Why does my child skip words when reading?
Some parents may assume that if their children skip words or sentences when reading, the child isn’t trying hard enough. It may seem like the child is distracted, rushing, or jumping over the small words as a sign of impatience. Certainly learning to read presents its challenges, but sometimes these behaviors point to something deeper.
Oculomotor dysfunction occurs in the absence of automatic, controlled, and coordinated eye movement. In other words, poor eye tracking skills. At Mountainview, we use vision therapy to help children and adults improve eye tracking and enjoy the many benefits that come from better coordination between the brain and the eyes!
Oculomotor dysfunction causes the eyes to move irregularly. Rather than smoothly following a line of words, they skip around, making it difficult to read. Healthy eye tracking follows a coordinated path between eye “fixations” on a line, decoding information from the text, while those who have oculomotor dysfunction have trouble fixating their eyes at the right intervals and in the right places. This is why children often skip over small words (i.e. to, is, and) as it is more difficult for the eyes that are not tracking well to find and land on the smaller words.
The good news is that most deficits in the mind’s ability to coordinate between the brain and the eyes can be overcome with vision therapy. Working with our patients according to their needs and interests, we use a variety of methods to promote better eye tracking. This frequently involves different games and visual challenges, using a variety of specialized tools. Guidance from our loving staff also plays a key role.
With practice and consistency, improved eye tracking comes gradually until the task is effortless and automatic for the patient. You may find that your child soon excels at reading! As added benefits of improved eye tracking, you can also expect reduced clumsiness, increased ability in sports, and better performance in many other areas of life.