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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Testimonial

  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.