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.
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.
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