About the Vision Therapy Kit
The Vision Therapy Kit is primarily for schools wanting to offer vision therapy for students 6 to 7 years of age. The areas targeted include visual motor skills, visual spatial skills, visual analysis skills, eye tracking skills and visual-auditory integration skills. Sessions take about 20 minutes and the activities practiced for 5 or 6 days but this may be reduced or extended depending on the student’s progress. The exception to this is the “Letter Tracking” activity which runs for up to 7 weeks. The programme requires working with an adult such as a parent or teacher aide for at least 4 months but taking into account school holidays, days missed and any extra input required it may take the entire school year to complete. It can be done at home or school or a combination of both. For a child with mild learning difficulties then specific aspects of the programme may be selected such as eye tracking training or visual motor training but for more significant learning problems the entire programme is recommended. In cases where developmental delays are severe students may need additional help from a vision therapist or an occupational therapist. Some students may also benefit from further intervention such as the iCept Training programme on the iPad which requires a higher level of visual attention.

Although vision therapy that is regularly reviewed by an optometrist in-office is considered to be the premium level of care, there are numerous reasons for offering therapy in a school setting including lack of available services, cost factors, inadequate home support or a difficult relationship between the parent and child.

How does Vision Therapy Help?
Most of our learning comes through vision which is often the first step in the learning pathway. The importance of visual skills as a predictor of learning success in young children has been shown by Facoetii et al1. Training follows a developmental sequence starting at a gross level of skills such as helping the child to become more visually competent at moving through space and then shifts to tasks that are more specific to the classroom such as keeping ones place when viewing similar symbols, visualizing direction, accurately tracking text, analyzing visually coded patterns or relating vision to sounds. These are considered low level skills compared to reading tuition which targets at a much higher level. Obviously a child learning to read still needs reading tuition but practicing low level skills can help to remove some of the barriers to reading – which is one of the most complicated skills that we have to learn. If a child is not yet developmentally ready, focusing solely on reading tuition may produce gains initially, however the child may develop inefficient attention strategies called “splinter skills” which could slow down or even limit their progress in the longer term.

Before Starting Vision Therapy
VT3Before starting vision therapy it is critical to consider the child’s general health – especially if there are signs and symptoms – and to rule out any near vision problems such as a reduced capacity to focus or converge the eyes at near. The latter may easily be overlooked as a normal school screening typically only checks distance vision but not near vision which is essential for learning. A check of a child’s near vision by an optometrist is therefore recommended before commencing therapy. To help with this Vision For Learning offer a screening test called the  3 Point Check Test of near vision which can be done in less than a minute. Having a diagnosis of delayed visual development can also be very helpful. This is a service typically offered by a behavioural optometrist although most students in this age group who are failing to respond to conventional therapies will benefit from a vision training programme to accelerate the development of their visual skills.

We advise teachers to attend the Raising Achievement workshop before purchasing the kit.

Vision Therapy Activity #5
An example of an activity for training visual analysis skills is shown below.


Another example of an activity for visual auditory integration can found under Resources.

About the Vision Therapy Kit
The programme has 12 activities with video demos. Handouts of the activities can also be printed from a USB drive. The materials required, including metronome beats, come with the kit. Activities can be copied for repeated use in the learning support classroom. To view the kit see Purchase – Vision Therapy Kit.

Reference
1. Franceschini S, Gori S, Ruffino M, Pedrolli K, Facoetii A. A causal link between visual spatial attention and reading acquisition. Curr Biol 2012, 22(9):814-9.