Children with Special Needs & Abilities have the same vision problems as neuro-typical children. These disorders may include nearsightedness or farsightedness, as well as other eye-coordination disorders such as poor eye coordination (vergence dysfunction), eye turns (strabismus), “lazy eye” (amblyopia), eye tracking dysfunction (oculomotor dysfunction), and eye focusing dysfunction (accommodative dysfunction). Eye-coordination disorders such as these cause the child to have a distorted sense of what they are viewing. Depth perception and other visual information-processing problems are also common.
Vision problems of this nature can add to your child’s challenges. A hidden visual dysfunction may be affecting your child’s behavior, interfering with their ability to read and learn, and reducing their ability to perform routine tasks.
Often, a Special Needs & Abilities child is unable to sit still for a routine eye exam, which can result in an inaccurate or incomplete evaluation. The child may have an intermittent (occasional), rather than constant, eye turn that could go undetected. Vision screenings and most eye exams measure what the child can see at a distance of 20 feet, but are not designed to test how they see up close, such as words in a book.
Most people don’t realize that our eyes are actually part of the brain, therefore, it stands to reason that if someone has a neurological disorder that impacts the brain, their vision may be compromised in some way. Being able to see things clearly from a distance of 20 feet (i.e., “20/20”) is just one of many visual skills required to read, learn and function in life.
In fact, 35 areas of the brain are primarily or totally involved with the processing of visual information. At least 305 intra-cortical pathways link the 35 areas; and, 70% of the sensory information that goes to the brain is visual.
While 25% of “normal” children struggle with reading and learning because of undiagnosed vision problems, research is showing that a significantly higher percentage of children with Special Needs & Abilities have vision problems which, when corrected, can make a huge difference in their lives.
Unfortunately, children don’t know how they are supposed to see, so they rarely complain, leaving certain problems undetected. Therefore, it is important to know what signs to watch out for.
Skips/repeats lines when reading
Omits small words when reading
Poor reading comprehension
Homework takes longer than it should
Reduced visual attention
Trouble keeping attention on reading
Difficulty completing assignments on time
Difficulty copying from board
Tilts head/closes one eye when reading
One eye turns in or out
Avoids near work/reading
Unable to listen and look at same time
Holds reading material too close
Clumsy/knocks things over
Unusual neck and body postures
Visual perceptual problems
Uncontrolled eye shaking (Nystagmus)
If your child displays any of these signs or symptoms, an underlying but treatable vision problem may be contributing to their difficulties. Call (973) 804-6565 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schwartz today!
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