Saturday, February 12, 2011

Activities for Amblyopia & Patching - the unplugged edition

There's no doubt about it, kids love technology. Whether it is playing a video game, playing with apps on the iPad/iPod,  taking over mom or dad's smart phone, surfing the internet, or watching the TV. My kids love technology as much as the rest.  I've sung the praises high and low about how using the Nintendo DS has been a great activity for my daughter during her patching time.   However, how much is too much? It is always hard as a parent on where to draw the line and when to unplug.

During times when my daughter is wearing her patch - I try to make good use of it and fill the time with constructive activities that will work on her vision. It can be hard to find a balance of passive patching and 'active patching'.  Especially now that she is only patching for 4-5 hours a day I want to make the best use of the time as possible.  And with a conscious effort to 'unplug' - I thought I would share Belle's latest favorite activity - crafts.

  • Mosaic Art Activity Kit   We really like these mosaic craft kits which remind me a bit of color or paint by number. Instead of coloring or painting your child sticks precut peel & stick foam squares onto a numbered template.  We found the kit at our Toys R Us and used holiday gift cards.   I like it because it isn't very messy and all the cards and pieces store in a gallon zipperseal bag when she isn't using it.  The kit we purchased has both small and large numbered cards - and the small ones can easily take her up to an hour!  There is no lack of kids craft kits out there to try.  We'd previously been doing a lot of beading crafts but the cleanup from the beads is a bit more tedious than the mosaics, so we are switching to the mosaics for a while.
  • Playing with Lego sets - With a 10 year old brother, there is no lack of lego sets here.  My daughter previously seemed disinterested in them. That was until my son's occupational therapist and I discussed assorted activities that we could do to improve his "pinch and grasp" skills. So, we've had a push on Legos here at our house and between holidays and birthday's many new sets entered our home - mostly the Toy Story lego sets.  Belle has wanted to play along and I've seen how she too can benefit from this classic toy.  Assembling the small bricks really requires not just fine motor skill but also quite a bit of hand/eye coordination and focus as well.  Legos have quickly climbed the ranks for approved patching activities. 
  • Homework -  Though it does take her longer, I do have my daughter do her (kindergarten) homework while she is patching.  Whether it is a practice sheets or completing pages in her workbook - she is doing it patched.  I've watched over the past few months how her handwriting and coloring has improved.  
  • Since her teacher says that she is a "slow cutter" , we have also been working on activities that require cutting with kiddie scissors as well as coloring, painting, pasting.  The craft bin that hadn't seen as much use since preschool days has become rejuvenated.  
  •  Last but not least,  reading.  Belle is not yet reading independently - but she is working on it.  We are big readers here and love books. So whether it is reading (together) one of her own books or a borrowed book from the library, we read.   I'm watching her confidence build a bit in the reading department.  I've tried to find a balance between her favorite story books and the books geared to younger/new readers with simple words and larger font size (the scholastic Level 1 and the Bob Books are good choices).  Even though I do not need to, I follow along with the words with my finger and have her doing the same. Because she has a hard time focusing on the individual words - following along with her finger really helps.  We are seeing a lot less of the "I can't" and more attempted effort at sounding out words.  Slowly but surely I know we will have an independent reader on our hands.
What is your favorite unplugged activity to do with your patching child?


  1. Zoe likes working on puzzles or coloring or painting. I keep meaning to get some beads to do beading (though that might be better with both eyes to encourage depth perception). What we really like doing is cooking and baking. Zoe does most of the measuring and stirring. I don't know that it's the best activity, but we both love it and it definitely distracts from the patch.