Activities to Develop Visual Spatial Knowledge: General Movement

WachsDr. Wachs’s VT Manual, which we introduced in the prior post subdivides its headings as follows:  General Movement, Discriminative Movement, Ocular Development Control, Visual Acuity, Visual Thinking, Hand Thinking, Graphic Thinking, Auditory Thinking, Repetitive Expressive Communication, Logical Thinking, Representational Thought, Speed & Accuracy, and Math.  My purpose here is to be descriptive of what you’ll find in the manual when you obtain the book, rather than to reproduce the procedures.  It’ll be well worth the $65 investment.  We’ll begin with an overview of General Movement.

First up is Reflexive Control, which revolves heavily around the concept of therapy to help integrate primitive reflexes.  They are sometimes referred to as retained reflexes.  Harry notes that OT, PT, or a strengthening program may be advisable for children with low muscle tone on physiological inadequacy.  This is the part of the book that would have been aided significantly by videos, so I tossed in a few I found by surfing.  The first procedure for unlocking in-utero reflexes is Starfish. Harry has a picture of a child sitting in the “criss-cross” position on the floor, and here is a nice video illustration of the procedure with an adult.

The second procedure is Lizard.  Harry’s protocol is for the left leg to be crossed over the right leg at the ankle, and although this video is not identical to what’s described in the Manual, it gives you a nice feel for the procedure.

The third procedure is Bug, with the child on his back and head facing the ceiling, and has variations – Bug 1, 2, and 3.  The fourth procedure is the four point stance, similar to the Bug but with the child kneeling on all fours instead of lying on his back.

Harry then proceeds to two procedures for integrating post-utero reflexes.  The first is Roly Poly, in which the child locks his hand around his wrists with his arms under his legs, creating a rocking chair stance with knees bent.  He then rolls over and around, simulating a barrel, and should be able to roll sideways around the room.  Here’s a little guy who mastered Roly Poly all on his own!

The second procedure is Sloth.  Child is on his back with one arm pointing to the ceiling, closed hand, but thumb extended in the direction of the head.  The other arm is bent, palm down, grasping the shoulder of the arm in the air.  He fixates the extended thumb while slowly bringing his raised hand down toward his ear on the same side.

Dr. Lori Mowbray has a home primitive reflex training program that is available through OEPF.  This is as close as you’ll come to seeing companion videos to Harry’s primitive reflex therapy procedures.

A nice complement to what Harry writes about primitive reflexes is an essay authored by Sam Berne in the OVD in 2006 that you can read here, and an article in the JBO by Goddard from 1995 that you can read here.  You can also view a nice PowerPoint of a lecture given by Keith Holland at the 2006 ICBO meeting – its the 8th PDF in the list here.  Lastly, here is  a nice chart linking retained reflexes with symptoms and associated school problems.

3 thoughts on “Activities to Develop Visual Spatial Knowledge: General Movement

  1. Dr. Press, Thank you for posting this information. When my son started VT and I awaited my turn (for strabismus), I was surprised that many of the exercises dealt with reflexes and gross motor skills. I had learned about many of these reflexes in nursing school but never suspected I needed work in this area! I always thought clumsiness was the direct result of poor depth perception. I didn’t understand the greater picture of visual deficits.

    My son has regressed a bit with his visual skills after a year since graduating VT. He was re-evaluated last week, and we are waiting to hear what course of action will be recommended. His posture has been off, and I have been working with him at home on some of the motor skills exercises. He knows things are not as good as they were a year ago and is motivated to do the work to get back on track.

    I read this article today before he woke. After he was up and ready for school, I worked with him on several of the exercises. He was so relaxed and cheerful on his way to the bus. He was so happy that “Dr. Torgerson’s friend” posted this article. We talked about ways to relax at school when he feels his neck getting sore and his posture is tense. Rather than watch the clock and wish he were home, he can do a starfish stretch and reset himself. He loves school and sports and doesn’t want to miss a thing. He is so grateful that there are people who understand and who can help him get a handle on this. He doesn’t want to sit out!

    To any parents who question the necessity of these exercises, please trust the therapists and have your child do them. I would also recommend finding a sport or activity that works for your child rather than avoid them due to a lack of coordination. If our kids have trouble with math, reading, or any other subject, we get help for them. We need to do the same when they are not “naturals” with motor skills.

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