Laser Saccades

Introduction

This activity works well as an adjunct to Laser Tracing (while you have the lasers out, might as well throw this in). Like Light Tracing, the laser spot provides a strong visual stimulus for fusion and feedback. It’s easy to see if you’re seeing double, even in bright lighting, and it’s also easy to see if you’re off target. This activity requires two laser pointers, readily available for $20 or less at electronics stores like Radio Shack / The Source, and often at big box stores like Wal Mart.

This activity encourages visual motor integration, visual tracking and search, as well fused vision (both eyes on one target) at near distances. There is a strong saccadic component here as the child is required to play ‘tag’ with the therapist, either on a wall or on a table.

Method/Procedure

The play begins with the therapist and child sitting side by side. A midline is established directly in front of the players. This can be a mark on a wall, a light switch, a door frame, or whatever you like. This activity can be played at a table as well, in which case the midline would be some mark on a paper, etc. It is important to delimit how far out from center you will go, and it is recommended you keep this to around 30 degrees or less, meaning 15 degrees to the left and right of the midline. This is ‘in bounds’.

The therapists moves his spot within the allowed space, the child ‘touches’ the therapists spot with his own. Immediately the therapist will move the spot to the other side of the midline, and the child again touches the spot as quickly and accurately as possible. The play continues like this for a given period of time.

The child uses the dominant hand, alternating to the non-dominant hand 10% of the time.

  • The child should be sitting erect (see Visual Hygiene for tips) with the laser pointer held in a standard pencil grip. Modify if this is too difficult.
  • If you are working at a table, a slant board is ideal, or you can make a mock up by laying a kitchen cutting board against a large book, slanting towards the child.
  • Vary the span of the jumps you make as the therapist. Keep things changing, sometimes with very narrow jumps close to the midline, and other times with wider jumps nearer to the ‘out of bounds’ markers you have established.
  • Ensure the child’s head is steady and only the eyes are moving. You can use a small headlamp (like for cyclists/mountaineering) with a narrow beam to help with this. Have the child target a point on the desk or wall with the headlamp and keep it there while he does the activity.

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  • Go slow at first, then ramp up the speed.
  • Consider using a Metronome to promote predictability. A slow pace like 50-60 bpm can be a good start, then speed things up by 10 bpm up to 120 bpm.
  • You can modify the above by having the child target certain fixed objects in sequence, like letters on a wall (as opposed to moving your own point as the target). Again, use the metronome to keep the beat.
  • The ultimate load on this activity is to have the child do the targeting through a mirror, like a small stand mirror that can be placed on the table if targeting at a table. You can also do this in a room where there is a wall mirror and trace larger objects through the reflection such as windows, furniture, doors.
  • Be sure to patch according to your doctor’s directions.
  • Have the child work the non-dominant hand 10-25% of the time.

 

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