When a child has difficulty learning to read, despite normal to above-average intelligence, teachers and parents often suspect that the child may have a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia.
However, what looks like a learning disability might actually be an overlooked vision problem. Many children are misdiagnosed as dyslexic without thorough vision screening by an optometrist trained in functional and developmental vision care. Standard eye exams will not detect problems that affect reading.
Some of the most commonly recognized signs of dyslexia include transposing letters, writing words in reverse order, and letter reversals. So when a students’ writing includes letter reversals, the adults in their lives may jump to the conclusion that the child is dyslexic. Most people are not aware of other possible diagnoses that can be confused with dyslexia, included vision problems.
Other signs of dyslexia that could also be symptoms of a visual problem include losing place while reading or reading words that are not on the page. The child may also complain of eyestrain and headaches, and he or she may resist reading or attempt to avoid reading altogether. While these signs and behaviors are all-too-often assumed to be dyslexia or other learning disabilities, the student may not actually have trouble learning.
Professionals who are trained to recognize visual problems may suggest an alternative diagnosis — poor visual processing skills. The good news is that visual processing skills can be improved dramatically and quickly with vision therapy.
So while vision therapy does not treat learning disabilities or reading difficulties due to dyslexia, vision therapy does treat vision problems that interfere with reading.
If a child does have true dyslexia, that will need to be addressed by the appropriate professionals. But vision therapy can help develop the visual skills the child may be lacking. In this way, reading interventions provided by other professionals will have the best chance of success.
On the other hand, if teachers or parents suspect a child is struggling with dyslexia, common red flags such as letter reversals might not be symptoms of dyslexia at all. If these symptoms turn out to be due to a vision problem. vision therapy will help significantly.
If your child has been diagnosed with or suspected of having dyslexia, click here to learn more and take our online assessments.