Sari R. Schwartz, OD, FCOVD, FAAO

225 Millburn Avenue, Suite 208 B
Millburn, NJ 07041

Sari R. Schwartz, OD, FCOVD, FAAO

(973) 804-6565

225 Millburn Avenue, Suite 208 B
Millburn, NJ 07041

Special Needs & Abilities

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.

Vision Therapy in Autism

Vision Problems Often Get Overlooked

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.

Possible Signs and Symptoms Include:

  • 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

  • Poor handwriting

  • Clumsy/knocks things over

  • Car/motion sickness

  • 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!

office hours

Monday: 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Tuesday: 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Wednesday: 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Thursday: 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Friday: 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Holiday Hours: Closed Federal Holidays

Please call or leave us a message at (973) 804-6565.

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