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Focus Flexability Exercise

There are many different developmental vision problems that can cause problems with reading and writing. One for children who seem to write well but take forever in coping something from the board is related to focusing from near point to far point. Their eyes do not adjust well and their focus abilities are not very flexible.

This type of problem is not to be confused with individuals who are nearsighted. Many children today will become nearsighted while they are in school. These are children who once could copy things from the board and now are unable to because they cannot see the board. A prescription of glasses or contact lenses will usually correct the problem.

Children with focus flexibility issues can see the board and their paper just fine. However, when they have to go back and forth, they have a difficult time. They will often have their homework assignments incomplete because they did not have enough time to copy down the assignment, yet everyone else in the class was able to copy it down.

The other thing to rule out is an Attention Deficit Disorder. These children are easily distracted and were unable to maintain enough focus to be able to write everything down. These children may benefit from the Focus Flexibility exercise as well (especially if the use of a metronome (actual or digital) is introduced).

This exercise should not be used with children who are nearsighted or farsighted without their glasses.

Two special materials and a metronome will be needed for this exercise. The first item will be a pattern with letters and part of it will need to be cut out. The pattern is glued or tapped to card stock (e.g., file folder). The top center part needs to be cut out so that the participant can hold up the pattern and look through the cut out area to a chart on the wall (second special material). There are two sheets of each but printed in different font sizes. Choose font size best for your child. Older children may need to start off with the larger font until mastery has been achieved. The third piece of equipment is a metronome (actual or digital).

Step by Step Instructions: Focus Flexability Exercise.

1. Have your materials ready. The chart with the window should be built and the other chart placed on a wall. The child should sit about the same distance from the wall chart as he or she does from the board in the classroom. The metronome is set for a (slow speed 50 to 60 beats per minute, lower if necessary).

2. The participant holds the large print chart with the open area at the correct near point distance (the length that is equal from the second knuckle of the middle finger to the elbow). The participant reads and calls out a letter to the beat of the metronome from the hand chart and then looks through the opening and calls out a letter from the large print wall chart. Without missing a beat, the participant calls out a letter from the hand chart and then another from the wall chart, back and forth until all the letters have been called out from each chart.

3. The participant should do the best they can for about five minutes. Then they can quit for the day. This procedure is repeated daily until mastery has been reached. Mastery is defined as being able to call out correctly the letters from both charts at a relatively high speed on the metronome.

4. Once mastery has been achieved on the large print, both charts are exchanged for the charts with the smaller print. Continue working on this exercise for about five minutes a day, every day (about 6 days out of the week), until mastery has been achieved with the smaller print charts.

5. Steps 2 and 3 are repeated, but this time instead of calling out the letters, the child writes them down. The child holds the near point chart in her/his non dominate hand so they can write with their dominate hand. The metronome is set for a low speed and the speed is increased over time until mastery has been reached at a relatively quick beat (e.g., 90 to 100 beats per minute). Only work for about 5 minutes per day.

6. When mastery has been reached of step five, use the charts with the smaller print. Continue to work towards mastery.

7. Put the hand chart on the table or desk the child is writing at and continue having the child write a letter from the desk chart, followed by the wall chart, followed by the deck chart, etc without missing a beat of the metronome. Mastery is achieved when at a relatively high speed, the participant is able to write all the letters from both charts without missing a beat. By this time the participant should be at age level in coping things from the chalk or smart board at school.

Exercise:Focus Flexability Exercise.

Time: about 5 minutes.

Recommended Frequency: once a day, 5 or 6 days a week until step 7 has been mastered.

Materials Needed: Two sets of charts, two of which have been pasted to card stock and cut out, a metronome (actual or digital).

Pretest Assessment: participant with glasses (not nearsighted or farsighted as corrected by the glasses), or participant without glasses and not being nearsighted or farsighted, has difficulty coping things from the board at school.

Mastery: the child can do step 7 at a relatively fast rate on the metronome (e.g., 100 beats per minute).

Additional comments: It is best to have the child checked by a developmental optometrist. If significant problems exist, it is likely that the developmental optometrist will have additional exercises for the participant to do. Make sure the child can see and read the letters on the wall chart. This exercise is useless if the child cannot read the letters on the wall chart.

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