Just about any small object can be used for object tracking. Younger children will need larger objects such as a hand puppet to follow. Older children can focus on a smaller object such as a finger puppet or the eraser at the end of a pencil. This exercise can be performed almost anywhere, including while riding in the car (only if tracking soft objects). This exercise is for children who have week visual tracking abilities. Usually these children will skip lines when they read or read better by using their finger to keep track of where they are while reading. They may even move their head while they read. This exercise is ideal for Autistic children who are just starting to respond to instruction. They usually have really poor visual tracking abilities.
Step by Step Instructions: Object Tracking.
1. Have the participant face forward. The participant can be sitting, standing on a balance board, standing on two feet or standing on one foot.
2. Hold an object where the participant can see it easily. Not too close and not too far away. The object should be in front of the person's face. The ideal distance is the normal distance that a person would read a book.
3. Instruct the participant to follow the object with their eyes the object as it moves. They are not to move their head. At first move the object from left to right back and forth in a streight line.
4. Move the object from side to side at a speed that is comfortable for the participant. For young children with very poor tracking abilities you may have to stop, move the hand puppet, make interesting noises so that the child will refocus on the object. As the eyes follow the object from side to side, their eyes should move like they would if they were reading something.
5. Continue moving the object for about a minute or two.
6. Mastery at this point is when the eyes can follow an object moving from side to side for two minutes without jumping ahead or lagging behind and the participant not moving their head.
7. After mastery has been reached for side to side, try moving the object in figure eights, or circles or windshield wiper directions. You may wish to move the object in and out so they eyes get used to seeing very close and tracking the object as it moves out.
8. Mastery at this level is that the participant can follow an object at a relatively fast speed (not rapid speed), in any direction for one or two minutes. It is important that the eyes are able to track the object without jumping ahead or lagging behind. Eye movements should be smooth. Movements of the object should be smooth as well. At all times the participant is to keep his/her head still and only move the eyes.
Time: about 2 or 3 minutes.
Recommended Frequency: Two or three times per day, five or six days per week.
Materials Needed: an appropriate object based on age and ability (e.g., hand puppets for young participants and pencil's eraser for older participants, (balance board is optional).
Pretest Assessment: the participant has trouble with tracking. They compensate by using their finger when they read. They may move their head while they read.
Mastery: is when the child can easily follow a small object moved in any direction at a relatively fast (but not rapid) speed. Participants should not move their head.
Additional comments: This is a great exercise to do when there is down time. The child can do it while riding in a car (only tracking soft objects), waiting for something, or scheduled times during the day. They will need an assistant to move the object.
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