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Tracking skills, or the ability to control the fine eye movements required to follow a line of print, are especially important in reading. Children with tracking problems will often lose their place, skip or transpose words, and have difficulty comprehending because of their difficulty moving their eyes accurately.

When we read, our eyes don’t move smoothly across the line. Instead, our eyes make a series of jumps and pauses as we read.

The small jumps between words or groups of words are called saccades. The brief pause we make while looking at the words is called a fixation.

A common presenting complaint to our clinic is a child who is having “tracking problems”.  This phrase is used to describe a variety of issues from those related specifically to reading, but sometimes writing and copying.  Symptoms related to tracking problems are described in different ways:

  • losing place while reading
  • omitting small words
  • accidentally re-reading a line just read
  • skipping words or even whole lines
  • poor reading fluency
  • use of a finger, bookmark or similar to keep place while reading

Persistent issues with tracking might lead to frustration, avoidance and for some, the development of a strong dislike for reading. Please see us at Outlook Eye Centre for a comphrehensive behavioural optometry assessment if your are concerned about your child’s tracking skills.

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