Does my child need a Vision Therapist?
Vision and eyesight are not the same thing. Read on to see how it can affect brain-based disabilities.
Eyesight is the ability to see something clearly (Known as Visual Acuity 20/20). Eyesight is tested with Eye Charts by pediatricians, schools and at regular optometrist visits.
Vision, on the other hand, is a skill developed as the child grows. Vision is the brain’s ability to use the images from both eyes to coordinate the images and control eye movements. Because vision is learned after birth and sometimes does not develop properly, it can be stimulated and exercised to correct it. There are several dysfunctions of vision that cause learning disabilities, especially in writing, reading, & math. They are not caught on a normal eyesight checkup, but can be cured. We will go over some of them here.
Directionality: Some children instinctively look at a word or picture from right-to-left instead of commonly from left-to-right. This can make reading and math difficult. Have the child glance at the duck/rabbit picture to the left. Ask them what kind of animal they see. If they see a duck first, their directionality is correct. If they see a rabbit first, they are looking at things from right-to-left. In the English language our books read left to right, so it will need to be cured through exercises from a Vision Therapist in your area. Below is an example of how their brain is taking in the image of each word.
Form Perception: There are some children who have a hard time visually processing the difference between similar shapes, such as a square and rectangle or a circle and oval. For these children, it is extremely difficult to differentiate the wiggly lines of letters and numbers, thus causing disabilities.
If your child is old enough to draw, hand them the printed page from the PDF below and a blank white paper. Ask them to make their white page look like the printed page. If they have a difficult time doing this, they draw double lines, or their drawing is distorted from the shape they are copying, they most likely have a problem with Form Perception. See a Vision Therapist for the exercises to correct the problem.
- Print Form Perception Test in PDF – Easy (Ages 4-7)
- Print Form Perception Test in PDF – Advanced (Ages 8+)
If your child had difficulty or is having difficulty learning their shapes, it is a good sign they may have a form perception problem or near-nearsightedness.
Binocular Coordination: When children are born, they have to learn to use both eyes together, knows as “eye teaming”. Some children do not develop this skill fully. They will pass eye tests at check ups, but have difficulty reading, writing and doing math. It often goes unnoticed because it is slight and they have nothing better to compare it to. It causes moodiness, agitation and Learning Disabilities.
Have your child cover their right eye and read a few lines of a book. Then cover their left eye only and read a few lines. Next, have them uncover both eyes and continue reading a few lines from the same book. If their reading ability is noticeably lower with both eyes open, there is a good chance they are struggling with a Binocular coordination problem that has gone undetected.
This is a simple test. If you suspect this problem in your child, there are better tests that can be done. You should see a professional Vision Therapist for full testing, especially if your child has a reading disability.
Also see our Visual Processing Functions Page For Tacking, Convergence and Divergence.
Many children with the above vision disabilities go years without anyone knowing. They are misdiagnosed with other Learning Disabilities, ADHD and ADD. Find a Vision Therapist in your area here.