In my practice, we recently treated a young girl who, in addition to her vision-related reading problems, was upset that she could not skip rope like her friends. Jumping rope is a gross motor skill highly influenced by the quality of your visual processing. This type of vision problem had nothing to do with her 20/20 eyesight. Giving her glasses wasn’t going to help her jump rope, but a vision therapy treatment could!
Here is why:
- Your eyes see
- Your brain processes what you see
- Your body reacts to what has been processed visually
The issue this young girl faced were in steps 2 and 3, how her brain was processing and reacting to what she saw.
Motor skills, including gross motor skills like jumping rope, rely heavily on vision and other sensory stimulation. To have good motor skills, a child must have good awareness of her own body and the space around her.
The purpose of vision therapy is to figure out which part(s) of this normal vision development are lacking (it could be primitive reflex integration, laterality, left/right awareness, crossing midline, etc.) and work on re-training those developmental areas. As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, this is training your eyes – just like you would train your muscles in a sport. It takes practice, but over time your vision strengthens and children can catch up quickly to a normal stage of vision development for their age.
To learn more about what actually happens in vision therapy treatments, have a look at my past blog post: What is Vision Training?
For the girl at my practice who came in complaining of not being able to skip rope with her friends, we implemented a vision therapy program. Amongst other things, we worked on visual planning, awareness of our body in space, and on integrating vision and auditory cues like a metronome. We were so excited when she did her first skip a few weeks ago, and she is doing more each week!
By Dr. Nazima Sangha of Family Eyecare Centre