'n Ondersoek na die effek van okkulomotoriese oefeninge in kombinasie met 'n visuelepersepsieprogram op die visuele persepsie by sewejarige leerders met visueel-perseptuele probleme
According to the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (2002), the objective of occupational therapy is to help people to participate in activities of daily life which are purposeful and meaningful to them and in which they are expected to participate. According to educators, learners are increasingly experiencing problems with performing academic tasks, and learning barriers, especially with regard to visual perception, are on the increase. Various external factors, such as educational policy pertaining to inclusive education and a younger age for school admission, as well as internal factors, such as learning readiness, may contribute to the occurence of learning barriers that can restrict the academic progress of learners. Learners are increasingly being referred to occupational therapists. Occupational therapists also provide guidance to learner supporters. Occupational therapists refer learners with visual perception problems with possible eye tracking problems for vision therapy, after which occupational therapy is resumed. Meanwhile, learners still have to function in the school environment, which means that incorrect capturing of information processing can take place. According to literature, the promotion of eye movements is regarded as part of occupational therapy services in the USA. In South Africa the proposed model by Fishman-Hellerstein and Fishman (1999: 148) of cooperation between optometrists and occupational therapists is followed. In this approach eye movements are regarded as underlying building blocks of visual perception and the effect of eye movements on the academic performance of learners is clearly described (Green, 2001). There is a shortcoming in the literature where eye movements are promoted as integral to a visual perception programme. Occupational therapy needs to investigate effective methods of intervention that are time and cost effective in order to address the growing problem, especially in South Africa. A clinical experimental field trial with a convenience sample was used to investigate the effect of occulomotor exercises in combination with a visual perception programme on the visual perception of seven-year-old learners with visual perception problems. The study population was seven-year-old learners with visual perception learning barriers from neighbouring schools with foundation phase education. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Sifting procedures included questionnaires to parents and educators, “Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration” 4th edition of Beery (1997) for visio-motor integration, and a screening test by an optometrist. A visual perception programme was presented to the control groups and the experimental groups over ten sessions. An eye exercise of 15 minutes was included with the experimental groups. The Developmental Test of Visual Perception, 2nd edition, by Hammill, Pearson and Voress (1993) was used as measuring instrument in the pre-test and post-test to determine effectiveness, which was statistically indicated by using the repeated measures ANOVA. The results indicated no significant difference between the visual perception programme with eye exercises and the one without. Two tests of the sub-ability of visual perception showed a tendency towards improvement. The educators indicated that the learners benefited functionally from the programme and that it made a difference in academic performance. Behaviour and emotional events may have influenced the results of the study because of external factors. It is recommended that the study be repeated with a larger sample and a longer programme presented over six months to a year. Occupational therapists can include eye exercises integral to activity participation by adapting activities and through the optimal use of space for activities so that the learner would have to adapt to it visually.