving the school performance of children, even if they change our measurements.
Claiming that vision therapy activities do not work is like claiming piano lessons don’t work! We should not write off the entire profession because somebody did vision therapy activities and did not get a result. I failed my piano lessons, yet clearly they seem to have worked for Billy Joel!
Vision Therapy Activities That Cannot Fail!
There are vision therapy activities that cannot fail, and these are similar to guitar or piano lessons in that they teach children the skills they need to perform well in school. What skills am I talking about?
I use vision therapy activities to train skills like eye movements and tracking, eye coordination and focus, visual memory for spelling, directionality for letter reversals and well known skills like sequencing, coding, etc. These are used every day by people as they learn, and if they are underdeveloped for any reason, they the child is likely to suffer a learning disability.
These skills are developed naturally by school and learning activities over time, but what happens if they do not develop until Grade 8? You have a child who might be very bright verbally but cannot read, write or spell very well. They most often don’t have dyslexia or brain damage, they most often have simply failed to develop the skills they need to do the job properly.
Vision therapy activities which concentrate on the visual skills every person in every culture uses to learn and read will definitely help a child with learning disabilities. In fact, they simply cannot miss!
Vision therapy activities which focus on developing these essential visual skills almost always see improvement in a child’s learning ability. In the same way that piano lessons will improve both a novice player and an expert, getting these skills right can have a major effect on a child’s ability to learn.
The great thing is that developing these skills is fun and enjoyable for the child! I have produced vision therapy activities which kids love doing, find challenging yet not overwhelming and have a fantastic success rate for helping children with learning difficulties. They’re not weird, not boring and take around 6 months to help a child reach their full potential. They don’t teach a child reading, but they provide the skills that child needs to be taught reading quickly and effectively.