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Visually attend to things that light-up
If a student is not demonstrating the ability to visually attend, start with encouraging them to visually attend to lights. There are many commercially available light up toys. Most of these toys also have sound. This may help a student orient toward the toy but it can also be a distraction as some students can't look and listen at the same time. At some point, you will want the student to be able to attend without the assistance of sound. For this reason, find toys that allow the sound to be turned off or select toys and materials that light up without sound. Possible materials that light up include: Christmas lights, light up toys, disco balls, bubble lamps, lava lamps, rope lights, ipods, ipads, computers, television, etc.
Shift their gaze from one near object to another near object
A natural time to work on this skill is when presenting the student with a choice. Present the student with two or three choices and encourage them to look at each item prior to making a choice. For students with multiple disabilities, this is a very important skill to encourage as it will be necessary for using many communication devices or responding to yes/no cards.
Visually examine and explore the environment, looking from one object to another
Shift gaze and focus from a near object to a far object and from a far object to a near object. This skill can be naturally addressed during circle time or group time. The student can be encouraged to shift their gaze between a book or object that is presented and the teacher or a peer.
Objective: The student will visually fix or briefly gaze at lights.
Depending on the student’s abilities, present the following activities for the student.
Objective: The student will regard, visually attend to or reach toward objects (ex. Lights, reflective, colorful, etc.). Student will touch a switch to activate an activity (cause & effect).
Decorate the mobile or stand by wrapping miniature lights along the bars in a color the student prefers. Alternate with other colors depending on student’s ability to tolerate complexity. Consider attaching a fan to a switch and encourage student to push the switch to blow the materials that are suspended, play a unit related song or turn on the mini lights.
Possible Materials to Suspend:
Visually Track Slow Moving Lights, Objects, and Faces
Track slowly moving lights, objects, and faces horizontally to mid line and vertically. Rather than practicing this skill for extended periods of time or outside of the context of an activity, select toys/materials with lights. When presenting the item to the student, encourage the student to visually fix on the item and then slowly track it before giving it to them.
Track horizontally across mid line, and diagonally. This can be worked on in a similar way. Move the item slowly, if the student loses their visual fix, return the item to where the student lost the fix and wiggle it, if necessary, to gain their attention.
Visual Track the Movement of Pets
Track the movement of pets within the immediate environment. Some students may be more motivated to watch the playful movements of pets instead of people. If this is the case, encourage them to develop the skill with pets and then transfer the skill to observing and tracking peers and adults.
Visually Track Movement of Adults and Peers
Describe gross and fine motor movements of adults and peers in an indoor settings. Ask the student to observe and comment on the actions of people in their near, midrange and distance environments.
Visually Track Movement of Toys
Encourage students to visually track the following items.
Objective: The student will attend to and follow the movement of objects.
Obtain a switch activated toy or stuffed animal. Encourage the student to activate the switch to make it move while visually attending to it.