Learning Disabilities and Vision Therapy

Child with difficulty reading

Vision Therapy May Make Life Easier for Children With Learning Disabilities

Vision plays an important role in your child's ability to learn, remember, and demonstrate the skills he or she learns in schools. Visual acuity, the ability to see clearly, isn't the only factor in good vision. Issues that affect binocular vision, eye alignment or the complex interaction between the eyes and the brain may cause or contribute to your child's difficulties at school. Fortunately, vision therapy may help improve your son or daughter's academic performance.

How Can Vision Problems Affect Learning?

Could you remember what you read if the page in a book bounced up and down while you were reading? Vision problems can make words seem to float in mid-air or jump when your child attempts to read. These problems can occur even if your child can read every line on the eye chart or wears glasses.

It's hard for children to succeed academically if they have difficulty focusing on words, tracking objects with their eyes, or coordinating the movements of their eye muscles. Vision problems often occur in conjunction with learning disabilities like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and perceptual deficits. In some cases, children are misdiagnosed with learning disabilities when they actually have vision problems.

How Can Vision Therapy Help My Child?

Vision therapy helps the eyes and brain work together more efficiently. Your child's vision therapist uses a variety of high- and low-tech tools and activities that can improve your child's ability to read, identify numbers correctly, and retain information.

Not surprisingly, kids are often unwilling to participate in activities they find boring. Therapy sessions are designed to be fun and are geared toward your child's age level. During sessions, your son or daughter may play a computer game that trains the eyes to work together as a team or dodge a small swinging ball to improve visual tracking. Prism or tinted lenses, filters, or patches may also be part of your child's vision therapy treatment plan.

How Can I Tell If My Child Will Benefit from Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy may be helpful if your child:

  • Becomes tired after reading for a short time
  • Has a short attention span at school
  • Complains of headaches, eyestrain, double or blurred vision when reading
  • Sees numbers or letters backward (although dyslexia can cause the problem, a visual processing disorder may also affect the way your child sees letters or numbers)
  • Mentions that words move on the page
  • Can't write legibly
  • Reads slowly
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination
  • Use peripheral vision primarily instead of central vision
  • Loses his or her place often when reading
  • Has been diagnosed with ambylopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Can't tell the difference between left and right
  • Complains about glare when reading
  • Has difficulty catching or throwing balls
  • Seems clumsy and uncoordinated

Behavioral issues aren't uncommon in kids with vision problems. When reading is uncomfortable, it's hard to sit still or focus on assignments. Correcting vision problems with vision therapy may have a positive effect on your child's behavior and boost his or her self-confidence.

The therapy may also improve behaviors and postures common in autism, such as an awkward gait or lack of eye contact. A research study published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development noted that special lenses used in vision therapy can improve posture and correct head tilts and may even improve your child's ability to catch balls.

A vision therapist can determine if the problems your son or daughter experiences at school are related to eye teaming difficulties, a visual processing or perception issue, eye movement or tracking problems, weak eye muscles, difficulty focusing on near objects, or other vision issues.

Does your child struggle with math, reading, or behavioral issues? He or she may have a vision problem that can be improved with vision therapy. Contact our office to schedule a comprehensive vision examination.

Sources:

UAB News: New Study Shows Link Between ADHD and Vision Impairment in Children, 03/25/16

https://www.uab.edu/news/innovation/item/7038-new-study-shows-link-between-adhd-and-vision-impairment-in-children

All About Vision: Vision Therapy for Children

http://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/vision_therapy.htm

NCBI: Journal of Optometry: Efficacy of Vision Therapy with Learning Disability and Associated Vision Anomalies, Efficacy of vision therapy in children with learning disability and associated binocular vision anomalies

6/7/17

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5777927/

NCBI: Child Psychiatry and Human Development: Postural Orientation Modifications in Autism in Response to Ambient Lenses, Winter 1996

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8936794

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