Hand-eye coordination is the visual processing of information to guide hand movements. It is essential for reading and writing and is thus a very important part of the learning process.
Children use their eyes to guide, direct and control their hand movements across the page as they write letters and words. As a child looks at his pencil, the eyes send a message to the brain which then triggers a signal for a reaction to occur (ie, move the pencil). Since the visual system is closely related to hand-eye coordination, a child who struggles with following a moving target and has difficulty moving their eyes from one spot to another, could also be struggling with hand-eye coordination and eventually find reading to be a challenge.
There are other important body systems involved in hand-eye coordination such as proprioception, vestibular and sensory-motor. Because of the involvement of these other systems, a child struggling with hand-eye coordination may also have a hard time with balance, playing sports, show trouble gripping their pencil and sloppy handwriting.
Other signs of poor hand-eye coordination include:
• Turns/tilts head when reading across the page or watching TV.
• Has trouble following a moving object.
• Loses place while reading and skips words.
• Difficulty with fine motor tasks including dressing and playing with small objects.
Hand-eye coordination difficulties can be treated through strengthening fine motor movements of the hands and eyes as well as the neural pathways that connect visual information with hand movements.
If you suspect your child or a child you know is struggling with hand-eye coordination, please contact The Halton Vision Therapy Centre.
Editorial provided by Dr. Patricia Fink