Entry By: Kim Wiggins, OTR/L, HWT, CP-BC

As a school based occupational therapist, I have recently found that I am getting more referrals for children that have visual issues.  It turns out that these children were receiving vision therapy, but due to the high costs of vision therapy it is no longer an option for the family.  In this case, many people believe that OTs can work on similar skills.

I particularly appreciate this quote from http://www.visionandlearning.org/whatisvt08.html:  “There are crossovers between occupational therapy and vision therapy, particularly in the area of visual perception, eye-hand coordination and visual motor integration, though occupational therapists do not receive near the depth of training in vision nor are they trained in the use of lenses, prism and filters. Vision is a sensory-motor set of systems, so many times if a patient has difficulty with sensory integration, it is co-managed with occupational therapists.”

As we “co-manage” visual deficits, there are a variety of resources that can help these children with visual deficits.

This is one of my favorite websites:  www.visualscreening.com from VERA, Visual Technology Applications Inc.   On this site, you will find a FREE visual screening tool that assesses:  visual acuity, suppression, stereopsis, and fixation disparity.  It will also provide you with a FREE screening report and letters that can be sent to the parent and doctor requesting an eye exam.  This site also provides you with great information that can be given to parents and teachers, containing “One-on-One Activities for Visual Skills Enhancement.”

There are a variety of games that can be played at home, in the classroom, or in OT sessions to address visual perception issues.  Here is a small list of some of my favorites:

PixMix by MindWare can be found on Amazon.com for less than $20.  This game addresses Figure Ground skills.  The skills needed are almost identical to the figure ground section on the Developmental Test of Visual Perception 2nd Edition (DTVP-2).

Pictureka by Parker Brothers can be found on amazon.com or local toy stores for less than $20 to address figure ground skills.

Space Faces by Education Insights can be found on amazon.com for less than $25.  This game addresses visual discrimination, figure ground, and concentration skills.  Animal Soup by Briarpatch is a similar game that can be used for younger children, which can be found for less than $10 in some stores.

During my workshop: Hands-On Strategies and RTI Tools for Classroom Handwriting Skills, Multi-Sensory Techniques for all Children (http://cart.summit-education.com/cart/jsp/course.jsp?courseId=CRANKW.1&categoryId=10001), an entire section of the presentation is dedicated to visual skills and resources that can be used.