Have you ever thought about doing vision therapy at home? If you have a child struggling with learning disabilities then you may have thought about attempting some sort of vision therapy at home, but perhaps you are not sure where to start.
As a behavioural optometrist I can assure you that doing vision therapy at home actually works. I have seen hundreds of patients achieve excellent results after several months of therapy, improving their reading, writing and spelling abilities dramatically. I have also seen parents start programs with all good intentions only to fade out, stop doing the exercises and give up on their vision therapy at home. It cuts both ways at times!
Doing Vision Therapy at Home Requires the Right Psychology
I am no psychologist, but because vision therapy at home is often a long process of 6 to 8 months, clearly there are some psychological factors which can help you complete the program.
Attempting a course of vision therapy at home requires motivation, consistency and a cooperative child, but most parents indicate that their child with learning difficulties is anything but cooperative at homework time! How do you stay motivated and how do you keep your child coming back for more?
I have designed vision therapy at home to meet these psychological stresses head on, because just writing the therapies is not enough. My task a behavioural optometrist is to make the journey enjoyable for both parents and children, because working with kids yields better results than working against them.
Effective Home Vision Therapy Needs These Characteristics
1. Consistency: To be effective, vision therapy at home must be consistent. In our case we ask parent to commit 20 minutes a day every school day, so it ties in nicely with homework. We also recognize that parents lead busy lives, so we automatically send a series of emails to remind them to stay on track. Many parents have told me that, but for the emails, they would have been swamped and failed their child.
2. Achievement: To be effective vision therapy at home has to encourage both the child and the parents that they are getting somewhere and achieving some sort of result. For this reason we must start very simply, with easy tasks that the child finishes and says, “Hey, I got that right, didn’t I?” As the tasks become slowly more difficult the child can look back on their past achievements and be motivated to take on the new tasks. Remember, most kids with learning difficulties are used to failure and rarely feel they ever get things right at school!
3. Fun: How do you encourage a child to do a series of tasks? Make them fun! Most of my vision therapy at home program consists of games of various sorts, and this motivates the children to try harder, especially if there is a score or time to beat from the previous day! By making the tasks fun, parents can also enjoy the fun their child is having and everybody wins. Most therapies you hear about are boring, so they are much harder to get a child to do!
4. Rewards: Rewards are an important part of vision therapy at home, because I find a carrot is better than a stick for children. Along the way we send our children small rewards they can download, and this makes the entire journey much more fun!
5. Results: Above all results are the most important part of vision therapy at home. It is no good having fun and achieving nothing (which is what many children’s games are like). Our games are specifically targeting the skills they need to improve their learning, and when the child improves these skills their reading, writing and spelling results go up accordingly.
Training eye movements makes reading smoother, stopping misreads and the skipping of lines. Improving visualization helps them to absorb spelling words more effectively (that’s why they are called sight words). Training directionality teaches the child special awareness and stops letter reversals. Training focusing helps them to copy off the board without mistakes. All of these are helped by the right exercises id they are done consistently over a period of months.
So parents don’t get bored or discouraged about your child with learning disabilities. Get motivated, get psyched and get your hands on vision therapy at home that is fun, challenging and effective!