Activities to Develop Visual Spatial Knowledge: General Movement – Part 3


Marsden Ball,jpgMarsden Ball.  Looks simple.  Gets complicated.  You can obtain a nice one through OEPF.  As Dr. Wachs notes in the manual of his Visual/Spatial book (pp. 144-6) activities with the Marsden Ball suspended from the ceiling can help an individual to improve spatial awareness and assimilate primitive reflexes.  As you can see, a bright, neuortypical 17 month-old with a talented optometric daddy can do some Marsden Ball activities, so don’t let age be a determining factor in the utility of the procedure.

Here is a nice video of Marsden Ball Activities by our colleague Dr. Dominick Maino and his students at ICO, utilized for Ocular Development Control, as Dr Wachs refers to these procedures when used in this manner (pp. 268-9).

shark,jpgI love Harry’s description here of the procedure (p. 144) as having the child stand inside an imaginary circle above which the Marsden Ball is suspended that represents a small island on which the child is standing.  I would imagine that if the child has difficulty visualizing this boundary, one could use masking tape on the floor and create an actual circle.  Tell him that the Marsden Ball will approach him like a hungry shark on alligator swimming around the island, and he has to stay on the island but avoid being touched by the shark/alligator.  You’d figure that some kids would eat this idea up, and others might be frightened by the suggestion, so pick your choice of imagery judiciously!

yoked prismsThe patient can move his body and feet inside the circle to remain on the island, but should keep his eyes on the ball the entire time.  Rather than merely ducking the ball, the patient should manipulate his body around all the axes (vertical/X, horizontal/Y, transverse/Z).  You can raise or lower the ball to alter the challenge, as well as control the arc and speed of the ball’s rotation.  As the child dodge’s the ball successfully, reduce the area of the circle in which he has to stand.  When he can do this successfully, have him keep his feet stationary and move only his body.  Once accomplished, do it with yoked prisms, probing accuracy with bases up/down/left/right.

 Balance Board BoyRepeat the procedures while the child is on a balance board – a tinier island, if you will.  Harry suggests the following observations:

* Does the child forget to watch the ball?

* Does he use his hands to fend off the ball?

* Does he lose balance completely?

* Does his body “freeze”?

* Does he resort to erratic hand movement?

If the child finds any of the general primitive and postural reflex activities difficult, use the Floortime procedures in the first section of the book to include play or games in the task until the child is enticed to perform the activities as described.  Make the procedures magical and fun!

Our colleague, Dr. Dominick Maino along with students at the Illinois College of Optometry, recorded a nice video on Marsden Ball in conjunction with a bat, which Dr. Wachs classifies under Ocular Development Control (pp. 268-9).

Another colleague, Dr. Julie Steinhauer, gives a brief demonstration of how this might apply to helping athletes sharpen their skills for batting.

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