Adapted from "Bal-A-Vis-X : Rhythmic Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises for Brain and Brain-Body IntegrationBal-A-Vis-X" by Bill Hubert
Imagine a room full of eager 7th graders in pairs all performing the same bounce-catch pass exercises to a steady unhurried "thub, dub, dub" rhythm as the balls hit the ﬂoor and then the palms of their hands. The students are processing vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, auditory and tactile experience simultaneously. Their conﬁdence grows as they master Bal-A-Vis-X sequences of ever increasing difﬁculty. With enhanced ability to focus attention, success builds on success. The activities are so engaging that students want to learn them, like to practice during lunch and recess, and enjoy becoming the envy of high achievers whose disabilities don’t entitle them to such a "fun" intervention.
Bal-A-Vis-X is a series of Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises, of varied complexity, most of them deeply rooted in rhythm. Appropriate for grades K -12, the program utilizes beanbags, racquetballs, balance boards, and multiple principles and activities from Educational Kinesiology. This highly motivating program develops full-body coordination and focused attention. A natural complement to OT, speech-language therapy and vision training, Bal-A-Vis-X is school friendly, easy to use with individuals and groups and just plain fun.
Bill Hubert, originator of the exercises, runs a Bal-A-Vis-X lab at Hadley Middle School in Wichita, Kansas. He and his Lab Kids ﬂy all over the country to offer weekend training workshops. "Bal-A-Vis-X is for everyone," says Hubert. For those who are labeled:
- learning disabled - cognitive integration improves.
- behaviorally disordered - behavior "settles."
- ADD/ADHD - impulsivity decreases and attention span increases.
- gifted - physical coordination improves and stress headaches diminish.
- typical - academic performance improves, yet requires less effort.
How does bouncing and catching help? Participants are really working on sensory integration; learning how to look, listen, stay balanced, and move; all at the same time. Bal-A-Vis-X skills then transfer to academics. Visual processing improves as students track balls, judge distances, and coordinate eyes and hands for catching and throwing. The rhythmic patterns of bouncing and catching enhance auditory attention, discrimination, and sequencing, and promote a new responsiveness to the nuances of sound.
What are the exercises like?
The 200 Bal-A-Vis-X exercises vary in complexity from one hand tossing/catching a single beanbag to both hands bounce-juggling four balls in rhythmic sequence. Partner exercises call for as many as six balls to be in simultaneous motion. Some examples:
- Puppet-Arms Bounce - Hold one ball in each hand; bounce right ball; an instant before catching ball with right hand, bounce left ball; continue pattern. Arms move smoothly in coordinated, alternating, up/down fashion; balls bounce in steady rhythmic pattern.
- Ball Simultaneous Bounce - Hold two balls in left hand, one in right hand; bounce all balls simultaneously; catch two outside balls (one in each hand), re-bounce; catch middle ball (with either hand or with alternating hands), re-bounce; continue pattern.
- Ball Rectangle (for partners) - A and B hold one ball in each hand; simultaneously bounce right balls to P’s left hand; while balls bounce, clap left balls on right hand; catch P’s ball with left hand; continue pattern. Bounces must be simultaneous. For additional challenge, not to mention vestibular stimulation, both partners stand on balance boards!
Who can do Bal-A-Vis-X exercises?
Sounds challenging, but these feats are not designed for the athletic and daring. They are for everyone. Mastery comes from establishing basic patterns and rhythms with bags and progressing at the learner’s individual pace. Kindergartners are fully capable of more than half of the exercises. Eight year olds can master all but the most intricate. Even the non- athletic and physically challenged ﬁnd Bal-A-Vis-X well within their abilities.
What are the benefits?
Testimonials from parents, teachers and other professionals are full of words like "exciting" and "miraculous." The average test scores of Hubert’s Lab Kids (bottom 25 % of the class in achievement) went from grade level 4.3 to 6.4 in reading and from 5.5 to 7.2 in math in one year. "My son has beneﬁted physically, emotionally, and academically from Bal-A-Vis-X ," says one appreciative mother. "The precise timing and control he developed with the balls has transferred to reading; now he tracks written text easily and pauses to decode rather than wildly guessing. His longer attention span and ability to concentrate on ball techniques correlates with his new ability to concentrate on academics."
Incorporate Bal-A-Vis-X into your program! Visit www.Bal-A-Vis-X.com or call 316-722-8012. Invite Hubert to give a workshop in your area, order a demonstration video, or Bal-A-Vis-X : Rhythmic Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises for Brain and Brain-Body Integrationread his book, Bal-A-Vis-X. In it he details the development and physiological underpinnings of Bal-A-Vis-X. The book also contains instructions for each exercise and shows the program in action at Hadley Middle School over four years, complete with supporting test data.[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 8, Number 1 - Fall, 2002]