The perceptual-motor match relied on two assumptions: (a) motor development precedes visual development, and (b) kinesthetic sensation resulting from motor movement provides feedback, which can be used for monitoring visual-motor activities. Based on these assumptions, especially the former, Kephart advocated that motor training precede visual perceptual training.
Another important aspect of Kephart’s approach was his belief that laterality, the ability to discriminate the left from the right side of the body, is necessary in order for children to discriminate left from right out in space. He viewed children who had difficulties with reversals (e.g., problems discriminating b from d) as needing training in laterality.
Marianne Frostig, who founded the Marianne Frostig Center of Educational Therapy in Los Angeles, California, and was its executive director from 1947 to 1970, developed The Marianne Frostig Developmental Test of Visual Perception (Frostig, Lefever, & Whittlesey, 1964) as well as a commercial training program (Frostig & Horne, 1964). The paper-and-pencil test assessed (a) eye-motor coordination, (b) figure-ground visual perception, (c) form constancy, (d) position in space, and (e) spatial relations. The Frostig-Horne program had specific exercises for each of these areas.
Gerald Getman, an optometrist who had collaborated with the noted developmental psychologist Arnold Gesell at Yale University in the 1940s (e.g., Gesell, Ilg, Bullis, Getman, & Ilg, 1949), began offering summer training programs for practitioners in the 1950s on remediation of visual-motor disabilities in children.11 He and his colleagues published a manual of training activities for children with visual- perceptual and visual-motor problems (Getman, Kane, Halgren, & McKee, 1964). The activities focused on general coordination, balance, eye-hand coordination, eye movements, form perception, and visual memory.
Raymond Barsch12 developed what he called the “Movigenic Curriculum” (Barsch, 1967). One of Barsch’s major theoretical assumptions was that efficient movement in the environment was necessary for survival. Thus, many of the 12 areas of his curriculum focused on movement: muscular strength, dynamic balance, body awareness, spatial awareness, tactual dynamics, kinesthesia, auditory dynamics, visual dynamics, bilaterality, rhythm, flexibility, and motor planning.
Glen Doman, a physical therapist, founded the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1955. He along with Carl Delacato, an educational psychologist, developed a controversial approach to treating children with brain injury.13 Their program of “neurological organization” was based on three assumptions: (a) the development of the individual, ontogeny, recapitulates the development of the species, phylogeny; (b) children with brain injury need to be trained to have cerebral dominance; and (c) training procedures need to change the brain itself, not just symptoms (Delacato, 1959, 1963, 1966).
The Doman-Delacato program enjoyed considerable popularity for a time, but it eventually met with overwhelming criticism from the field (Robbins & Glass, 1969). In 1968, a number of professional organizations14 issued a statement criticizing the Institutes on four major points: (a) the promotional methods placed parents in an awkward position if they decided against using the treatment; (b) the training regimens were very demanding, which might cause parents to neglect other family needs and restrict the child from engaging in age-appropriate normal activities; (c) the claims for success were not backed up by credible research; and (d) the theoretical foundation of the methods were questionable.
Although no official statements came out against the perceptual and perceptual-motor training programs of Kephart, Frostig, Getman, and Barsch, they were the topic of several research studies. Most of these studies found that, although these programs were sometimes effective in improving perceptual and/or perceptual- motor development, they were ineffective in improving academic performance (Cohen, 1969, 1970; Hammill & Larsen, 1974). Probably because of the ubiquitous research-to-practice gap in education, the use of perceptual and perceptual-motor training hung on for a period of time, but by the mid-1980s its use had waned considerably.