Monthly Archives: August 2014

What Appears to be a Learning Disability Could Be Cured With Vision Therapy

Learning disabilities and vision disorders or visual deficiencies share common signs, symptoms and behaviors. While a learning disability cannot be cured or fixed, common vision problems in children that are often mistaken for learning disabilities, can be successfully treated and cured with vision therapy.

Having 20/20 eyesight does not rule out vision problems that interfere with learning. Watch this video to learn more about the relationship between vision and learning.

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that indicates a person’s brain is “wired” differently. Children with learning disabilities are no less intelligent than their classmates, but they may have difficulty learning through conventional teaching methods. A child with a learning disability may struggle with reading, writing, math, organizing information, memory, or with reasoning skills.

Examples of learning disabilities include auditory processing disorders (difficulty understanding spoken language), dysgraphia (difficulty with writing), dyslexia (difficulty understanding written language), dyscalculia (difficulty with math problems and concepts), and nonverbal disabilities (difficulty with spatial and facial cues).

Each type of learning disability presents unique challenges; and if the disability is identified early enough, children can be taught using different approaches and taught specific skills to cope and even thrive.

Learning-related vision problems may present almost identically to some learning disorders that can be significantly improved or even eliminated permanently with vision therapy.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may reverse, transpose, invert, or mix up letters or words when reading and writing.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may appear restless, fidgety, or distracted in a classroom setting or while doing homework.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may have poor coordination or fine motor skills.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may struggle with reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, and memory.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may perform below grade level on standardized tests or perform more poorly than expected on exams.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may be exceptionally bright or gifted but also struggle in school.

If you or child’s teacher suspect a learning disability, you’ll want to rule out a treatable vision problem. Your child might not need to learn differently. Instead, your child may need to undergo a treatment program to train and reinforce vision skills, with lasting results.

The only way to rule out a vision problem is with a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

For functional exam and vision therapy in Olney, Maryland or Silver Spring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

behavior problems in children

Can Vision Therapy Improve Your Child’s Behavior Problems?

Does your child have behavior problems, and you just can’t seem to figure out why? What many parents and educators don’t know is that sometimes behavior problems in children are caused by undetected vision problems that can be successfully treated with vision therapy.

Even if a child has 20/20 eyesight, vision deficiencies can interfere significantly with learning. And when a child struggles to learn and complete tasks that are easy for classmates, they grow frustrated, distracted, and may act out or display coping behaviors that appear to be common childhood behavior problems.

To learn more how vision can affect learning and behavior, download our free guide here and watch our pre-recorded webinar here.

You may get frequent calls from your child’s teacher, and perhaps you’ve even met with counselors about their behavior. But despite disciplinary actions or positive reinforcement, the disruptive behavior continues, seemingly undeterred.

Issues that contribute to a child’s behavioral problems can be as varied as hereditary factors, malnutrition, allergies, physical illnesses, or instability at home. Behavior problems in children have many possible root causes–environmental concerns, abuse, cries for help, emotional problems, developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD),  obsessive compulsive disorder, and much more.

Parents and educators rarely suspect a vision deficiency  because there’s simply little awareness about how vision problems affect learning and behavior in children.

Signs or symptoms often attributed to behavior problems that may be caused by a vision disorder include:

  • Antsiness or fidgeting
  • Getting up from seat at inappropriate times
  • Talking during instruction or distracting classmates
  • Inability to stay on task or complete work
  • Defiantly refusing to do assignments or to take a turn reading in front of the class
  • Disruptive behavior or “acting out”
  • Deflecting blame or making excuses
  • Social awkwardness, missing social cues about politeness and personal space, and trouble getting along with peers

Children with vision deficiencies often don’t know they have a problem, or they are not able to articulate it. They think everyone else sees and processes information the way they do, and they don’t know why things are difficult for them. Their eyes get tired, they get headaches, and they are constantly straining to do even the simplest tasks, such as read a line of text or copy from the board.

Vision exams by your family eye doctor typically only test for vision clarity. As long as a child can clearly see and identify the letters on an eye chart, he can pass the exam with 20/20 vision or get prescribed corrective lenses. The exam usually doesn’t test for eye movement, eye coordination, or visual processing problems.

The only way to determine if your child’s behavior problems are caused by a vision problem is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

The good news is, learning-related vision problems that affect behavior can be treated successfully with vision therapy. Many parents notice significant lasting behavioral improvement within a few short months of intensive vision therapy.

If you’re located in Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD and you suspect that your child may have a learning-related vision problem that affects behavior, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

vision therapy exercises to do at home

3 Vision Therapy Exercises to Improve Common Reading Problems


Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center
offers Vision Therapy in Olney, MD near Silver Spring.

Common reading problems in children can be traced to a number of possible causes, including learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder. However, one cause that is often overlooked is vision. An undetected functional vision problem could be the reason a child is struggling to read.

Click here for instant access to a webinar on how undetected vision deficiencies could be the reason behind common reading problems in children.

The good news is, unlike other diagnoses, learning-related vision problems can be treated and improved significantly in a short period of time with Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy is a treatment program that includes procedures and exercises designed to enhance a child’s ability to control eye movement and visual processing.

At the Visual Learning Center, which offers vision therapy in Olney, MD, a developmental optometrist and team of trained vision therapists provide individualized intensive treatment programs designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies in children.

Visual processing skills and eye movement can be developed and reinforced by practicing a prescribed set of exercises and activities that a child will do under the guidance of a trained vision therapist.

Patients at the Visual Learning Center are encouraged to supplement in-office treatment with additional practice at home, which we’ve found to enhance our vision therapy success stories.

To be clear, vision therapy will not help your child with reading difficulties if your child does not have a vision problem The only way to determine if your child’s common reading problem is caused by a vision deficiency is to undergo a comprehensive vision screening by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care. If your child is diagnosed with a vision problem, your doctor will prescribe an individualized intensive treatment program.   

The following activities are vision therapy exercises are intended to supplement in-office care to improve common reading problems and learning-related vision deficiencies:

Discrimination Orientation Arrows (DOA) is a vision therapy activity that develops visual discrimination, which is a skill essential in determining correct letter orientation and preventing letter reversals among students with learning-related vision problems.

This activity seeks to mimic the process of selecting a direction for each letter while writing.  “Should d point right or left? Should b point left or right? Which direction should I write q? Which direction should I write p?”

Watch the video  below to see a demonstration of the Discrimination Orientation Arrows activity in progress. Download your own activity board here.


With practice, the outcome children enjoy from the discrimination arrows activity is that they begin to catch mistakes faster and more easily, reduce the frequency of errors, and dramatically boost their self-esteem.

The Stickman Activity aims to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills.

Doing this activity can improve laterality and directionality, which are required for reading, writing and recognizing direction and orientation of words and letters. This activity can also improve figure-ground perception, which is necessary to distinguish an image or text relative to its context or background. Additionally, the activity can enhance visual concentration, which is a skill that allows the eyes to fixate attention for a long enough period of time to read and comprehend.

Watch the video below for a demonstration. Download your Stickman Activity packet here.


Letter Tracking Activities are designed to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills, such as discrimination.

Visual discrimination is a perceptual process that involves the ability to correctly identify basic features of a visual stimulus, such as text. Discrimination enables a child to see and identify shape, size, orientation, and color.

Poor visual discrimination skills cause a child to skip letters or words when reading and have problems with laterality and directionality.

Watch the video below for a demonstration. Download a Letter Tracking Activity packet here.


The letter tracking activity is useful to reduce writing and common reading problems caused by poor visual discrimination.

For vision therapy in Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment.