Introduction: In this exercise, the client will hold a wire loop (described below) and use it as a sight to guide hand movements. The loop is used to visually ‘circle’ target letters laid out across the surface of a table. Prepare the letters and loop for this activity, and place it all in a dedicated envelope for later use. Pull this out for a quick 1-2 minute exercise during your training sessions.
- • Wire Loop- a length of wire, perhaps 8 inches, with a 1-inch diameter loop at the end. The easiest way to make this is to go to your local hardware store and buy a foot of 24 gauge wire or heavier. Consider buying a 3 or 4 feet of wire and making a few loops of different diameters, larger and/or smaller, depending on how difficult the child finds things. Remember, always start easy then load it up.
- • Letter Targets – Use paper or light cardboard. Cut the sheet into 3/4″ to 1″ squares. Half of a 8.5 x 11 inch sheet should give you more than enough squares to make the entire English alphabet. Consider making two sets of letters: Uppercase and lowercase. Start with either one or the other, then mix them. Be sure the letters/numbers are written clearly and precisely, using a pen or marker of a fat enough stroke to make the writing obvious and easy to see. Use small snack/sandwich bags to keep things organized. Number sequences are also effective in combining mathematics training along with oculomotor skills.
- • Blind fold/patch.
- • Lay the letters out, right side up, in a few rows in front of the child. You could, for example, do four rows of 5 and one row of 6, nicely spaced and correctly oriented. In other words, easy to see and understand.
- • Client holds wire loop in dominant hand and brings near the eye of the same side, encircling the eye and lightly touching the skin. In other words, he is looking through the loop and holding it lightly against the skin surround the eye, or holding it just in front of the eye barely touching the eyelashes. Both eyes are open.
- • Therapist calls out a letter. Client, with head immobile, locates the desired letter/number then immediately starts drawing the loop outwards towards the target. The target must remain centred in the loop through the entire movement. The movement ends when the loop is placed over the desired target. The movement should be made as quickly as possible without sacrificing accuracy.
- • Immediately proceed to the next letter or number in your chosen sequence. You might for example use this sequence:
- • Say “Say ‘Cat’.”
- • Child says “Cat.”
- • You say “I will spell ‘cat’: C-A-T. Spell ‘cat’ with me: C-A-T. Now show me those letters and say them while you find them: C… A… T…”
- • Client proceeds with each letter or number called and uses the loop as a sight to encircle and ‘capture’ the targets on the table, drawing the wire loop from the eye straight outwards, away from the face, towards the target on the table.
- • Do a few words or sequences in this fashion, then switch hands for a few. Always place the loop near the eye of the same side as the hand used. Try to keep equal left-right repetitions. You do not have to do many of these for each side, perhaps one or two for each combination below. You might consider simply using one sequence, repeating it with the non-dominant hand, then moving on.
- • Repeat 3, 4, 5 above with the left eye masked.
- • Repeat 3, 4, 5 with the right eye masked.
- • Repeat 3, 4, 5 with both eyes open
- • This activity is self-loading. That is, the goal is to acquire the targets more and more quickly and with increasing accuracy. The reverse can also be true in that working this activity very slowly can add an extra level of difficulty.
- • Be sure to repeat the exercise in roughly equal frequency between dominant and non-dominant hands.
You can also mix the letters up, starting with a few scattered and rotated letters, then gradually adding more.